Montgomery County has 15 cases, as Democrats block coronavirus relief bill, Governor Abbott pushing forward

Montgomery County has 15 cases, as Democrats block coronavirus relief bill, Governor Abbott pushing forward

Image: President Donald Trump speaks as Vice President Mike Pence, left, and FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor look on, during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Sunday, March 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky).

Conroe, Austin, and Washington, D.C. – Montgomery County now has fifteen (15) positive test result cases of the China Flu, also known as coronavirus, Kung Flu, or COVID-19. Three additional positive results occurred over the weekend. The pace of testing remains slow due to the lack of availability of test kits for the purpose of diagnosing whether individuals have the Wuhan, China-caused pandemic.

Renowned conservatives Cindy Muth Gaskill and Kelley Inman produced the following chart analyzing positive coronavirus test results:

Source: Cindy Muth Gaskill, Kelley Inman.

Democrats play politics with Congressional coronavirus relief bill

Top-level negotiations between Congress and the White House teetered Sunday over a now nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, the nation shut down and the first U.S. senator tested positive for the disease.

As President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads, the Senate voted against advancing the rescue package. But negotiations continued on Capitol Hill.

“I think you’ll get there. To me it’s not very complicated: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies,” Trump said. “We’re enduring a great national trial and we will prove that we can meet the moment. We’re at war.”

At the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid bill was declared insufficient by Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and healthcare providers. The setback sent Republicans back to the negotiating table.

With a population on edge and shell-shocked financial markets poised for the new work week, doubts emerged about the fate of an agreement that would provide some relief against health and economic crises that are likely to stretch for several months.

“Americans don’t need to see us haggling endlessly,” warned Senate Majority Leader McConnell, R-Ky., his voice rising on the Senate floor. He sought passage of the package by Monday.

But Democrats say the largely GOP-led effort does not go far enough to provide health care and unemployment aid for Americans, and fails to put restraints on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the draft package “significantly cut back our hospitals, our cities, our states, our medical workers and so many others needed in this crisis.”

While the congressional leaders worked to send help, alarms were being sounded from coast to coast about the wave of coronavirus cases about to crash onto the nation’s health system.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had dire, urgent news from the pandemic’s U.S. epicenter: “April and May are going to be a lot worse,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

De Blasio all but begged Washington to help procure ventilators and other medical supplies. He accused the president of “not lifting a finger” to help.

Trump urged Congress to get a deal done and, during the Sunday briefing, responded to criticism that his administration was sluggish to act. He cited his cooperation with the three states hardest hit — New York, Washington and California — and invoked a measure to give governors flexibility in calling up the national guard under their control, while the federal government covers the bill.

But even as Trump stressed federal-local partnerships, some governors, including Republican Greg Abbott of Texas, expressed unhappiness with Washington’s response. The president himself took a swipe hours earlier at Gov. J. B. Pritzker, D-Ill., saying that he and “a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News” should not be “blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings.”

This came as the first senator, Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, announced he tested positive for the coronavirus. Paul, who is a doctor and close ally of the president, said in a tweet he was not showing symptoms and was in quarantine.

Paul was seen at a GOP senators’ lunch on Friday and swimming in the Senate gym pool on Sunday morning. His office said he left the Senate immediately after learning his diagnosis.

A growing list of lawmakers have cycled in and out of isolation after exposure, and two members of the House have said they tested positive. Five senators were in self-quarantine Sunday evening.

In recent days, Trump invoked the Defense Protection Act, a rarely used, decades-old authority that can be used to compel the private sector to manufacture needed medical supplies like masks and ventilators. Officials said Sunday that it would be used voluntarily and businesses would not be compelled to act.

“We are a country not based on nationalizing our business,” said Trump, who has repeatedly railed against socialism overseas and among Democrats. “Call a person over in Venezuela. Ask them, how did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well.”

The president tweeted Sunday that automakers General Motors and Tesla were given “the go ahead” to make ventilators and other products. But no automaker is anywhere close to making medical gear such as ventilators and remain months away, if not longer. Nor do the car companies need the president’s permission to move forward.

Two days after he lashed out at a reporter who asked about his message to frightened Americans, Trump said, “For those worried and afraid, please know as long as I am your president, you can feel confident that you have a leader who will always fight for you.”

But minutes later, when he learned that rival Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, was one of those in isolation, he declared “Romney’s in isolation? Gee, that’s too bad.”

Trump said he was not being sarcastic. He also, at one moment, incongruously complained about the lawsuits and scrutiny has faced in his short political career, saying “I think it’s very hard for rich people to run for office.”

The urgency to act is mounting, as jobless claims skyrocket, businesses shutter and the financial markets are set to re-open Monday eager for signs that Washington can soften the blow of the healthcare crisis and what experts say is a looming recession. Stock futures declined sharply as Trump spoke Sunday evening.

Officials late Sunday put the price tag of the ballooning rescue package at nearly $2 trillion. That does not include additional measures being taken by the Federal Reserve to shore up the economy.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was leading a third day of nonstop talks on Capitol Hill, said the plan was meant to prop up the nation’s weakened economy for the next 10 to 12 weeks.

Mnuchin said workers and businesses will get assistance to help cover payrolls for the next 10 weeks; unemployment insurance; and a one-time “bridge payment” of about $3,000 for a family of four. Hospitals, he said, will get approximately $110 billion for the expected influx of sick patients.

The treasury secretary said a significant part of the package will involve working with the Federal Reserve for up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the economy with “broad-based lending programs.”

But Democrats have pushed for add-ons, including food security aid, small business loans and other measures for workers — saying the three months of unemployment insurance offered under the draft plan was not enough.

They warned the draft plan’s $500 billion for corporations does not put enough restraints on business, saying the ban on corporate stock buy-backs is weak and the limits on executive pay are only for two years.

The president, when pressed by a reporter, dodged a question as to whether his own business would seek federal funds. He also said, unlike his predecessors at times of national crisis, he would likely not call any past presidents for advice, saying “I don’t think I’m going to learn much.”

The details are coming from drafts of both bills circulating among lobbyists but not yet released to the public. They were obtained by The Associated Press.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Governor Abbott issues executive orders to make more hospital beds available

Governor Greg Abbott yesterday signed an Executive Order to expand hospital bed capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 virus. These actions will reinforce Texas’ health care capabilities and provide additional space for hospitals to provide care to COVID-19 patients. Under this order, the Governor directed all licensed health care professionals and facilities to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition or to preserve the life of a patient who without immediate performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death, as determined by the patient’s physician. This does not apply to any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the personal protective equipment needed to cope with the COVID-19 disaster.

The Governor also suspended certain regulations as requested by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to allow for increased occupancy of hospital rooms — meaning hospitals will be able to treat more than one patient in a patient room, thus increasing their ability to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients.

Additionally, the Governor announced the creation of a temporary Supply Chain Strike Force — immediately naming Keith Miears, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Procurement at Dell Technologies, to serve as Supply Chain Director for the state of Texas. Miears will be supported by former State Representative John Zerwas, MD, who will assist with hospital relations and preparedness, Clint Harp, Vice President of Transmission Strategic Services for the Lower Colorado River Authority, who will assist with asset research and procurement, and Elaine Mendoza, Chair of the A&M Board of Regents, who will assist with statewide child care infrastructure for critical workers.

The Supply Chain Strike Force will be tasked with guiding collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure health care facilities have the supplies and resources they need to respond to COVID-19. In addition to working with the federal government and businesses to secure necessary personal protective equipment, the team will work to ensure day-to-day resources (including food) are available for Texas’ medical personnel, first responders and those who have contracted COVID-19.




“We have seen how this virus has progressed in other states and nations, and it is vital that Texas stays ahead of the curve as the situation develops here,” said Governor Abbott. “Patient care capacity is essential during this time, which is why the state of Texas is taking action to increase hospital bed capacity, provide additional space for medical personnel to care for patients, and ensure that healthcare facilities have the supplies needed to respond to COVID-19. Along with this Executive Order, the Supply Chain Strike Force will play a crucial role in addressing these needs by helping to secure and expedite the distribution of resources across the state. These are unprecedented times, and Texas will continue to take robust action to protect our communities and support those serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.”

The Governor’s Executive Order takes effect immediately, and remains in effect and in full force until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020, unless it is modified, amended, rescinded, or superseded by the Governor.

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