Today, United States House of Representatives voted to pass legislative action to provide Washington D.C. with statehood and all the constitutional provisions of the other 50 states. This Bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by Pres. Biden, will effectively make Washington D.C. the 51st state in the Union.
The Washington D.C. Admissions Act was passed unanimously by 218 Democrats, against 208 Republicans, with 4 Republicans withholding their vote. The Bill is strongly supported by Pres. Biden. Minority leader Kevin McCarthy published on Twitter, "The Democrats’ D.C. statehood scheme is about two things: consolidating power and enacting radical policies."
The Bill will most likely end in the Senate, split 50/50 along party lines, and Republicans can filibuster requiring 60 votes to pass. However, Democrats have already mobilized to remove the filibuster power.
Washington D.C. has a population of over 700,000 people, which surpasses the populations in Vermont and Wyoming, despite being a fraction of the size. Many residents of D.C. have transitioned from other States, and have voted and sought representation in those States in years past. However, Democrats are adamant that this legislation is imperative for civil rights.
Leading medical official Dr. Deborah Birx presented data on COVID-19's mortality rate in Europe. Dr. Birx stated that in Europe, 99% of all deaths were persons age 50 or older, who also had severe underlying health conditions. She added that of those who died in Italy, the majority had three or more preexisting health conditions.
Dr. Birx said, “I think this is reassuring for all of us, but it doesn’t change the need to continue to protect the elderly, and in order to protect the elderly we all need to continue to do the President’s directives and guidance for the next week of the 15-day challenge."
Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the federal task force, announced that over 313,000 tests have been completed. Healthcare facilities are receiving more tests than they can complete per day, but the implementation of Roche’s new systems have greatly improved the rate of testing. Healthcare workers are advised to prioritize testing for hospitalized patients.
"Self-swabbing" tests are confirmed to be in development and will be available by next week. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet authorized any self-administered or at-home testing kits. Warning Against Unauthorized Fraudulent COVID-19 Test Kits
Hydroxychloroquine, an immunosuppressive drug, has been proposed as treatment for COVID-19 patients. In a small study from France conducted with 20 COVID-19 patients, hydroxychloroquine proved to be effective, particularly in combination with an anti-biotic drug called azithromycin. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.16.20037135v1
Healthcare providers are expressing concerns about implementing the drug until larger studies have been completed.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn stated, “We need to use science and data to judge the safety and efficacy of any treatment. Right now we do not have a full set of science and data to make recommendations definitively about what’s safe and effective for the American people but we are certainly committed to doing that.”
The World Health Organization now officially declares a pandemic for COVID-19. This is the first time any coronavirus has been considered as a pandemic. The World Health Organization classifies a pandemic as “the worldwide spread of a new disease,” so with 140+ countries now reporting infections, it does fit the definition. https://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/frequently_asked_questions/pandemic/en/
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed confidence the coronavirus pandemic can be contained and resolved. He said they are working to support any countries and governments struggling to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
It’s reasonable to be concerned as COVID-19 is potentially deadly, yet of over 120,000 confirmed cases the death rate remains below 3% and well over half are fully recovered. To gain perspective, on average 3,200 deaths occur every day from car accidents worldwide, and it’s taken the coronavirus over three months to cause 4,389 deaths. Influenza has already killed over 12,000 people in the United States since October last year. More than 600,000 people in the United States and nearly 10 million people worldwide were lost to cancer last year. It's important we understand how this coronavirus “pandemic” relates to other potentially deadly challenges we face.
What can you do?
Stay calm, wash your hands, stay hydrated, maintain healthy habits, and if you begin to show any symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, aches, vomiting, then isolate yourself and contact your trusted medical official. The elderly and people with critical preexisting health conditions are most vulnerable to severe symptoms. Children are less vulnerable to COVID-19, but can still transmit the virus.
Today at the White House, President Trump has signed an urgent $8.3 billion spending package to respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
“I asked for 2.5, I got 8.3, and I’ll take it,” said Pres. Trump as he signed the bill.
The money is for research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine, for tests, medical equipment, supplies, and other humanitarian aid for affected countries. It also provides financial aid to affected small businesses.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar says the distribution and production of COVID-19 tests is completely on schedule. Hundreds of thousands of tests are already available, and 4 million more tests will be made available next week.
Currently, at least 233 COVID-19 cases with 14 deaths are confirmed in the United States, however the actual number of cases is probably significantly higher, as adequate testing measures have not yet been implemented. Around the world, there are now over 100,000 cases, 3,400 deaths, and at least 55,000 recoveries confirmed.
Pres. Trump now travels to Nashville, Tennessee to observe the damage where a sudden storm of tornadoes devastated communities and killed 24 people late Monday night.