Politics & Government

An association representing thousands of hospitals across the country is pushing back after President Trump claimed that hospital administrators are "really thrilled to be where they are."

The American Hospital Association said hospital officials are worried about shortages of critical medical supplies, including medication for patients and personal protective equipment, or PPE, for health care workers.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says the Democratic National Convention may need take place virtually as a result of the deepening coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday the party delayed the presidential nominating convention from mid-July to mid-August over pandemic fears, but Biden on Sunday raised the specter of Democrats choosing their White House nominee online for the first time.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The children's voices on the phone line were hesitant, but they were looking for answers.

"Why did we switch to remote learning?"

"When are we going to go back to school?"

"They're opening up an emergency hospital here, will that bring more coronavirus cases to my area?"

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET

In a grim assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump on Saturday predicted that the coming week would be "one of the toughest weeks" of the outbreak. At the same time, the president expressed frustration with the toll that social distancing measures are taking on the economy, saying, "We cannot let this continue."

With data projecting cases in several regions hitting their peaks within seven days, the president told reporters that the United States could see its deadliest week since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Easter is next Sunday, April 12. But the country isn't close to being "opened up" by then, as President Trump said he'd like to see during a March 24 news conference, a suggestion that was panned by experts.

Mention government financing public works projects and sooner or later someone's going to bring up the Works Progress Administration.

That conjures scenes from the 1930s, the breadlines and soup kitchens and the wan-faced men selling apples on the street. And also the image of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the man elected president in 1932 promising a "New Deal" to end the Great Depression.

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, criticized governors Thursday, saying they don't have a handle on their own supplies of masks and ventilators needed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

In a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, Kushner urged governors and some senators to be more resourceful in their own states instead of looking first to the federal government for help.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

President Trump is firing Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, two congressional sources confirm to NPR.

In a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee chairs Friday, Trump said he "no longer" has the fullest confidence in Atkinson. The letter says the removal will be effective "30 days from today."

Atkinson first raised concerns about a complaint involving Trump's communications with Ukraine, which led to the impeachment inquiry.

Scientists are currently carrying out a trial to see whether a drug that's currently used to treat lupus and to prevent malaria might also help treat COVID-19.

Their interest is based on laboratory studies showing that the drug, hydroxychloroquine, blocked the coronavirus from entering cells. There's no solid evidence, as yet though, that the drug actually is an effective COVID-19 treatment.

In fact, medical experts have warned against buying it for that purpose, because that might exhaust supplies for people who actually need it.

The Trump administration announced Friday that doctors and hospitals can use federal aid to cover the costs of treating uninsured people who are suffering COVID-19.

The federal payments, part of a $100 billion aid package to health care providers, will specifically cover COVID-19 care. But some health policy experts say the program will be difficult to administer, because it's sometimes impossible to separate the cost of treating COVID-19 from the cost of treating a patient's other health problems, like kidney failure.

Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET

President Trump said Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people wear cloth or fabric face coverings, which can be made at home, when entering public spaces such as grocery stores and public transit stations. It is mainly to prevent those people who have the virus — and might not know it — from spreading the infection to others.

Updated at 7:57 p.m. ET

Just days after the White House coronavirus task force warned Americans to brace for sobering death tolls, the administration is vowing to reimburse hospitals for treating uninsured patients infected with the coronavirus.

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