Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump Accuses China of a Cover-Up

President Trump stepped up criticism of China, part of an international backlash over the outbreak.

President Trump accused the Chinese government of making a “horrible mistake” in its coronavirus response and of then orchestrating a cover-up that allowed the pathogen to spread around the world.

“My opinion is they made a mistake. They tried to cover it, they tried to put it out. It’s like a fire,” Mr. Trump said on Sunday night during a virtual town hall on Fox News. “You know, it’s really like trying to put out a fire. They couldn’t put out the fire.”

“We’re going to be giving a very strong report as to exactly what we think happened,” Mr. Trump said. “And I think it will be very conclusive.”

Speaking on the ABC program “This Week,” Mr. Pompeo, the former C.I.A. chief and one of the senior administration officials who is most hawkish on dealing with China, said that there was “enormous evidence” that the coronavirus came from the lab, though he then agreed with the intelligence assessment.

The theories are not mutually exclusive: Some officials who have examined the intelligence reports, which remain classified, say it is possible that an animal infected with the coronavirus in the laboratory was destroyed and that a lab worker was accidentally infected in the process. But that is just one of many theories still being examined.

China has previously denied the virus originated in a laboratory.

The editor in chief of The Global Times, a nationalist tabloid controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, condemned the U.S. administration for making accusations without presenting evidence.

“Don’t just say there’s enormous evidence, Pompeo should present them to the world,” the editor, Hu Xijin, wrote on Twitter. “By demanding to investigate Wuhan lab they are trying to create continuous controversy and focus, to fool the American public.”

It is not just the Trump administration that has been increasingly critical of China.

The Times’s chief diplomatic correspondent for Europe, Steven Erlanger, reports that a backlash across the globe is building against Beijing for its initial mishandling of the crisis, creating a deeply polarizing battle of narratives and setting back China’s ambition to fill the leadership vacuum left by the United States.

A few months ago, a coalition of news organizations asked the Supreme Court to allow live audio coverage of major arguments on gay rights and immigration. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. rejected the request within hours, in keeping with longstanding practice at an institution that almost never departs from tradition.

But on Monday, the court will break with history twice: hearing the first of 10 cases that will be argued in a telephone conference call and letting the public listen in. It is a momentous step for a cautious and secretive institution and yet another way in which the coronavirus pandemic has forced American society to adjust to a new reality.

“It’s a remarkable development and completely unexpected,” said Bruce Collins, general counsel of C-SPAN, which will offer live coverage of the arguments.

Among the cases the justices will hear by phone over the next two weeks are three on May 12 about subpoenas from prosecutors and Congress seeking President Trump’s financial records, which could yield a politically explosive decision this summer as the presidential campaign enters high gear.

The court has never before heard a case by phone, a move that some lawyers fear will degrade the quality of the arguments and the spirited give-and-take of the courtroom. Nor has it allowed live audio coverage of its arguments, on rare occasions releasing same-day audio, but usually waiting until the end of the week to do so.

Now that those barriers have been broken, the question is whether at least some of the changes may last beyond the coming two weeks.

The justices may not return to the bench in October if the virus is still a threat, as several of them are in the demographic group thought to be most at risk. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 87, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer is 81. Four additional members of the court — Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Sonia Sotomayor — are 65 or older.

President Trump predicted on Sunday night that the death toll from the pandemic ravaging the country might reach as high as 100,000 in the United States, far higher than he had forecast just weeks ago, even as he pressed states to begin reopening the shuttered economy.

“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people,” he said in a virtual town hall meeting on Fox News. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this.”

But he credited himself with preventing the toll from being worse. “If we didn’t do it, the minimum we would have lost was a million two, a million four, a million five, that’s the minimum. We would have lost probably higher.”

He acknowledged he was warned about the coronavirus in his regular intelligence briefing on Jan. 23 but asserted that the information was characterized as if “it was not a big deal.”

“On Jan. 23, I was told that there could be a virus coming in but it was of no real import,” Mr. Trump said. “In other words, it wasn’t, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do something, we’ve got to do something.’ It was a brief conversation and it was only on Jan. 23. Shortly thereafter, I closed the country to China.”

Mr. Trump said his travel limit was not driven by the Jan. 23 warning. “I didn’t do it because of what they said,” he noted. “They said it very matter-of-factly, it was not a big deal.”

During the Fox broadcast, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democrat presidential candidate, posted a short video on social media criticizing the incumbent’s leadership during the pandemic.

“Donald Trump thought the job was about tweets and rallies and big parades,” a narrator says. “He never thought he’d have to protect nearly 330 million Americans. So he didn’t.”

Some Angelenos complained on social media that there were no time slots available on the website, which states that testing is available by appointment only, with priority given to front-line workers and people with symptoms of Covid-19. The tests are free for all residents of Los Angeles County, which is collaborating with the city on the effort.

Other people said that they had been unable to access the website, which requires visitors to give their name, address, date of birth, gender and race or ethnicity on an intake form.

“If testing slots are booked when you visit the site, we encourage you to revisit the site later in the day for slots that may have reopened due to no shows,” the city said in a Twitter post on Saturday night.

The website made its debut last week after Mayor Eric M. Garcetti declared that Los Angeles would become the first major U.S. city to offer all residents tests for the virus, which health officials said on Sunday had caused 1,229 deaths in Los Angeles County.

Mr. Garcetti said on Friday that he was very confident of the ability of the website to keep up with the demand for tests.

During his daily briefing on Friday, he said that health officials were reserving time slots for front-line workers and people with symptoms. As the day goes on, he said, spaces tended to open up.

All of the appointments for Monday and Tuesday have been booked, according to the mayor’s office, which advised residents to keep checking for slots. The city and county have the capacity to do 18,000 tests a day across 34 sites, Los Angeles officials said.

On Sunday, Mr. Pence said he had made a mistake.

“I didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic and I wore it when I visited the ventilator plant in Indiana,” he said during an appearance on Fox News.

Across the country, the decision to wear or not wear a mask can result in dirty looks, angry words, raw emotions and, at times, confrontations that have escalated into violence.

The decision not to wear a mask has, for some, become a rebellion against what they regard as an incursion on their personal liberties. For many others, the choice is a casual one more about convenience than politics. The choice can also be a reflection of vanity, or of not understanding when or where to wear one. Some people said they found masks uncomfortable, and thus a nuisance they were unwilling to tolerate. Others were skeptical about how much difference they made outside on a sunny day.

At least 12 countries began easing restrictions on public life on Monday, as the world tried to figure out how to placate restless populations tired of being inside and reboot stalled economies without creating opportunities for the coronavirus to re-emerge.

The steps, which include reopening schools and allowing airports to begin domestic service, offer the rest of the world a preview of how areas that have managed to blunt the toll of the coronavirus might work toward resuming their pre-pandemic lives. They also serve as test cases for whether the countries can maintain their positive momentum through the reopenings, or if the desire for normalcy could place more people at risk.

Most of the countries easing their restrictions are in Europe, including Italy, one of the places where the virus hit earliest and hardest, leaving more than 28,000 dead. The country plans to reopen some airports to passengers.

In Lebanon, bars and restaurants will reopen, while Poland plans to allow patrons to return to hotels, museums and shops.

India allowed businesses, local transportation and activities like weddings to resume in areas with few or no known infections. Wedding ceremonies with fewer than 50 guests would be permitted and self-employed workers like maids and plumbers can return to work.

J. Crew, known for producing preppy fashion with mass market appeal, filed for bankruptcy on Monday. The company is the first major retailer to fall victim to the pandemic that has hobbled the world economy.

The company, whose popularity was lifted more than a decade ago by Michelle Obama, had amassed enormous debt even before the outbreak. Since then, it has seen sales virtually wiped out at more than 170 J. Crew stores and a further 140 operated under the popular Madewell brand that it also owns.

While it is the first major retailer to fall to the coronavirus, J. Crew is unlikely to be the last. The pandemic halved sales of clothing and related accessories in March and is believed to have had an even greater effect in April. Neiman Marcus is carrying significant debt, for example.

And Brooks Brothers is already facing questions about its future.

From the early days of the Trump administration, Stephen Miller, the president’s chief adviser on immigration, has repeatedly tried to use an obscure law designed to protect the nation from diseases overseas as a way to tighten the borders.

The question was, which disease?

Mr. Miller pushed for invoking the president’s broad public health powers in 2019, when an outbreak of mumps spread through immigration detention facilities in six states. He tried again that year when Border Patrol stations were hit with the flu.

When vast caravans of migrants surged toward the border in 2018, Mr. Miller looked for evidence that they carried illnesses. He asked for updates on American communities that received migrants to see if new disease was spreading there.

In 2018, dozens of migrants became seriously ill in federal custody, and two under the age of 10 died within three weeks of each other. While many viewed the incidents as resulting from negligence on the part of the border authorities, Mr. Miller instead argued that they supported his argument that President Trump should use his public health powers to justify sealing the borders.

On some occasions, Mr. Miller and the president, who also embraced these ideas, were talked down by cabinet secretaries and lawyers who argued that the public health situation at the time did not provide sufficient legal basis for such a proclamation.

Follow what’s happening around the globe with our team of international correspondents.

Thousands of Palestinian workers have crossed into Israel, and there’s a fear that they might carry the virus home with them.

Reporting was contributed by David Sanger, Marc Santora, Peter Baker, Adam Liptak and Neil Vigdor.

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