Monday's Mini-Report, 3.30.20

Today's edition of quick hits.
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By Steve Benen

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Rural hospitals "trying to stay afloat in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic are a long way from normal. Often underfunded, understaffed and undersupplied, they're now facing the looming impacts of COVID-19."

* The latest congressional infection: "Rep. Nydia Velazquez said Monday she's been 'diagnosed with presumed coronavirus infection,' three days after she spoke on the House floor and stood near 80-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the signing of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill."

* Possible vaccine developments: "Johnson & Johnson announced Monday that it has selected a coronavirus vaccine candidate to test in humans. The experimental vaccine will begin the first phase of human clinical trials in September, and if the testing goes as planned, the first round of vaccines could be administered under emergency authorization in early 2021, according to the company."

* Oversight: "The nation's top government watchdogs on Monday appointed Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general for the Pentagon, to lead the newly created committee that oversees implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed by President Donald Trump last week."

* Falling short on manufacturing: "When President Trump came to office, he promised a new day with America's manufacturers, casting himself as the first president who understood their needs.... Yet in the first national crisis that required harnessing American manufacturing ingenuity and ramping up production of ventilators, perhaps the most crucial piece of equipment for patients in crisis, the White House's ability to gather the power of American industry crumpled."

* A tough read: "[P]hysicians are increasingly coming to grips with the fact they could die, too. They are routinely exposed to harsher viral loads as the number of patients flooding emergency rooms and urgent care centers mounts by the hour.... That means health care workers, many in their 20s or 30s, are making arrangements to ease the burden on their loved ones."

* Hungary takes a step backward: "Hungary's parliament on Monday approved a bill giving Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government extraordinary powers during the coronavirus pandemic, without setting an end date for their expiration."

* Jackson Diehl's unflattering take on Mike Pompeo: "Has any secretary of state been worse in an emergency? It's impossible to think of a more feckless performance since World War II.... While more responsible leaders have struggled to contain the pandemic, Pompeo has pursued pet causes as if nothing else were happening."

* A trial worth watching: "The first patients in a 'historic' drug trial to test treatments for the coronavirus have been enrolled in Norway and Spain, World Health Organization officials announced Friday."

* An investigation worth watching: "The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn stemming from the spread of coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter."

* Kim Jong-un, no one has time for you right now: "North Korea launched two projectiles into the Sea of Japan on Sunday, South Korean military officials said. In a statement to NBC News, South Korea's Joint Chief of Staff called the move 'totally inappropriate behavior' at a time when the world was battling a pandemic."

See you tomorrow.