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Joey Alders crowned 2020 F3 Asian Champion in dramatic season finale

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23.02.2020: •Dutch talent seals title in Thailand with race to spare

•Pinnacle Motorsport Jack Doohan suffers repeat of puncture heartbreak

•BlackArts Racing takes clean sweep of Driver, Team and Masters Classifications

•Dutch talent seals title in Thailand with race to spare

•Pinnacle Motorsport Jack Doohan suffers repeat of puncture heartbreak

•BlackArts Racing takes clean sweep of Driver, Team and Masters Classifications

BlackArts Racing’s Joey Alders of The Netherlands was crowned 2020 F3 Asian Champion after a dramatic season finale at the 4.554km Buriram International Circuit in Thailand today.

The 20-year-old clinched the crown in the penultimate race of the season when title rival Jack Doohan of Pinnacle Motorsport retired with a puncture while leading from pole for the second time this weekend. The 17-year-old Red Bull Junior driver finished runner-up in the final standings, with Hitech Grand Prix’s Nikita Mazepin third.

The 2020 F3 Asian Championship Certified by FIA title earns Alders 18 FIA super licence points, with Doohan taking 14 and Mazepin 12. With the top nine all earning super licence points, drivers who also pocket the potentially career-boosting credits are Absolute Racing’s Jamie Chadwick (10 points), Pinnacle Motorsport’s Pietro Fittipaldi (6), Yu Kanamaru of BlackArts Racing (4), Chadwick’s team mate Devlin DeFrancesco (3), Pinnacle’s Sebastian Fernandez (2), with Zen Motorsport’s Yu Kuai of China taking the final point.

It was a banner day for BlackArts Racing when Masters driver Thomas Luedi beat rival Paul Wong of Zen Motorsport in both races, winning the class title by 23 points. The China-based outfit also lifted the Team Classification title, beating Pinnacle Motorsport by 29 points and becoming the first Asian team to lift the crown while also taking a clean sweep of all three championships. Absolute Racing finished third in the Team standings ahead of Hitech Grand Prix.

First on the road in both Race 14 and 15 was guest driver and outgoing champion Ukyo Sasahara for Hitech Grand Prix, bidding farewell to the series in dominant style. Points classification winner in Race 14 was Chadwick, taking her first championship victory ahead of Alders and Fittipaldi. The win catapulted the W Series champion to fourth on the final classification leaderboard behind Mazepin. Fittipaldi was second over the line in the race, but later forfeit the points win after being handed a post-race penalty.

Race 15 saw consolation of sorts for Doohan as he took the points classification win from Chadwick, who also finished her season with a flourish and another podium finish, with newcomer Mikhael Belov of BlackArts Racing in third.

Race 14

Heading into the penultimate race of the season, Joey Alders knew he only had to finish third to clinch the title, even if rival and pole-sitter Jack Doohan won the race. Doohan made another superb getaway as the lights went out, soaring clear of the pack and pulling away. Ukyo Sasahara followed in the tracks of the Australian, but behind the pair was a frenzied jostling for position.

Pietro Fittipaldi got a sensational start from P5, as did Jamie Chadwick ahead of him on the second row, but the Brazilian was unstoppable, powering up into third at Turn 3 on the opening lap. Chadwick fought back, but Fittipaldi had the bit firmly between his teeth.

Now in fourth, Chadwick next came under pressure from fast-moving series newcomer Mikhael Belov, shod with fresh tires. Alders, meanwhile, had dropped down the order from P3 to sixth by the end of the opening lap, ahead of Yu Kanamaru and Tommy Smith.

Nikita Mazepin, who had lost a place off the start, recovered quickly, diving past first Smith and then Kanamaru to climb to seventh.

Fittipaldi, meanwhile, had closed the gap to Sasahara in second, getting in his slipstream and mounting a spirited attack on the Japanese driver. A lap later though, Chadwick was filling Fittipaldi’s mirrors. However, Belov also joined the fray in a close three-way battle, forcing Chadwick to defend and allowing Fittipaldi some breathing space.

Alders, meanwhile, remained down in sixth as Doohan pulled out a race lead of just under two seconds from Sasahara, who was now unchallenged in second ahead of Fittipaldi, with Belov was once again challenging Chadwick for fourth. The Russian made a bold move at Turn 4, going around the outside of Chadwick and powering through Turns 5 and 6 to make it stick and claim the position.

Belov next took the fight to Fittipaldi up ahead, diving up the inside of the Brazilian and into podium contention, an impressive run from his P7 starting position.

With four minutes remaining, Fittipaldi fought to reclaim third from Belov, while behind him, Chadwick now faced a challenge from Alders.

At the front though, there was high drama when disaster struck for Doohan for a second time, a puncture again halting the 17-year-old’s run to the flag. The Australian limped back to the pits, his championship hopes crushed.

After his sensational run, Belov too ran into trouble when he was handed a 10 second penalty, demoting him to fifth.

Sasahara took the flag, although ineligible to score points as a guest driver, followed across the line by Fittipaldi. However, the Brazilian was handed a post-race five second penalty for gaining an advantage when leaving and rejoining the track, demoting him to fourth on the time sheets and third in the points. Chadwick therefore took the points victory, her first of the season.

After Doohan’s retirement, points for third were more than enough to secure Alders the title and his 11th podium finish in 14 races.

Belov classified fifth after his penalty, but had the satisfaction of having set the fastest lap of the race, ahead of Yu Kanamaru, Yu Kuai and Mazepin.

Thomas Luedi took the Masters win from Paul Wong, thereby strengthening his position at the top of the category leaderboard as the championship headed towards its final race of the season.


Race 15

There was disappointment for Fittipaldi before the season’s final race even got underway when he was sidelined in the pits from his P3 grid position. As the lights went out for the final time in the 2020 season though, Sasahara blasted away from pole and was never headed on his run to the flag.

Behind him, Chadwick made a good getaway from P2, but almost immediately came under fire from Doohan, who tore past her on the opening lap at Turn 4. Further down the order, meanwhile, Wong saw his Masters title aspirations evaporate when he spun at Turn 1. Although he was able to continue, his classification rival Luedi had gained an unassailable lead and headed off to the flag and the 2020 Masters title.

Belov was quickly on the move off the start and rapidly up to sixth from his P8 grid position behind Mazepin and Yu Kuai. As Sasahara and Doohan pulled away in front, Chadwick led a tightly-packed seven-car train, each driver waiting for their moment to climb up the order.

The first to make a move was Mazepin, who went up the inside of Yu Kuai but then ran wide, allowing the Chinese driver to reclaim fourth. Moments later though, Yu Kuai himself ran wide and Mazepin needed no second invitation, snatching fourth. Next it was Belov who filled Yu Kuai’s mirrors, the Russian and Tommy Smith both passing the Zen Motorsport driver, demoting him to seventh ahead of Yu Kanamaru and Alders. He eventually finished ninth.

The final minutes of the 15-lap race saw Belov close up and challenge Mazepin, the two Russian drivers locking horns. While Mazepin held on to fourth, he was handed a five second time penalty for driving standards which dropped him down to eighth in the final classification and saw Belov take a podium finish on his championship debut weekend.

Sasahara took the flag for the final time with the series, followed by Doohan and Chadwick. Fourth was Ku Kanamaru ahead of Smith and Alders. Fittipaldi was classified tenth after an heroic run from the back of the grid after his unscheduled pre-race pit stop.

 Nikki Kemp  photos F3 ASIA

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The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19

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Alex Azar had sounded confident at the end of January. At a news conference in the hulking H.H.S. headquarters in Washington, he said he had the government’s response to the new coronavirus under control, pointing out high-ranking jobs he had held in the department during the 2003 SARS outbreak and other infectious threats.

“I know this playbook well,” he told reporters.

A Yale-trained lawyer who once served as the top attorney at the health department, Mr. Azar had spent a decade as a top executive at Eli Lilly, one of the world’s largest drug companies. But he caught Mr. Trump’s attention in part because of other credentials: After law school, Mr. Azar was a clerk for some of the nation’s most conservative judges, including Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court. And for two years, he worked as Ken Starr’s deputy on the Clinton Whitewater investigation.

As Mr. Trump’s second health secretary, confirmed at the beginning of 2018, Mr. Azar has been quick to compliment the president and focus on the issues he cares about: lowering drug prices and fighting opioid addiction. On Feb. 6 — even as the W.H.O. announced that there were more than 28,000 coronavirus cases around the globe — Mr. Azar was in the second row in the White House’s East Room, demonstrating his loyalty to the president as Mr. Trump claimed vindication from his impeachment acquittal the day before and lashed out at “evil” lawmakers and the F.B.I.’s “top scum.”

As public attention on the virus threat intensified in January and February, Mr. Azar grew increasingly frustrated about the harsh spotlight on his department and the leaders of agencies who reported to him, according to people familiar with the response to the virus inside the agencies.

Described as a prickly boss by some administration officials, Mr. Azar has had a longstanding feud with Seema Verma, the Medicare and Medicaid chief, who recently became a regular presence at Mr. Trump’s televised briefings on the pandemic. Mr. Azar did not include Dr. Hahn on the virus task force he led, though some of the F.D.A. commissioner’s aides participated in H.H.S. meetings on the subject.

And tensions grew between the secretary and Dr. Redfield as the testing issue persisted. Mr. Azar and Dr. Redfield have been on the phone as often as a half-dozen times a day. But throughout February, as the C.D.C. test faltered, Mr. Azar became convinced that Dr. Redfield’s agency was providing him with inaccurate information about testing that the secretary repeated publicly, according to several administration officials.

In one instance, Mr. Azar appeared on Sunday morning news programs and said that more than 3,600 people had been tested for the virus. In fact, the real number was much smaller because many patients were tested multiple times, an error the C.D.C. had to correct in congressional testimony that week. One health department official said Mr. Azar was repeatedly assured that the C.D.C.’s test would be widely available within a week or 10 days, only to be given the same promise a week later.



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How to negotiate refunds and conduct Zoom ceremonies

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Kyle Matson and Tracy Meng had to postpone their March 28th wedding in Kauai, Hawaii.

Source: Evan Chung

Tracy Meng and Kyle Matson had planned to get married Saturday, March 28. Instead, they’re hosting a Zoom ceremony.

Welcome to the new normal.

Meng, 32, a vice president at Checkout.com and Matson, 32, Chief of Staff at Robinhood, had booked a destination wedding for 120 guests. The two live in San Francisco and had been working for months to assemble of team of vendors from both Hawaii and California to meet in Kauai. 

Like thousands of other Americans, Meng and Matson had to cancel their wedding as states made the decision to limit group gatherings and the world has shifted to social distancing as a way of life. 

While Meng and Matson are still planning on having a wedding in Kauai in August, assuming life returns to normal, the two will be celebrating from their home on the date of the wedding. Instead of a normal wedding, they’ll be doing a virtual reception where a group of 30 guests, including the wedding parties, will bring dinner and drinks to their computers. Their guests will log in to Zoom, the video conference platform, which has become one of the few runaway business success stories of the past few weeks. Zoom shares have doubled in value since Jan. 31 at a time when the broader S&P 500 has fallen about 20%. 

“At this point we just have to be OK with things not being perfect, knowing that we’re not in control,” Meng said in an interview.

The U.S. wedding industry takes in billions of dollars each year, with venues, photographers, florists, caterers, videographers and other vendors establishing full-time businesses around the events. A U.S. wedding cost $44,000 on average in 2018, according to “Brides” magazine. Wedding ceremonies have come to an abrupt halt from coast to coast as large gatherings have been banned nationwide.

The Pleasantdale Chateau, a wedding venue in West Orange, New Jersey, has already canceled all of its weddings for the next eight weeks, costing it about $2 million in revenue, said Santiago Sevilla, director of operations. Sevilla said he laid off 90% of his staff last week, including waiters, bartenders and cleaning people who have worked together at The Pleasantdale Chateau for more than 10 years.

“There’s no work for them,” Sevilla said. “At least if we lay them off, unemployment can cover them. I haven’t done this much crying in years.”

Rescheduling madness

The Pleasantdale Chateau is now hoping to rely on a combination of insurance and loans from the government, including a national stimulus package that is dedicating $350 billion in loans to small businesses to help survive the year. The lack of certainty about when weddings can be rebooked is adding to everyone’s stress.

“I’ve got brides panicking with weddings in September,” said Sevilla.

Given venue policies, Lavish Weddings, a wedding planner based in San Diego, is working as a conduit to control the flow of cancellations by only allowing customers to nix weddings through the end of June, said owner Christine Ong Forsythe. Lavish helps plan about 40 weddings per year, working with vendors to coordinate around a time and setting.

Now the majority of Forsythe’s time is being spent working with vendors and clients to come up with agreeable cancellation policies around deposits. Forsythe estimates about half of her vendors have given couples 100% of their money back if they’ve had to cancel their wedding, though nearly all have first tried to reschedule before canceling and keeping some of the deposit.

“Obviously not everyone has pandemic in their contract,” Forsythe said. “It’s hard for our clients and it’s hard for vendors. We understand if they can’t do a full refund — a lot of people can’t. It’s not their choice to cancel.”

Rescheduling events means vendors can’t book a different client for the future date, so they’re doubling up on reservations and collecting only one fee instead of earning two fees.

Moreover, rebooking events for later this year or next year creates hectic weekends and extremely long hours, said Jeremiah Cox, a wedding videographer at ParkLife Wedding Films in Champaign, Illinois. Cox said his company tries to avoid back-to-back weddings because the company films and edits on the fly, showing a six minute highlight film of the day’s events to guests at the reception that night. The work is frequently 12 hours of “nonstop, go-go-go work,” he said.

“It’s going to be crazy,” Cox said. “We’ve never taken back to back days before. But it’s desperate times.”

The National Association for Catering & Events chapter of Maine recently held a Zoom conference call for its members championing a campaign from HoneyBook, a business software company for wedding planners and related vendors, entitled “#RescheduleDontCancel.” 

The Maine-based chapter has been brainstorming ideas around rescheduling with clients, including altering weddings to smaller groups of people who might be comfortable in certain situations.

“Maybe you have 20 people, but they all get caviar and you livestream the wedding to everyone else,” said Katrina Petersen, the Program Director of NACE Maine and an owner of a wedding venue. “Maybe you send some gifts to grandma and grandpa. Maybe each couple at the wedding gets their own table to keep distance, and they each get a nine-course dinner and champagne.” 

But many March, April and May weddings are destination weddings, which have led to more outright cancellations than postponements than would occur in-season for cold weather U.S. states, such as Maine. That’s caused vendors and couples to start looking at fine print around contracts they never thought they’d have to examine to figure out what deposit money can or should be refunded.

“This is a somewhat unprecedented situation,” Jonathan M. Dunitz, a lawyer at Verrill in Portland, Maine, said during the NACE Maine conference call. “Even lawyers are scrambling to figure out what’s going to happen with contracts.”

Scouring contracts

The primary issue is defining a so-called “force majeure,” or “act of God,” which many contracts contain that say certain external acts allow vendors to keep prepaid fees. But the language around what’s covered by force majeure is typically very specific, and “very few cover nationwide epidemic,” Dunitz said.

“We don’t really know if this will be considered an act of God,” Dunitz said.

Many contracts only require full refunds if the vendor cancels, rather than the couple. That can lead to a game of chicken between the two parties, with each side pushing their coronavirus tolerance to the maximum, said James Dungan, a Chicago resident who canceled his destination wedding in Austin, Texas on March 29 and hasn’t rescheduled given the uncertainty of coronavirus quarantines.

“It was a really messy process trying to cancel because nobody wanted to cancel,” said Dungan, who noted that vendors in Austin had already been hit hard by the cancellation of South by Southwest, the annual conference and festival that was scheduled to run from March 13 to March 22 this year. Dungan said he ended up negotiating refunds on a vendor-by-vendor basis, sometimes trying to push partial refunds to full reimbursements. “I totally described it as a game of chicken to friends,” Dungan said.

Dungan, 31, and Hurst, 29, are now planning on dressing up for their wedding in full (Hurst picked up her wedding dress earlier this week) and walking over to Lake Michigan on March 29 to celebrate on their own, followed by baking and eating their own wedding cake.

“We were planning on making our own for the wedding anyway,” Hurst said. “Now we’ll just eat it at home ourselves.”

Christina Vargas and Dan Kornfeld have made the decision to cancel their May wedding on account of coronavirus quarantines.

Source: Christina Vargas

Christina Vargas, 37, and her husband, Dan Kornfeld, 47, were savvy enough to buy wedding insurance in late February after coronavirus beginning spreading wildly in China. Still, the couple found that many policies didn’t cover for pandemic and only purchased one after ensuring the language protected them. They’ve moved their May 16 wedding to December 5 in hopes they won’t need to use the insurance at all.

Unfortunately, Vargas and Kornfeld already got their May 16 date engraved into their wedding bands. Vargas said she’s already made a date with her ring-maker to add December 5 to the ring “as soon as everything clears up.”

Deciding to cancel, and sending an e-mail to the entire guest list alerting them that the wedding is off, can be emotionally excruciating. Sara Padua, 36, and her husband David Cordua, 37, looked into setting up hand sanitizer stations at their venue in Mexico City and even “had the transportation people agree to put masks in every shuttle” before making the gut-wrenching decision to cancel.

They plan to reschedule in Mexico City, in part because they’ve already paid in full and wouldn’t get a refund, said Padua, and also because they still want their dream destination wedding, even if they have to wait.

No end date in sight

Rebooking has become a game for many couples who are deciding how far out they’re comfortable rescheduling their wedding while not knowing when quarantines will lift. It’s possible some couples may need to reschedule twice if they rebook too early. 

Rachel Shkolnik marries Evan Shaffer at her parents’ house after cancelling their Cipriani wedding.

Source: Rachel Shkolnik

Rachel, 30, and Evan Shaffer, 36, decided to cancel their wedding at Cipriani in midtown New York City for 350 guests on March 15. They’ve coordinated with all of their vendors to reschedule for late June, realizing they may have chosen a day that’s too early for quarantines to have ended.

In the meantime, the Shaffers found a way to still get legally married and even celebrate. They gathered at Rachel’s parents’ house on Centre Island in Oyster Bay, New York and had a rabbi marry them in front of immediate family and a few cousins to make a minyan of 10 people.

And if people still don’t come together to celebrate by June 28?

“If we still can’t get married in late June at this venue, we have a lot more concerns as a country than a wedding reception,” Rachel said.

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Trump a rosy outlier on science of the virus

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Groundless assurances keep coming from President Donald Trump, a rosy outlier on the science of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s been that way since before the virus spread widely in the United States, when he supposed that the warmer weather of April might have it soon gone, a prospect the public health authorities said was not affirmed by the research. Now he’s been talking about a country revved up again by Easter, April 12, while his officials gingerly play down that possibility from the same White House platform.

A look at some recent statements during a week when the U.S. death toll reached roughly 1,700 and America rose to No. 1 globally in the number of people infected by COVID-19 since the pandemic began:

TUNNEL VISIONS

TRUMP: “There is tremendous hope as we look forward and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” — briefing Tuesday.

HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: “The light at the end of tunnel may be a train coming at us.” — news conference Thursday.

THE FACTS: In this darkness, they may both be right about the light ahead.

Pandemics pass, though they may exact a terrible cost, as this one is doing. Public health leaders also affirm the truth in Pelosi’s statement that a train will bear down on the nation before it’s over “if you do not heed the advice of the scientific community about isolation … and avoiding as much communal contact as possible — in fact none.”

Yet the California Democrat, like Trump, said better days will come. She said the know-how and commitment of scientists and the money approved by Washington to find a vaccine and cure some day do constitute “light at the end of the tunnel.”

The U.S. now has more than 104,000 confirmed cases, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University, based on figures reported by governments and health authorities. That’s now more than infections in Italy and China, where the virus was first believed to have started.

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NATIONAL SHUTDOWN

TRUMP: “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” — Fox News virtual town hall Tuesday.

TRUMP: “We have to open up our country, I’m sorry.” — conference call with governors Tuesday, audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

THE FACTS: To be clear, the federal government did not close the country and won’t be reopening it. He’s encouraging governors to do so. And against the sentiment of public health experts, he’s contending that many people can soon go back to their workplaces while still staying a safe distance from each other. The disease is highly contagious.

Restrictions on public gatherings, workplaces, mobility, store operations, schools and more were ordered by states and communities, not Washington. The federal government has imposed border controls; otherwise its social-distancing actions are mostly recommendations, not mandates.

On relaxing restrictions and returning to normal, Fauci told CNN on Wednesday: “You’ve got to understand that you don’t make the timeline; the virus makes the timeline.” He told that day’s White House briefing: “No one is going to want to tone down anything when you see what is going on in a place like New York City.”

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TRUMP: “I mean, we have never closed the country before, and we have had some pretty bad flus, and we have had some pretty bad viruses.” — Fox News virtual town hall Tuesday.

THE FACTS: He’s making a bad comparison.

The new coronavirus is not the same as the annual flu because it’s a disease that hadn’t been seen before in humans. For that reason, human populations lack immunity to the virus. It can spread unchecked, except by measures such as social distancing.

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VIRUS TESTING

TRUMP: “Over an eight day span, the United States now does more testing than what South Korea (which has been a very successful tester) does over an eight week span. Great job!” — tweet Wednesday.

THE FACTS: While the acceleration of U.S. testing is welcome news, the comparison with South Korea isn’t very illuminating. The U.S. has more than six times the population of South Korea, about 330 million compared with about 50 million.

As of Friday, South Korea reported testing over 375,000 of its citizens, compared with 685,000 tests in the U.S., according to the government’s latest update.

That means when adjusted for population size, South Korea is testing about four times more of its citizens than the U.S.

The two countries are also at different stages in their outbreaks. Daily case counts are rapidly rising in the U.S., where the coronavirus struck later on. In South Korea, the curve has been leveling off.

The U.S. count is going up fast in part because the virus is spreading and in part because of a test shortage that lasted weeks, as well as a backlog in laboratories reporting results. In that time, Trump falsely asserted that anyone who wanted or needed to get the test could.

South Korea’s coronavirus response has been marked by an emphasis on widespread testing that earned global praise. But even in that country the government is stressing social distancing measures because of worries the outbreak could pick up again.

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HOW DEADLY?

TRUMP on the death rate from COVID-19: “I think it’s substantially below 1%, because the people don’t report.” — Fox News interview Thursday.

THE FACTS: No one knows the death rate. Fauci says it may end being roughly 1%. If that turns out right, it would mean that the disease is 10 times deadlier than the average seasonal flu, with its death rate of about 0.1%. Fauci’s estimate includes people whose cases are not reported.

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TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

TRUMP: “In Canada we do have troops along the border.” — news briefing Thursday.

THE FACTS: No, the U.S. has not sent troops to police the mutual closing of the Canada-U.S. border to nonessential, noncommercial traffic. The border is controlled on both sides by nonmilitary entry stations.

“Canada and the United States have the longest unmilitarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

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TRUMP: “We’re the ones that gave the great response, and we’re the ones that kept China out of here. … If I didn’t do that early call on China — and nobody wanted that to happen. Everybody thought it was just unnecessary to do it.” — news briefing Wednesday.

TRUMP: “Everybody was against it. Almost everybody, I would say, was just absolutely against it. … I made a decision to close off to China that was weeks early. … And I must say, doctors — nobody wanted to make that decision at the time.” — Fox News virtual town hall Tuesday.

TRUMP: “I’ll tell you how prepared I was, I called for a ban.” — news briefing on March 19.

THE FACTS: His decision was far from solo, nor was it made over opposition from health experts, as the White House coronavirus task force makes clear. His decision followed a consensus by his public health advisers that the restrictions should take place.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who was coordinator of the task force at the time and announced the travel restrictions, said Trump made the decision in late January after accepting the “uniform recommendation of the career public health officials here at HHS.”

While the World Health Organization did advise against the overuse of travel restrictions, Azar told reporters in February that his department’s career health officials had made a “considered recommendation, which I and the president adopted” in a bid to slow spread of the virus.

Most major airlines had already suspended flights to China prior to the announcement on Jan. 31, following the lead of several major international carriers that had stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak. Delta, American and United cited a sharp drop in demand for the flights, and an earlier State Department advisory told Americans not to travel to China because of the outbreak.

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TRUMP, on the early China travel restrictions: “And if we didn’t do that, thousands and thousands of people would have died.” — news briefing Wednesday.

THE FACTS: The impact hasn’t been quantified. While Fauci has praised the travel restrictions on China for slowing the virus, it’s not known how big an impact they had or if “thousands and thousands” of lives were saved.

There were plenty of gaps in containment.

Trump’s order did not fully “close” the U.S. off to China, as he asserts. It temporarily barred entry by foreign nationals who had traveled in China within the previous 14 days, with exceptions for the immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Americans returning from China were allowed back after enhanced screening at select ports of entry and for 14 days afterward. But U.S. scientists say screenings can miss people who don’t yet show symptoms of COVID-19; while symptoms often appear within five days or six days of exposure, the incubation period is 14 days.

A recent study from the journal Science found China’s internal crackdown modestly delayed the spread of the virus. It cast doubt that travel restrictions elsewhere will do much compared with other preventive measures, citing in part the likelihood that a large number of people exposed to the virus had already been traveling internationally without being detected.

For weeks after the first U.S. case of the coronavirus was confirmed in January, government missteps caused a shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, leading to delays in diagnoses.

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ECONOMY

TRUMP on the economic hit: “I don’t think its going to end up being such a rough patch.” — briefing Wednesday.

THE FACTS: His optimism is a stretch.

Even in a best case — the pandemic subsides relatively quickly and economic growth and jobs come back without a long lag — some damage is done. The $2.2 trillion federal rescue package, equal to half the size of the entire federal budget, means record debt on top of the record debt that existed before the crisis.

Why is too much debt bad? A report this month by the Congressional Budget Office says that over time, the growth in the government’s debt can dampen economic output and progressively reduce the income of U.S. households, among other “significant risks to the nation’s fiscal and economic outlook.”

That said, the global markets consider this a good time for the U.S. government to borrow. With interest on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note at 0.75%, investors are offering to loan money to the federal government at a loss after accounting for inflation.

Meantime the longest economic expansion in U.S. history is surely over. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says: “We may well be in a recession.”

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DRUG TREATMENTS

TRUMP: “Clinical trials in New York will begin … for existing drugs that may prove effective against the virus. … The hydroxychloroquine and the Z-Pak, I think as a combination, probably, is looking very, very good. And it’s going to be distributed. … And I think a lot of people are going to be — hopefully — they’re going to be very happy with the results.” — news briefing Monday.

THE FACTS: For days Trump inflated the prospects for a quick treatment or cure for COVID-19. This is one example. No drugs have been approved as a treatment, cure, preventive medicine or vaccine for the disease, and public health officials say not to expect anything imminently.

Although research studies are beginning on using the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, scientists urge caution about whether the drugs will live up to Trump’s promises. It’s also not clear whether FDA had yet approved studying the two-drug “Z-pak” combination.

Dr. Michelle Gong, a critical care chief at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center, told the Journal of the American Medical Association that it is imperative for doctors to do careful studies of drugs such as chloroquine to make sure they actually work, rather than just administering them to patients because they have nothing else to offer. Without that proof, “it is very easy for us to do more harm,” she said.

So far there is very little data to go on, mostly anecdotal reports from some other countries. But test tube studies in laboratories suggest the drugs may interfere with the coronavirus being able to enter cells. U.S. cardiologists have been warned by colleagues in China to be alert for side effects in heart patients.

In Arizona, an older couple experienced disastrous results when they took an additive used to clean fish tanks, chloroquine phosphate. The husband died and his wife was in critical condition. That prompted a major Phoenix health system to warn the public against self-medicating.

Trump’s mention of a Z-Pak is a reference to azithromycin, an antibiotic. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses, but people severely ill with viral pneumonia sometimes develop secondary bacterial infections. When there are signs of that, hospitals already are using antibiotics. It’s part of standard supportive care for severe pneumonia.

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Associated Press writers Lauran Neergaard, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Josh Boak and Matthew Perrone in Washington and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

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EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.

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Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck





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