U.S. COVID-19 Coverage & Conversation: May 10-11

Vice President Mike Pence self-isolated on Sunday after one of his aides tested positive for COVID-19 late last week.According to reports, he plans to return to the White House today. Additionally, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) will self-quarantine after a staff member tested positive for the virus on Sunday. He will self-quarantine in Tennessee for 14 days.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a phased reopening for England; however, strict measures will continue in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. According to his announcement, people with jobs such as construction and manufacturing will be “actively encouraged” to return to work. Additionally, starting Wednesday, people will be able to go outside for unlimited exercise and sit on park benches – rather than for one hour a day.

On Sunday Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine defended his decision to take steps to reopen parts of the state’s economy. He noted that that “the economy’s not going to reopen no matter what we do, whatever we order, unless people have confidence.” He noted that the state will strongly encourage social distancing, masks and diligent hand-washing.

According to a recent commentary in Gut, a British Medical Journal publication, based on evidence from China, if a COVID-19 patient presents with gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, more than a quarter of them might not have respiratory symptoms. Previous work had shown that less than 4% of COVID-19 patients had these types of symptoms, but this study put the rate at 11%.

 Avianca, one of Latin America’s largest airlines has filed for bankruptcy. Avianca CEO Anko van der Werff stated “Avianca is facing the most challenging crisis in out 100-year history as we navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Former President Barack Obama delivered a strong commentary on how current President Donald Trump is handling the pandemic. In his comments, he noted that his response is “an absolute chaotic disaster” as well as “anemic.” Other critics of the U.S. government have already stated that officials had wasted time in February by failing to ramp up testing and stockpile supplies as the virus spread in Europe.

On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that nursing home staff in New York will have to be tested twice a week for COVID-19.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that malls, cafes, and playgrounds will begin to open over the next few days. She stated that the nation will start a phased relaxation of restrictions on May 14. Schools will follow on May 18, while bars will be allowed to open their doors on May 21. However, groups will be limited to 10 people and social distancing rules will remain in place.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide answers on why it used the antimalarial drug in treatment of veterans for COVID-19. He has stated that he remains concerned about whether or not the VA was conducting “clandestine studies to determine whether hydroxychloroquine was effective without their permission.”

Leader of the Oglala Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes rejected South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s demand that they remove COVID-19 checkpoints installed on state and U.S. highways within two days. Her demand also noted that if they did not remove the checkpoints, they would face legal action. Julian Bear Runner, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, said “we have an inherent and sovereign right to protect the health of our people, and no one, man or woman, can dispute that right.”

 Note: The map showcases the different types of topics that have been covered and talked about in the past 24 hours. The map details how each of these topic clusters are tied to or connected to other topic clusters. 


  • COVID-19 positive cases on the Hill & the White House: Late last week and over the weekend, there were more reports about people close to politicians testing positive for COVID-19. On Friday, we learned that one of Vice President Pence’s aides tested positive, which led to him self-isolating over the weekend; however, it was reported that he was going to come back to the White House on Monday. Additionally, other top officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci (director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Dr. Robert Redfield (director of the Centers for Disease and Prevention) and Sr. Stephen Hahn (commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration) have gone into quarantine because of exposure to a person at the White House who tested positive for the virus. Additionally, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced he will self-quarantine in Tennessee for 14 days after one of his staff members tested positive for the virus.
  • COVID-19 and the human body: As the pandemic continues, more studies are unearthing new details about how the virus impacts our bodies. For the past few weeks, most people have been connecting the virus with the lungs because we have focused on symptoms like nasty coughs or struggling to breathe. However, new research points to a connection with our gut. According to a recent study that was published in Gut, a British Medical Journal publication, the molecule that the virus attacks in our bodies – Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 or ACE2, is present not only in our lungs, but also in our gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, it was reported that men have high levels of the ACE2 enzyme, which may explain why men are more vulnerable to the virus.  According to experts, this might be the reason why significant number of cases show gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Small studies have also shown that patients with gastrointestinal symptoms have had poorer outcomes – they have had more severe diseases, higher fevers and a greater risk to their livers.
  • Impact on businesses: More companies are starting to file for bankruptcy as we continue to see the economic fallout from the pandemic. Last week, J. Crew and Neiman Marcus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Over the weekend, the world’s second-oldest airline, Avianca, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a court in New York. The filing was due to the pandemic, which grounded their flight operations since mid-March and had reduced the company’s income by over 80%. According to reports, the airline had failed to meet a bond payment deadline that added pressure to its already thin bottom line. Some companies are making different moves. According to coverage, Chesapeake Energy Corp announced that it would prepay a total of $25 million in incentive compensation to 21 of its top executives to ensure they are motivated. This news was announced as other reports highlighted the company is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection to tackle is almost $9 billion debt.
  • Institutions caring for vulnerable populations: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to explain why they used the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of veterans who were infected by COVID-19. He asked the VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to disclose whether the Trump administration or the White House had pressured the agency to use the drug as a treatment. Additionally, he probed on a recent analysis from the VA that suggested that patients were more likely to die when treated with the drug in question. Nursing homes have also faced scrutiny as more information has come out on how they were handling the pandemic. In response to this, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ordering that nursing homes in New York test their staff twice a week. In addition to this guidance, he noted that those that do not follow this protocol will lose their licenses.

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In the past 24 hours, journalists and outlets that have the influence and engagement around COVID-19 were:


  • Over the past 24 hours, the most engaging post is from AARP honoring our moms this Mother’s Day as ‘essential workers’ during COVID-19. AARP also published a popular post on Facebook with an article on Jane Goodall where she shares what she’s learned about COVID-19, hope, and the secret to vitality in her 9th decade.
  • Another highly engaged-with post on social media was released on Facebook by adult film actress, Sunny Leone. Leone posted photo with her children in her “home away from home and secret garden in Los Angeles” and wished all mother’s a very happy Mother’s Day.
  • UNICEF continues to share intriguing content over social media. Yesterday, they shared on Facebook the work and life-saving support the organization is providing to children and their families living in conflict zones and crowded camps. Specifically in Nigeria, UNICEF promotes the importance of hand washing with a photo of mother and daughter staying healthy together and washing their hands.
  • President Trump received attention on Twitter for his message promoting the great work the government is currently doing to handle COVID-19 in comparison to previous deathly outbreaks. He shares, “We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic, especially the very early BAN of people from China, the infectious source, entering the USA. Compare that to the Obama/Sleepy Joe disaster known as H1N1 Swine Flu. Poor marks, bad polls – didn’t have a clue!”
  • Social media users are finding enjoyment in humorous content about COVID-19 on Twitter. One engaging post shared a “Government COVID Slogan generator” with bizarre slogans, and another poked fun at Michael Jordan saying, “someone tell Michael Jordan the coronavirus said it was better than him.”
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped into the spotlight on social media with announcement of new mandatory regulation that all nursing home staff must now be tested for COVID-19 twice a week.
  • People on social media, most notably White House correspondent April Ryan, are showing concern about Vice President Pence entering the White House after his press secretary tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.


More companies are preparing for a prolonged economic downturn. With many sectors now forecasting a prolonged slowdown in demand, more companies are increasingly turning to layoffs and permanent shutdowns to weather the storm – highlighting the need for corporate leaders to develop long-term, contingency-based plans. 


Brand news focuses on companies’ efforts to support their employees and the public amidst COVID-19. Brands are continuing to embrace cultural moments to bring people together during quarantine, while also working to protect consumers and employees as more businesses begin to reopen this week. 

  • Johnson & Johnson announced it is upscaling its manufacturing and preparing for clinical trials in September, with the goal of delivering 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine next year.
  • In response to Jimmy Fallon’s viral teacher appreciation video last week, Chipotle announced it is giving free chips and guac to the first 50,000 teachers who text in.
  • As part of its new “Listening Together” campaign – which pinpoints two different locations where users are simultaneously listening to the same song – Spotify has also tapped celebrities to share what they’re listening to in quarantine through “Listening Together” playlists.
  • Apple is planning to reopen stores in Alabama, Alaska, Idaho and South Carolina this week with new social distancing precautions limiting the number of customers who can be in the store.
  • Delta Airlines is suspending service at Chicago Midway International Airport and nine other locations, effective May 13 until at least September.