The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • The U.S. is restricting travel along the border with Mexico in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the Trump administration announced Friday.

President Trump announced at a White House press briefing that nonessential travel would no longer be permitted between the U.S. and Mexico. The restrictions are the same ones applied to the U.S.-Canada border, and trade and commerce will be allowed to continue.

  • Economist Kevin Hassett is returning to the White House temporarily as an adviser to President Trump on economic policy. Hassett, who served as Trump’s chief economist for about two years at the beginning of his administration, will assume the advisory role as the United States grapples with the economic fallout of the coronavirus.
  • President Trump said Friday that student loan borrowers will be able to suspend loan payments for 60 days amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump said during a White House briefing that interest on federally held loans would be “temporarily waived.”
  • President Trump had a heated exchange with NBC reporter Peter Alexander during the coronavirus briefing on Friday, telling the newsman he should be ashamed of himself.

Trump was angered after Alexander asked whether he was giving Americans a false sense of hope with his optimism about a malaria drug’s potential use in response to the coronavirus.

  • President Trump’s family business has laid off staff at its resorts after they experienced decreased clientele as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. The Trump Organization reportedly cut staff from hotels and resorts in New York and Washington, D.C., halted new reservations at a property on the Las Vegas Strip and closed golf courses in Los Angeles and South Florida.
  • President Trump approved a disaster declaration for New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Trump’s order opens up federal support for state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by COVID-19.
  • President Trump doubled down on his campaign to cast a malaria drug as a coronavirus cure, saying the treatment could be a game changer despite skepticism from the Food and Drug Administration and other government officials.

“HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

  • President Trump insisted that his administration didn’t act late in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic following a report from the Washington Post that said the White House ignored early warnings from the intelligence community. 

The Post reported that the intelligence community was warning of the danger posed by the novel coronavirus throughout January and February as the White House downplayed the threat and was slow to roll out nationwide measures.

“I think the Washington Post covers us very inaccurately,” Trump said when asked about the Post’s report. “I saw the story, I think it’s a disgrace. But, it’s the Washington Post, and I guess we have to live with it. It’s a very inaccurate story.”

  • Vice President Pence said Saturday that he and second lady Karen Pence will be tested for the coronavirus after a member of the vice president’s staff tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The National Guard has deployed nearly 5,500 Air and Army National Guard troops in 32 states as of Saturday to combat the coronavirus outbreak. 
  • The National Guard said that those figures could “change rapidly as states identify needs” and that the missions for the troops include personal protective equipment training and sample collection; response planners; support to medical testing facilities; response liaisons and support to state Emergency Operations Centers; support to healthcare professionals; logistics support; and assisting with disinfecting/cleaning of common public spaces.
  • In a move aimed to ensure accurate information for the public about which products can help combat the spread of the coronavirus, The EPA, the Consumer Brands Association,  and others in the consumer packaged goods industry announced new steps for expediting reviews of products related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Trump administration has held up $40 million in emergency aid Congress approved earlier this month to help American Indians combat the coronavirus — a delay that’s left tribal leaders across the nation frustrated and ill-equipped to respond to the fast-growing outbreak.
  • Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China. The American disease expert, Dr. Linda Quick, a medical epidemiologist embedded in China’s disease control agency, left her post in July. 
  • Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicted the U.S. unemployment rate may hit 30% in the second quarter because of shutdowns to combat the coronavirus, with an unprecedented 50% drop in gross domestic product.
  • President Trump has suggested health care workers sanitize and reuse masks when treating coronavirus patients. However, neither the FDA nor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines suggest the possibility of sanitizing masks for safe reuse.
  • Despite what President Donald Trump said this week, most Americans who rent their home, many of whom have lost their jobs in the sudden economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak, will not be eligible for eviction protections .
  • Under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s plan, foreclosures and evictions would stop for 60 days on single-family homes with loans through the Federal Housing Administration. Roughly half of renters rent their home from an individual investor, while the other half rent from a business or multi-unit property owner. The ones renting from a business will not receive any protections according to HUD’s proposal.
  • FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said the Defense Production Act, authorized by President Trump last week, is an “insurance policy” that the government will use as a last resort.

Trump issued an executive order on Wednesday, authorizing the use of the DPA, a 1950s law that allows the government to force private businesses to produce emergency supplies necessary for national security. Trump has authorized it to combat the coronavirus but has yet to use it.

  • President Trump is suggesting he might lift restrictions intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus if the economic pain from the measures becomes too great, tweeting that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. The message from Trump comes as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States grows and New York becomes an epicenter. New York now accounts for an estimated five percent of the world’s cases.
  • President Trump on Sunday approved a disaster declaration for California over cases of the coronavirus spreading in the state.A news release Sunday evening from the White House stated that federal funding would be available for state, local and tribal organizations in California as officials attempt to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. More than 1,600 cases have been confirmed in the state.
  • President Trump on Sunday said undocumented immigrants should be able to get tested for coronavirus without fear of arrest or deportation.
  • President Trump said Sunday it’s “too bad” that Sen. Mitt Romney is in isolation due to exposure to a fellow Senate Republican who tested positive for the coronavirus. 

“Romney’s in isolation?” Trump said during the daily White House briefing after being asked about the senators in isolation. 

“Gee, that’s too bad,” the president added. Asked if there was any sarcasm in his remarks, Trump said, “None whatsoever.”

Other Administration News

  • The U.S. government will buy 30 million barrels of oil from producers amid a financial downturn for the industry. The Department of Energy announced it would conduct the sales to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
  • A former lawyer for a trophy hunting organization with ties to the Trump administration has joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Anna Seidman, formerly of Safari Club International, was hired as assistant director of international affairs for FWS.
  • The Department of the Interior heard major opposition Friday to its plans to roll back penalties for companies that kill birds, receiving letters from twenty-three Senators and eleven Attorneys General slamming the rule. 

The Trump administration is expected to finalize a proposal in the coming weeks that would punish the oil and gas industry, construction companies and others only if their work intentionally kills birds, ending the practice of penalizing those that “incidentally” kill birds.

  • Multiple groups on Friday sued the EPA over its decision to re-approve a chemical used in Bayer’s Roundup weed killer. The agency re-approved the chemical, known as glyphosate, in January, claiming that it doesn’t pose a danger to humans. Thousands of lawsuits, however, have attributed cancer to Roundup.

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