The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • President Trump said that officials are considering temporarily limiting flights to and from “hot spots” in the United States that have seen significant numbers of coronavirus cases.

“I am looking at hot spots. I am looking at where flights are going into hot spots. Some of those flights I didn’t like from the beginning, but closing up every single flight on every single airline, that’s a very, very, very rough decision,”

  • The Treasury Department said that Social Security recipients who typically don’t file tax returns will automatically receive their coronavirus relief checks and will not have to file tax returns to receive their payments. The announcement comes two days after the IRS released guidance that suggested Social Security beneficiaries would need to file what are known as simple tax returns to receive the money.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top official at the National Institutes of Health, said that improved coronavirus testing and tracing of infected people’s contacts will help the country eventually be able to ease up on measures such as stay-at-home orders. 

During a White House briefing Dr. Fauci said that he would like to see enough capacity to test a wide range of people and the ability to determine who those that test positive have been in contact with.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most visible figures on the White House coronavirus task force, has been given a security detail after receiving threats, a person familiar with the matter confirmed.
  • President Trump said he would “absolutely” take a call from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to discuss the response to the coronavirus. 

“Oh absolutely. I’d love to speak to him,” Trump said during a White House coronavirus briefing. “I always found him to be a nice guy,” he added.

UPDATE: President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, are arranging a call to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the Biden campaign confirmed Wednesday.

  • President Trump is holding back on declaring a nationwide stay-at-home order, even as some governors resist imposing restrictions that Trump’s top public health officials say are needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The president has been reluctant to wade into matters he argues are better left to governors. But the pressure is growing for Trump to be decisive as Republican-led states like Texas, Iowa and Missouri are among the final holdouts to issue stay-at-home directives.

  • The Pentagon is looking into providing an additional 100,000 military-style body bags for civilian use, as the expected death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has requested 100,000 body bags, officially called human remains pouches, and the Pentagon is looking to buy more body bags, as it dips into its stockpile of 50,000.

  • Vice President Pence urged Americans to avoid church services of more than 10 people as some faith leaders have come under scrutiny for holding crowded events despite social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The national stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) is nearly empty as federal officials scramble to acquire more essential items such as masks and gloves to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
  • President Trump called on Congress to approve a tax deductibility for corporations spending money at restaurants and on entertainment, saying it would help industries impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Vice President Pence on Wednesday rejected the idea that President Trump “belittled the threat of the coronavirus,” despite the president saying in January and February that the disease was “under control” and likening it to the common flu.
  • Nearly 3,000 sailors will be taken off a U.S. aircraft carrier in the coming days, Navy leaders said Wednesday, after the ship’s captain penned a letter pleading for help to end a coronavirus outbreak on board.
  • During his press briefing, Trump bizarrely stated, “Did you know I’m number one on Facebook?  I just found out I’m number one on Facebook. I thought that was very nice…it represents something.” 

NOTE: Trump has 26 Million Facebook followers. President Obama has over double that.

  • The Trump administration ignored a pandemic warning from White House economists who published a study estimating possible effects of a pandemic in September. 

The 2019 study, ordered by the National Security Council, cautioned that a pandemic, like the coronavirus outbreak the world is now facing, could cause the deaths of a half-million Americans and cost the economy as much as $3.8 trillion. The study contradicts what administration officials have repeatedly said about the coronavirus coming out of nowhere and causing unforeseen devastation to the U.S. economy.

  • As American hospitals are running low on personal protective gear, such as N95 masks or purified air personal respirators, for medical staff, as well as life-saving ventilators for patients, a review of government records detailed dozens of foreign shipments of the equipment U.S. hospitals are lacking. 

While much of the world moved swiftly to lock down crucial medical supplies, the U.S. dithered, maintaining business as usual and allowed large shipments of American-made respirators and ventilators to be sold to foreign buyers.

  • As the US healthcare system has scrambled to track the spread of coronavirus, one of the nation’s largest commercial labs has faced a backlog of tests that ballooned in the last two weeks, and has delayed results in some cases up to 10 days.

New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics had about 160,000 coronavirus test orders waiting to be processed on March 25, which amounted to about half of the 320,000 total orders for the tests the company had received up to that date

Other Administration News

  • The US Food and Drug Administration is requesting that manufacturers pull all prescription and over-the-counter ranitidine drugs, known by the brand name Zantac, from the market immediately.

The FDA noted that an ongoing investigation has determined that levels of a contaminant in the heartburn medications increase over time and when stored at higher-than-normal temperatures, pose a risk to public health.

  • Trump administration officials announced Wednesday that the U.S. military would send naval ships and aircraft to the Caribbean as part of an enhanced counternarcotics operation.
  • President Trump warned Iran and its proxies against carrying out what he alleged is a planned “sneak attack” on U.S. troops in Iraq. “Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!” Trump tweeted.
  • The Secret Service this week signed a $45,000 contract to rent a fleet of golf carts in Northern Virginia, saying it needed them quickly to protect a “dignitary” in the town of Sterling, home to one of President Trump’s golf clubs, according to federal contracting data.

The new contract, which the Secret Service described as an “emergency order,” does not mention Trump or the golf club by name. But it closely mirrors past contracts signed by the Secret Service, for agents accompanying Trump to his golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida.

  • After a growing chorus of complaints from White House officials, America First, the super PAC supporting President Trump’s re-election, is planning a $10 million advertising spree to attack former Vice President Joseph Biden in three Rust Belt states that were crucial to the president’s 2016 victory, officials with the group said on Wednesday.

The announcement about the ads — which will appear in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — came as campaign aides and a wide range of the president’s allies complained about a lack of activity from the group.

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