The Past 24 Hours Or So

Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • Another 4.4 million Americans filed for initial jobless claims last week, bringing the total to at least 26 million people who have requested unemployment benefits since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

In just one month, all job gains since the Great Recession have disappeared, according to new data released Thursday by the Department of Labor. The economy had created around 22 million jobs since 2010, during a historic decade of economic expansion that came to an abrupt end in February.

  • The Trump administration is reportedly considering tying changes to the US Postal Service to the $18 billion emergency coronavirus loan from Congress, using the funds as leverage to influence the way the agency charges for package delivery and its hiring process.
  • Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott appeared to break with President Trump, who continues to assert the U.S. is doing excellent testing of the coronavirus, saying “we’re way behind.” He also pressed for faster work on a vaccine and said “when the vaccine becomes available, it needs to be free to all Americans.”
  • The Trump administration’s decision to sideline one of the government’s top vaccine specialists at the height of a global coronavirus pandemic has shocked scientists and science advocates who say the president is placing a greater value on loyalty to himself than on the facts and data that could save lives.
  • Michael Caputo, the new spokesman of the Department of Health of Human Services deleted tweets sharing conspiracy theories about China and the coronavirus just a few days before accepting the new role at the department at the center of responding to COVID-19 in the U.S.

One of the offensive deleted tweets read: “Millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the ass out of anteaters.”

  • President Trump lashed out at reporters from the Washington Post and CNN during the latest coronavirus task force briefing as they tried to ask questions, calling them “fake news” and refusing to take their questions.

“I’m the President and you’re fake news,” Trump told Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker. “CNN is fake news, don’t talk to me,” he said when another reporter asked a follow-up question.

  • President Trump is escalating his criticism of Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, saying at the latest coronavirus task force briefing that he was “not happy” with the governor’s decision to start reopening businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic and told him, “I don’t want this thing to flare up because you’re deciding to do something that is not in the guidelines.”
  • The Trump administration is under fire after an investigation revealed that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar hired a former Labradoodle breeder, who also served as a public relations official with no public health experience, to a top role at the department that now oversees the day-to-day response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • After a presentation by medical experts at the latest coronavirus task force briefing showed that heat and light helped to quickly kill the virus on surfaces, President Trump asked whether it would be possible to harness light and heat and use it on those sick with coronavirus, and later also asked if it would be possible to use an injection of disinfectants or “a cleansing” of the body as a treatment.

“Maybe you can, maybe you can’t… I’m not a doctor. But I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what,” Trump said, pointing to his head.

  • “You should at least be able to test the people in which you have to test to be able to do containment, and right now I think there’s still some gaps there,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a new interview as Trump asserts testing efforts in the U.S. are solid. “I mean, on paper it might look OK, but we absolutely need to significantly ramp up not only the number of tests, but the capacity to actually perform them.”
  • During the latest coronavirus task force briefing, at which Anthony Fauci was not present, President Trump said he disagreed with Fauci’s comments in a new interview that the U.S. needed more coronavirus testing: ” I don’t agree with him… We’ve tested far more than anyone else in the world and within a short period of time you’ll be hearing about new tests that are coming out that are going to be incredible.”
  • The Navy has tested the entire crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt for the coronavirus, with 840 sailors testing positive for the virus on the ship that drew national attention after its former commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, wrote a letter imploring the Navy for help with the outbreak which leaked to the media.
  • Attorneys for Rick Bright — a vaccine expert who had a top role fighting COVID-19 but says he was forced out for breaking with President Trump — say they will soon be filing a whistleblower complaint that will make clear he was sidelined solely because he resisted efforts to provide “unfettered access to potentially dangerous drugs, including chloroquine” that Trump promoted.
  • The House has overwhelmingly voted to pass legislation providing roughly $484 billion in coronavirus relief for small businesses, hospitals and expanded medical testing, capping weeks of contentious negotiations that had stalled Washington’s latest round of emergency aid.
  • The House has voted to create a select committee to oversee the federal response to the coronavirus crisis, which will have broad investigative authority over how taxpayer dollars are allocated and the Trump administration’s preparations for the crisis.
  • President Trump is giving funds originally for the World Health Organization to different health organizations after he announced he would withhold funds from WHO during the pandemic expressing frustration with its efforts responding to coronavirus.
  • China has announced it is planning to donate $30 million in additional funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight against COVID-19, shortly after the Trump administration suspended its own contributions over criticisms.
  • Vice President Pence said during a new interview with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh that if current trend lines hold, the coronavirus crisis could be largely “behind us” by early June, and said he “would not be surprised” if many in the country have already been exposed to the virus, which he says would allow “a degree of immunity” from the virus.
  • The Navajo Nation is joining 10 other tribes in a lawsuit against the Trump administration to secure their “fair share” of federal COVID-19 relief funding, alleging that the Treasury is giving funds meant for tribal governments to Alaska Native Corporations — multi-billion dollar for-profit corporations organized under state law, not tribal law, that are owned by shareholders who are not all of indigenous backgrounds.
  • Vaccination rates are down as parents opt out of well-visit trips amid the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reports. PCC, a pediatric electronic health records company, gathered vaccine information from 1,000 independent pediatricians nationwide to compare vaccination rates from Feb. 16 as a pre-coronavirus baseline with the rates during the week of April 5, the Times reports. 

Based on the data, the administration of measles, mumps and rubella shots dropped by 50 percent, diphtheria and whooping cough shots dropped by 42 percent and HPV vaccines dropped by 73 percent

  • The Treasury Department is looking into whether it has the authority to prevent coronavirus relief checks from being seized by private debt collectors, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to The Hill. Lawmakers have pressured the Trump administration to take action to prevent Americans’ $1200 stimulus payments from being garnished, as many desperately need them to afford necessities like food and shelter.
  • The Trump administration has announced a new rule requiring nursing homes to report confirmed coronavirus cases directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  as officials seek to keep track of the cases at such facilities, which have been hit hard by the disease.
  • Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday called on U.S. attorneys to “devote all necessary resources” to investigating reports of landlords who have allegedly demanded sexual favors in exchange for delayed rent payments or housing agreements.
  • The Federal Reserve announced that it will disclose who borrows, how much and at what cost from coronavirus emergency lending facilities it will soon open to businesses and local governments.

The Fed will reveal at least once every 30 days the companies and localities that borrow from its Main Street Lending Program and Municipal Lending Facility, which offer loans to creditworthy companies and local governments, respectively, facing financial pressure because of the coronavirus. The bank said it will also disclose the amount of each loan and the interest charged on it.

Other Administration News

  • The leader of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has promised a “crushing response” to any American military attacks in the Gulf after United States President Donald Trump threatened to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian vessels.

Iran officials on Thursday also accused Trump of “bullying” and said he should focus on caring for US service members infected with the coronavirus instead of making threats.

  • As much as a quarter of America’s 8th graders tested “below basic” in U.S. history, civics and geography in 2018’s national student testing, and “only 15% of them have a reasonable knowledge of U.S. history,” according to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos who criticized the poor results as “inexcusable” and blamed an “antiquated approach to education.”

Meanwhile, DeVos proposed a total restructuring of the nation’s K-12 grant programs and cutting federal education spending by more than $6 billion in 2021.

  • President Trump will nominate Anthony Tata, a retired Army brigadier general and frequent Fox News guest,  to be undersecretary of Defense for policy and replace John Rood, who was dismissed in February.

Tata has served in a number of roles since he left the military in 2009, including secretary of North Carolina’s Transportation Department, the CEO of the District of Columbia Public Schools and the superintendent of Wake County public schools in North Carolina.

  • The Trump administration outlined its plan for revitalizing the U.S. nuclear energy industry in a move that would boost uranium mining while benefiting just a handful of companies.

The report from the Nuclear Fuel Working Group includes a set of recommendations to the White House and comes as the price of uranium has steadily fallen over the past decade.

The group argues that measures to buoy the struggling companies will allow for a rebirth of nuclear power in the U.S. while disrupting China’s and Russia’s hold on the overseas market for reactors.

Sources:  ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Washington Post

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