The Past 24 Hours Or So

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • The United States has now surpassed 60,000 domestic deaths from the novel coronavirus, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The U.S. accounts for roughly a quarter of the global deaths related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus

  • President Trump said that the novel coronavirus would eventually be “eradicated” with or without a vaccine so that Americans and businesses could return to normal life and operations.

“If you don’t have a vaccine, if the virus is gone, we are like we were before,” Trump told reporters. “Having a vaccine would be a great thing, and I think we are going to get there in this case.”

“I want to get back with or without,” the president said of the need to relax coronavirus restrictions and reopen the country. “But obviously we have to wait until it is gone. And it will be gone.”

  • Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, said results from a clinical trial of a potential COVID-19 treatment showed “quite good news.”

Data from an international study of remdesivir showed patients treated with the drug recovered 31 percent faster than patients given a placebo, Fauci told reporters

  • The New York Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration will likely grant an emergency use authorization for remdesivir, allowing doctors to use the drug to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients, despite it not being formally approved to treat the disease.
  • President Trump said he plans to resume traveling next week with a trip to Arizona. 

“I think I’m going to Arizona next week, and we look forward to that,” he told reporters during a roundtable with business leaders.

“And I’m going to, I hope, Ohio very soon,” he continued. “And we’re going to start to move around, and hopefully in the not too distant future we’ll have some massive rallies and people will be sitting next to each other.”

UPDATE: Trump will visit a Honeywell facility May 5 to highlight critical medical equipment production and the addition of 500 manufacturing jobs in Arizona.

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that now is “not the time” to let otherwise “serious concerns” about the rising national debt limit the federal government’s efforts to cushion the economic blow of the coronavirus pandemic.

Powell urged lawmakers to unleash the “great fiscal power” of the U.S. to defeat COVID-19 and repair the economic devastation it has caused across the country.

  • White House senior adviser Jared Kushner expressed optimism that much of the country could be “back to normal” by June as several states prepare to lift restrictions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“I think what you’ll see in May as the states are reopening now is May will be a transition month, you’ll see a lot of states starting to phase in the different reopening based on the safety guidelines that President Trump outlined on April 19,” Kushner said on “Fox & Friends.”

“I think you’ll see by June that a lot of the country should be back to normal, and the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again,” the president’s son-in-law continued.

  • Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, reportedly said that a second wave of the coronavirus is “inevitable” later this year.

“If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well,” Fauci told CNN in an interview. “If we don’t do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.”

  • The Small Business Administration briefly closed applications for its popular emergency coronavirus loan program to all but some of the smallest U.S. lenders, infuriating a number of bank industry advocates.

The SBA limited access for eight hours, allowing only banks, credit unions and community financial institutions with $1 billion or less in assets to apply through the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • The National Institutes of Health announced a contest aimed at finding new technologies to expand coronavirus testing capacity, with the goal of deploying millions of tests per week by the end of summer. 

Officials likened the program to the television show “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of judges who can choose to invest in them. 

The NIH program will have $500 million for funding, using money Congress provided in the most recent response package, that will be awarded to promising testing ideas.

  • The Trump administration is pushing agencies to speed up the vaccine development process in the hopes of quickly coming up with an effective way to guard against the coronavirus, two people familiar with the effort confirmed Wednesday.

The push, dubbed “Operation Warp Speed,” involves the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration, among other government agencies.

  • White House insiders describe President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner as a “de facto president” who has played a key role in the administration’s response to coronavirus, according to a Vanity Fair report.

In the article, titled “Inside Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s Two Months of Magical Thinking,” sources described Kushner as the second most powerful person in the West Wing when COVID-19 began to spread across the globe.

“Jared is running everything. He’s the de facto president of the United States,” a former White House official said.

  • The White House has ordered intelligence officials to look into whether the World Health Organization and the Chinese government withheld information about the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, according to a report by NBC News.
  • Work on the new Air Force One has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, the maker of the presidential aircraft revealed Wednesday while saying the program remains on schedule.
  • President Donald Trump said the federal government’s coronavirus social distancing guidelines will be “fading out” when they expire Thursday, counting on states taking charge as they pivot to reopening .

The administration says the cautionary guidance issued 45 days ago has been incorporated into recommendations given to the states on how they can begin gradually easing restrictions and reopening their economies.

  • A reporter asked the president, “ Are you saying you’re confident you can surpass 5 million tests per day?” Trump responded in the affirmative:

“Well, we’re going to be there very soon. If you look at the numbers, it could be that we’re getting very close. I mean, I don’t have the exact numbers. We would have had them if you asked me the same question a little while ago, because people with the statistics were there. We’re going to be there very soon.”

Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health, who runs the government’s testing response, told Time, “There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day.”

  • President Trump said on March 6 that anyone who wanted a coronavirus test could get one, it was immediately questionable. 

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, illustrated again how far off Trump’s March 6 claim was. Fauci was asked on CNN when everyone who needs a test will be able to get one.

“Hopefully, we should see that as we get towards the end of May, the beginning of June,” Fauci said. “That’s what I’m being told by the people who are responsible for the testing. I take them for their word.”

Other Administration News

  • President Trump mocked Rep. Justin Amash after the Republican-turned-Independent congressman launched an exploratory committee for a third-party presidential bid, saying he would make a “wonderful candidate.”

“No, I think Amash would make a wonderful candidate, especially since he is way behind in his district and has no chance of maintaining his Congressional seat,” Trump tweeted.

  • Joe Grogan, head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, intends to leave his position at the end of May.
  • President Trump lashed out at his campaign manager during a meeting on Friday over poll numbers that showed him trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, according to multiple reports on Wednesday. 

Trump shouted through the phone at campaign manager Brad Parscale while the president was huddled with advisers during a meeting last week, three people familiar with the matter told CNN. The New York Times later reported on the same exchange, citing people familiar with the situation. 

Trump berated Parscale over the poll numbers and even threatened to sue him at one point, CNN reported, noting that it’s not clear how serious the president’s threat was.

  • The publication of former White House National Security adviser John Bolton’s memoir has been further delayed while the National Security Council (NSC) reviews its contents.

The book, “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” will be delayed through June 23. 

  • Senate Republicans are eyeing holding a confirmation hearing next week for a controversial circuit court pick, setting off alarm bells among Democrats. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and GOP senators are discussing scheduling a hearing on May 6 for District Judge Justin Walker’s nomination to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court, a Senate aide confirmed to The Hill.

  • The Navy widened its investigation into whether the former captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt should be reinstated following a top military adviser’s suggestion, an official told The Hill in a statement.
  • Two separate coalitions of environmental groups sued the Trump administration, challenging a rollback of protections for the nation’s waterways.

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in January limits federal protections for smaller bodies of water, a move critics say risks contamination of larger ones used for drinking water.

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

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