The Past 24 Hours or So

Read time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • President Trump twice received intelligence briefings on the coronavirus in January, according to a White House official. The official tells NPR the briefings occurred on Jan. 23 and Jan. 28. “The president was told that the coronavirus was potentially going to ‘spread globally.”
  • U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said “enormous evidence” shows the novel coronavirus outbreak began in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, but didn’t provide any proof for his claims.

“I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan,” Pompeo said on ABC’s “This Week.” “These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.”

Pompeo stopped short of saying the virus was man-made, noting that he agreed with a report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that ruled out genetic modification or it having been man-made.

  • Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday that for many weeks the White House wasn’t helpful in aiding states amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s the governors that have risen to the challenge. I talk to my fellow governors, Republicans and Democrats, we’ve shared ideas with one another on how to keep people safe,” Pritzker said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” 

“We’ve gotten some guidance from the CDC that’s been helpful, but much of what came out of the White House for many weeks was not helpful,” he added.

  • White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx said it was “devastatingly worrisome” that those protesting at state Capitols against stay-at-home orders did not wear masks or practice social distancing, warning that they could unknowingly transmit the novel coronavirus to at-risk relatives.

“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally because if they go home and they infect their grandmother or grandfather who has a comorbid condition and they have a serious or very unfortunate outcome they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives. So we need to protect each other at the same time as we’re voicing our discontent,” Birx said on “Fox News Sunday.”

  • Ashford Inc., a large hospitality conglomerate that received nearly $70 million from the Paycheck Protection Program included in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed in March, said Saturday that it would be returning the money.
  • President Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Sunday that there may be additional coronavirus stimulus legislation, but nothing has been decided yet. 

“There may well be additional legislation, there’s kind of a pause period right now,” Kudlow said on “CNN’s State of the Union.” 

Kudlow also said “let’s see” the effects of stimulus bills that have already been passed as some states gradually reopen economies. He suggested revisiting the possibility in “a couple of weeks.”

  • Over a dozen potential COVID-19 vaccines are currently under development that could be candidates for a Trump administration program to fast-track for widespread inoculation by January 2021, senior officials within the administration told NBC News.

The program, known as “Operation Warp Speed” whittled down 14 candidates from a pool of 93 potential vaccines several weeks ago.

  • President Trump said Sunday that his administration is confident the United States will have a vaccine for the novel coronavirus by the end of the year.

“We think we are going to have a vaccine by the end of this year,” Trump said during a virtual Fox News town hall Sunday evening.

  • President Trump has reportedly said he believes elite K-12 private schools should return federal funds distributed under an emergency small business loan program amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a White House official, Politico reported.

The comment from the White House official came after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tweeted Friday advising private schools “with significant endowments” to return funds received under the Paycheck Protection Program

  • U.S. officials believe China covered up the extent of the coronavirus outbreak — and how contagious the disease is — to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, intelligence documents show.

The analysis states that, while downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, China increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies. It attempted to cover up doing so by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,” the analysis states.

The report also says China held off informing the World Health Organization that the coronavirus “was a contagion” for much of January so it could order medical supplies from abroad — and that its imports of face masks and surgical gowns and gloves increased sharply.

  • Vice President Mike Pence signaled Sunday that he regretted not wearing a face covering during a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota last week.

“I didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask at the Mayo Clinic,” Pence said during a Fox News virtual town hall Sunday evening.

  • President Trump on Sunday said he won’t support another round of coronavirus stimulus legislation unless it includes a payroll tax cut, a measure that has muted support among lawmakers in Congress.
  • President Trump predicted the United States will lose between 75,000 to 100,000 people to the coronavirus, a marked increase from just a few weeks ago when he estimated 60,000 could die.

“We’re going to lose anywhere from 75-, 80- to 100,000 people,” Trump said. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this. This should’ve been stopped in China.”

  • President Donald Trump stated falsely on Sunday that Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden apologized for calling him xenophobic. “Biden has written a letter of apology.” … “He actually apologized (and said) I made the right move.”

NOTE: Trump has falsely claimed Biden has sent “a letter of apology” before. No such letter exists. 

  • On his emergency order to reopen meat plants after many closed because workers were sickened by COVID-19. “I think it’s all working out. … Those people are tending to get better quickly.”

NOTE: 4,900 workers at meat and poultry processing facilities have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, 20 of whom have died. There is no evidence that workforces at meat plants are rapidly returning to health.

Other Administration News 

  • President Trump shared that he is “glad” to see North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “back” and “well” after Kim appeared in public for the first time in 20 days following international speculation over his health.

“I, for one, am glad to see he is back, and well!” Trump tweeted, sharing photos of Kim cutting tape to mark the completion of a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, North Korea, an area north of Pyongyang.

  • President Trump is not happy with FBI director Christopher Wray and would love to replace him, according to three sources who’ve discussed the matter with the president. But Trump has been deferring to Attorney General Bill Barr and is unlikely to remove Wray before the election, these sources said. 

Trump was especially angered by what he views as Wray’s reluctance to publicly criticize actions taken by Comey and by Wray’s relatively muted reaction to the FBI’s misconduct in seeking the surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

Recent revelations in the case of Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, have heightened discontent with Wray in Trump’s inner circle. Figures close to Trump tell him that Wray cannot be trusted to root out what they view as “corruption” at the highest levels of the FBI.

  • The U.S. military in Afghanistan warned the Taliban against continuing violence and to “return to the political path,” saying further attacks would lead to “responses.”

“If the violence cannot be reduced then yes, there will be responses,” US Forces-Afghanistan spokesperson Colonel Sonny Leggettwrote in a letter to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid that he posted a copy of to Twitter.

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s