The Past 24 Hours or So

Read TIme: 5 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • As President Trump presses for states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of cases and deaths from the coronavirus over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double from the current level of about 1,750.

The projections, based on government modeling pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases now.

  • The Trump administration is escalating an effort to blame China for the novel coronavirus pandemic as global pressure grows on Beijing to cooperate with an investigation into the origins of the outbreak.

President Trump, who has endured consistent scrutiny for his own lagged response to the virus domestically, has accused China of covering up the outbreak and suggested that the virus wouldn’t have spread globally if Beijing had been more transparent to begin with.

  • Public health experts are pushing back on President Trump’s claim that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available by the end of the year.

The Trump administration is racing to get a vaccine to the market quickly with “Operation Warp Speed” and has started to whittle down candidates.

The project’s goal is to have 300 million vaccine doses available by January, an accelerated version of the administration’s previous projections of needing 12-18 months to get a vaccine ready for the public.

Drug industry experts say the new timeline is unrealistic. Many of the vaccine candidates are still in the early stages of development, and proving safety in humans is a time consuming task.

  • White House coronavirus task force members are prohibited from testifying before Congress this month under new guidance issued by the Trump administration Monday.

Task force members and key deputies have been instructed not to accept invitations to participate in congressional hearings in May, while other agencies responding to the pandemic are being advised to limit the number of hearings they attend.

  • The Treasury Department will borrow a record-breaking $3 trillion between April and June as it moves to dispense emergency relief for the coronavirus pandemic.

In a Monday statement, the Treasury said that it expected to borrow $2.99 trillion “in privately-held net marketable debt,” which would leave it with a $800 billion cash balance at the end of June.

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Navy’s second coronavirus outbreak at sea could have been picked up through a counter-narcotics operation.

“We’re not sure where she picked it up, it may have been through a counter-drug operation,” Esper said of the USS Kidd destroyer.

  • Commercial manufacturers will now be required to submit data to the Food and Drug Administration proving the accuracy of their antibody tests, a reversal of a previously controversial agency policy.

Under the new policy, manufacturers must apply for an emergency use authorization, with their validation data, within 10 business days from the date their products are available.

  • The U.S. government has not provided the World Health Organization with any data or information linking the coronavirus to a laboratory in China, senior WHO officials said Monday, just days after President Trump claimed to have seen such evidence.
  • The Department of Justice is siding with a Virginia church that filed a lawsuit against the state over Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order restricting in-person religious services to no more than 10 people amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Other Administration News 

  • A joint report from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security has reportedly warned officials to be on the lookout for Russian operatives secretly trying to make contact with U.S. candidates or campaigns in direct attempts to influence U.S. politics by masquerading as advisers in politics.
  • President Trump referred to the accidental death of an intern in former Rep. Joe Scarborough’s office to take a shot at the MSNBC “Morning Joe” host.

“Concast” should open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough. I know him and Crazy Mika well, used them beautifully in the last Election, dumped them nicely, and will state on the record that he is “nuts”. Besides, bad ratings! #OPENJOECOLDCASE” Trump Tweeted.

This is the latest example of Trump attacking Scarborough over the death of Lori Klausutis, the 28-year-old intern who died in 2001 in Scarborough’s office. The medical examiner ruled the death an accident, saying Klausutis had collapsed and hit her head on the side of a desk. She had an undiagnosed heart condition, according to the medical examiner, and the head trauma caused a fatal blood clot.

Scarborough responded to the president’s tweet on the air Monday morning, ripping him for dragging Klausutis’s family through the mud.

“You, once again, drag a family through this and make them relive it again, just like Seth Rich’s parents,” Scarborough said

  • A federal court on Friday vacated 287 oil and gas leases issued by the U.S. government that covered 145,063 acres of land in Montana, deciding that the Trump administration did not adequately consider risks to the environment and water supply. 

“The Court does not fault BLM for providing a faulty analysis of cumulative impacts or impacts to groundwater, it largely faults BLM for failing to provide any analysis,” said the decision.

  • Twenty-nine U.S. soldiers have been approved for Purple Hearts after suffering traumatic brain injuries from Iran’s January missile strike on an Iraqi military base, with the first six awarded Sunday and Monday, U.S. Central Command said.
  • President Trump appointed the U.S. ambassador to Belgium to serve as the acting ambassador to the European Union..

Ronald Gidwitz will take over the role left vacant by Gordon Sondland, who was fired in February after he testified in the House’s impeachment inquiry into the president.

  • The Trump campaign has not returned an illegal donation it received from a foreign national in 2019, records from the Federal Election Commission show. It is the campaign’s only known illegal foreign contribution.

Rabia Kazan, a Turkish writer and author living in the U.S. on a student visa, made a $2,800 campaign donation in exchange for access to a March 2019 event at Mar-a-Lago featuring the president. The contribution was first reported this February in BuzzFeed News.

But FEC records show that the campaign has not yet disgorged that money, as required by law.

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

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