The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • President Trump claimed that he briefly put on a mask during a visit to Honeywell factory in Phoenix, but that the press didn’t see him. His comment comes as he faces criticism for touring the mask factory without wearing a mask.

“I had a mask on for a period of time,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked why he didn’t wear a face covering during Tuesday’s visit to the facility, which produces respirator masks. “I can’t help it if you didn’t see me. I had a mask on, but I didn’t need it.”

  • Denison, Iowa Mayor Pam Soseman told the Times Herald that her requests for targeted testing at the town’s two meat-processing facilities and expanded testing of its residents have been denied.

“I have requested drive-through testing, and I’m being told we are not a ‘hot spot,'” Soseman said today. “I have asked that we be proactive as opposed to reactive. I guess we will just have to wait and react. This is so sad.”

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Wednesday that seemingly conflicting assessments from senior Trump administration officials regarding the origins of the novel coronavirus were in fact “entirely consistent” — repeatedly clashing with reporters over the unsubstantiated theory that the disease developed out of a research laboratory in Wuhan, China.
  • The Defense Department has given 3M a $126 million contract to boost production of N95 respirator masks in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Under the contract, 3M will speed up the existing delivery schedule “and increase N95 respirator production by at least 312 million annually within the next twelve months,” DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said in a statement.

  • A Canadian-born doctor who received her education in the U.S. and who is treating coronavirus patients at Columbia University Medical Center says she was denied permanent status as part of President Trump’s crackdown on immigration amid the pandemic: “It’s heart-wrenching. I feel helpless… “I’m putting my life on the line every day to do this … I’m honestly beside myself. It’s like a slap in the face.”
  • President Trump said he backed off plans to dissolve the White House coronavirus task force after public outcry, saying he didn’t realize how “popular” the group of medical experts and government leaders was.

“I thought we could wind it down sooner,” Trump told reporters during an Oval Office event recognizing National Nurses Day. “But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday when I started talking about winding down. … It is appreciated by the public.”

  • President Trump blasted a former top federal scientist who filed a whistleblower complaint against his administration, likening him to a “disgruntled employee.”

When asked by a reporter in the Oval Office about Rick Bright, the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Trump said he’d only just learned about him earlier in the day.

“I never met Dr. Bright. I don’t know who he is. I didn’t hear good things about him. I did not hear good things about him at all,” Trump said. “And to me he seems like a disgruntled employee that’s trying to help the Democrats win an election.”

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the decision to prevent Anthony Fauci from appearing before a House panel.

Questioned about the decision, McEnany said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey did not provide a specific subject matter or purpose for the hearing in correspondence with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“The House, however, and specifically Chairwoman Nita Lowey’s committee, did not act in good faith,” McEnany asserted. “Those details were never received, and instead we got a press release. So that’s what we call a publicity stunt.”

  • Asked by a reporter if they were satisfied with the level of supplies, Sophia Thomas, a New Orleans-based nurse and president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, replied, “I think it’s sporadic. As I talk to my colleagues around the country, certainly there are pockets of areas where PPE is not ideal but this is an unprecedented time,” Thomas said, noting that she had been wearing the same N95 respirator for a few weeks.

“PPE has been sporadic but it’s been manageable,” Thomas continued. “And we do what we have to do. We’re nurses and we learn to adapt and do whatever the best thing that we can do for our patients to get the job done and get the care provided.”

Trump pushed back on the idea that supplies were sporadic across the country. “Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people,” the president said. “Because I have heard the opposite. I have heard that they are loaded up with gowns now,” Trump said. “Initially, we had nothing. We had empty cupboards. We had empty shelves. We had nothing because it wasn’t put there by the last administration.”

  • Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday said U.S. meatpacking plants will fully reopen in the next seven to 10 days after coronavirus outbreaks sparked closures and led to shortages at grocery stores and fast food chains.

“I’d say probably a week to 10 days where it’s fully back up,” Perdue said.

  • President Trump told reporters that the coronavirus pandemic is worse “than Pearl Harbor” and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“We went through the worst attack we’ve ever had in our country. This is really the worst attack we’ve ever had. This is worse than Pearl Harbor. This is worse than the World Trade Center. There’s never been an attack like this.”

  • Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “There were supposed to be 2.2 million deaths & we’re at a point where we are far lower than that, and it’s thanks to the great work of the Task Force & the leadership of President Trump.”

NOTE: She’s comparing what’s happening to a scenario where the government did nothing at all.

  • An Associated Press analysis shows that though Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Wyoming are not epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic, these four states scored big when Congress pumped out direct federal aid, while the two hardest-hit states, New York and New Jersey, got comparatively little given the vast numbers of cases and deaths they have seen.

Their haul ranged from $2 million per positive test in Hawaii to nearly $3.4 million per test in Alaska. In Wyoming, with less than 600 positive cases, the $1.25 billion it received equates to 80 percent of its annual general state budget.

By comparison, New York and New Jersey received about $24,000 and $27,000, respectively, for each positive coronavirus test.

  • The Transportation Security Administration ignored guidance from the Department of Homeland Security and internal pushback from two agency officials when it stockpiled more than 1.3 million N95 respirator masks instead of donating them to hospitals, internal records and interviews show.

Other Administration News 

  • President Trump is pushing for the border wall to be painted black, which could up the price of the project by $500 million, according to contracts obtained by the Washington Post.

Military and border officials have tried to dissuade the president from the design preference because of the initial cost as well as upkeep, according to the Post. Trump has reportedly insisted that the design would deter unauthorized immigrants from climbing it.

  • President Trump has vetoed a resolution aimed at constraining his ability to take military action against Iran.

Trump said he vetoed the Iran war powers resolution that “purported to direct me to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces in hostilities against Iran.”

“This was a very insulting resolution, introduced by Democrats as part of a strategy to win an election on November 3 by dividing the Republican Party,” Trump added. “The few Republicans who voted for it played right into their hands.”

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued final rules on how all schools will address allegations of sexual misconduct, securing new protections for students and faculty accused of misconduct.

The new rules modify Title IX, a 1972 law prohibiting “discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance,” narrowing the definition of sexual harassment and requiring schools to challenge evidence and cross-examine students via a live hearing, among other things detailed in the more than 2,000-page rule.  

The new regulations, which take effect in August, will only find schools in violation of Title IX if they are determined to be “deliberately indifferent” to accusations of sexual assault that occurred in their programs and activities.

  • A North Carolina businessman, Louis DeJoy, who is currently overseeing fundraising for this year’s Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and major donor to President Trump and the Republican National Committee has been named postmaster general amid calls by the president for the service to overhaul its policy on package rates.

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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