The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 8 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • President Trump’s daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump wore a face mask while visiting a produce distributor in Maryland on Friday.

She was photographed wearing a black face covering adorned with an American flag pin while she toured Coastal Sunbelt Produce, a food service distributor located in Laurel, MD.

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued guidance to the country’s school districts on how they should allocate funds received from Congress’s $2 trillion CARES Act, telling the districts that they should increase the amount of money given to private schools.

The New York Times, which published a story about the DeVos guidance on Friday, reported that language included in House Democrats’ latest coronavirus stimulus bill would hamstring DeVos’s ability to allocate the additional $58 billion in the proposal for K-12 schools to private institutions.

  • The coronavirus pandemic is spreading out from urban centers and increasingly infecting residents in small rural counties, even as some of those areas begin to loosen lockdown requirements aimed at stopping its spread.

A new analysis shows nearly three-quarters of Americans live in counties where the virus is now spreading widely. Another 200 counties have seen significant growth in infection trends in the last week, making them high-prevalence counties

  • More Americans are leaving their homes than in recent weeks, becoming less likely to practice social distancing regardless of stay-at-home orders, according to a new Gallup poll released Friday.

Fifty-eight percent of U.S. adults surveyed reported that they were either completely (17 percent) or mostly (41 percent) isolating themselves — a 17-point drop from a high of 75 percent during the week ending on April 5.

  • President Donald Trump said on Friday that he wants the U.S. to reopen regardless of whether there’s a vaccine for COVID-19 available because, in his mind, the pandemic will go away on its own.

“Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back, and we’re starting the process,” Trump said during a press briefing on a project to rapidly develop a COVID-19 vaccine. “In many cases, they don’t have vaccines, and a virus or a flu comes and you fight through it.”

Trump told reporters. “And if we don’t, we are going to be like so many other cases where you had a problem come in, it will go away at some point. It will go away. It may flare up, and it may not flare up. We’ll have to see what happens.”

  • President Donald Trump, speaking with New Jersey 101.5’s Bill Spadea on Friday morning, said New Jersey has a “good governor” who is “working hard” on the novel coronavirus crisis.
  • President Donald Trump unveiled a crash effort on Friday aimed at developing a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year but said the country would return to normal with or without one.
  • The formal announcement of “Operation Warp Speed” came as researchers around the world scramble to develop a vaccine for the virus that has killed more than 300,000 people globally.

“We think we are going to have a vaccine in the pretty near future, and if we do, we are going to really be a big step ahead and if we don’t, we are going to be like so many other cases where you had a problem come in, it’ll go away at some point, it’ll go away,” Trump said.

  • President Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that his administration is “looking at” making coronavirus vaccines free to the public, though his health chief has suggested its out of their control.

“We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest,” Azar said during a House budget hearing. “Price controls won’t get us there.”

  •  When blaring truck horns intruded on President Donald Trump’s Friday speech in the White House Rose Garden about the search for a coronavirus vaccine, Trump claimed that this was the sound of a pro-Trump protest.

“And you hear that outside, that beautiful sound — those are truckers that are with us all the way. They are protesting in favor of President Trump, as opposed to against,” Trump said. “There’s hundreds of trucks out there, and that’s the sign of love. Not the sign of your typical protest. So I want to thank our great truckers. They like me and I like them.”

Trump said, “Those are friendly truckers. They’re on our side. It’s almost a celebration, in a way.”

NOTE: The truckers who have lined streets near the White House since May 1 are indeed protesters, not people holding any kind of celebration and they are protesting a variety of issues affecting their jobs, not protesting in favor of Trump. In fact, one of their complaints is about what they say is lax federal enforcement of a regulation requiring more transparency from freight brokers.

  • The FDA, citing safety concerns, has halted a coronavirus testing program by Bill Gates, which sought to send test kits to the homes of people both healthy and sick to try to bring the country to the level of testing officials say is necessary before states can begin safely reopening. The program, which had already gone through thousands of tests, found dozens of cases that had been previously undiagnosed.

Other Administration News 

  • After President Trump blasted him in a series of messages on Twitter, promoting the term “Obamagate” and demanding that Senate Republicans call on the former president to testify on Capitol Hill, former President Obama had a simple message for the public.

Obama sent a one-word Tweet: “Vote” The former president shared similar messages on Facebook and Instagram, calling on supporters to “vote.”

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday rebuffed President Trump’s demand that he call former President Obama to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of oversight on the origins of the Russia investigation.

“I think it would be a bad precedent to compel a former president to come before the Congress. That would open up a can of worms, and for a variety of reasons, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill.

  • A federal appeals court on Friday denied a group of death row inmates’ request to rehear their challenge to the Trump administration’s plan to resume federal death sentences under a new execution protocol.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said it would not revisit the case after a three-judge panel last month upheld the Department of Justice’s new nationwide federal execution regulations.

  • The Navy has granted the military’s first waiver to allow a transgender service member to continue serving openly since the Trump administration banned most transgender military service.

“The acting secretary of the Navy has approved a specific request for exemption related to military service by transgender persons and persons with gender dysphoria,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Brittany Stephens said in a statement.

  • The Trump administration on Friday moved to block global chip supplies to blacklisted telecoms equipment giant Huawei Technologies, spurring fears of Chinese retaliation and hammering shares of U.S. producers of chipmaking equipment.

A new rule strengthens U.S. authority to require licenses for sales to Huawei of semiconductors made abroad with U.S. technology, vastly expanding its reach to halt exports to the world’s No. 2 smartphone maker.

  • A gang of cybercriminals claimed in a post to the dark web on Friday that it had obtained documents on President Trump, and is threatening to release them and other hacked documents unless it receives a $42 million ransom.

The post reads: “There’s an election race going on, and we found a ton of dirty laundry… And to you voters, we can let you know that after such a publication, you certainly don’t want to see him as president.”

  • The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, ripped President Trump’s “inconsistent and incoherent national response” to the coronavirus pandemic, saying in an unsigned editorial that voters should ensure he does not get a second term. 

The editorial was focused on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the need to revive it from damage during the Trump administration.

“Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics,” wrote the peer-reviewed journal founded in 1823.

  • State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was ousted Friday evening, becoming the latest government watchdog to be removed from his post. 

Linick, who was appointed to the role in 2013 by then-President Obama, was removed. Ambassador Stephen Akard, a former career Foreign Service officer, will replace Linick.

  • President Trump teased what he called a new weapon that could attack at such a high speed it would overwhelm an enemy’s defenses. “We have, I call it the ‘super-duper missile.’ And I heard the other night [it’s] 17 times faster than what they have right now,” Trump said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what missile the president was describing, but the U.S. and other advanced powers are known to be developing new hypersonic weapons, designed to race at many times the speed of sound.

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

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