The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reportedly condemned the White House’s delayed response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the agency’s plans to combat the spread of COVID-19 was crippled by the Trump administration prioritizing politics over science.

“We’ve been muzzled,” a current CDC official said. “What’s tough is that if we would have acted earlier on what we knew and recommended, we would have saved lives and money.”

  • The Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department are seeing a rising number of promotions of allegedly bogus treatments and cures for COVID-19, which they charge are in certain cases pushed directly by doctors and other licensed health care professionals.

The FTC and FDA this month sent a new batch of warning letters to companies and individuals it accused of making “unsubstantiated” claims about products and therapies to treat the coronavirus.

“There are no FDA-approved cures, tests, prevention mechanisms, vaccines,” FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips said in an interview with ABC News. “If someone is telling you that’s what they’re selling you, it’s not true.”

  • The World Health Organization reported the highest single-day increase of coronavirus cases worldwide, warning the gradual end of lockdowns in wealthier countries may be obscuring an increasing crisis in the developing world.

Over the last 24 hours, 106,000 new cases of the virus were recorded.

  • Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle in Ringgold, Ga., less than 20 miles away from Chattanooga, Tenn., and Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Houston have indefinitely suspended services after members and leaders tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after reopening.

The news of the canceled services comes as a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that large gatherings pose risk for coronavirus transmission.

  • President Trump’s physician prescribed hydroxychloroquine for him as a preventative measure against the coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed.
  • President Trump said he will stop taking hydroxychloroquine in the next couple of days amid criticism and skepticism about his announcement that he was taking the anti-malaria drug to guard against the coronavirus.
  • Health care workers faced shortages of face masks, hand sanitizer, medical gowns and other supplies needed to keep themselves safe from COVID-19 in early May, according to a new Washington Post-Ipsos poll released Wednesday.

Sixty-six percent of health care workers said their workplaces still face shortages of the respirator masks that are most effective at blocking airborne particles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledging the shortages, has directed health workers without respirators to use surgical masks instead, even though those are less protective against viruses. But, 44 percent of health workers cited shortages of surgical masks as well.

  • Vice President Pence will visit Atlanta on Friday to discuss Georgia’s aggressive plan to reopen its economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pence will meet with Gov. Brian Kemp and restaurant executives to dig into the state’s efforts and restaurants’ plans to begin offering dine-in options again.

Other Administration News 

  • President Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal funding for Michigan and Nevada over their pursuit of mass mail-in voting.

Trump Tweeted: “Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!..”

“State of Nevada “thinks” that they can send out illegal vote by mail ballots, creating a great Voter Fraud scenario for the State and the U.S. They can’t! If they do, “I think” I can hold up funds to the State. Sorry, but you must not cheat in elections. @RussVought45 @USTreasury”

NOTE: Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, said that all of those registered voters will be mailed applications for absentee ballots for the state’s elections in August and November — not the absentee ballots themselves.

Nevada already allows any voter to vote absentee by mail. The state has switched to all mail in voting, but only for the upcoming primary because of coronavirus.

  • In another Tweet sent later in the day, Trump: “Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

In response, Michigan Secretary of State replied: “Hi again. Still wrong. Every Michigan registered voter has a right to vote by mail. I have the authority & responsibility to make sure that they know how to exercise this right – just like my GOP colleagues are doing in GA, IA, NE and WV. Also, again, my name is Jocelyn Benson.”

  • Leading House Democrats plan to open an investigation into the replacement of the Transportation Department’s acting inspector general, concerned that the move was tied to an ongoing investigation of Elaine Chao’s dealings with Kentucky.
  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request from House Democrats for immediate access to redacted grand jury materials from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

The justices instead granted the Trump administration’s request to continue shielding the secret grand jury transcripts and exhibits, further postponing a lower court’s disclosure order.

The order also gave the Justice Department until June 1 to file a formal appeal of the March ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the administration must hand over the materials the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee initially requested as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network that prayer played an important role in the 2016 election. “I think prayer made a difference in this election,” McEnany said.
  • President Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen is set to be released early from prison and moved to home confinement later this week amid fears over the spread of the coronavirus behind bars, CNN reports.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler defended the agency’s rollback of Obama-era regulations from criticism from Democratic senators at a Wednesday hearing. Democrats seized on a number of recent regulations that would roll back air protections, including seven that have been proposed or finalized during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a combative press conference Wednesday that saw him fending off questions about his call to fire the State Department’s internal watchdog while slamming Democrats criticizing the move as political retaliation.

Pompeo defended President Trump’s authority in firing State Department Inspector General Steve Linick late Friday, and doubled down in defending his recommendation that the watchdog be ousted, saying it should have been done “some time ago.”

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disregarded the advice of high-level officials at the State Department, Pentagon and within the intelligence community in invoking an emergency waiver last year to circumvent congressional review of billions of dollars in arms sales to the U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf region, according to two former administration officials and three congressional sources.

That decision was under investigation by a government watchdog who was fired last week at Pompeo’s urging, and it has fueled renewed accusations from lawmakers that the Trump administration bucked the will of Congress and even violated the law when it fast-tracked the weapons sales.

  • President Trump officially named long-time White House official and conservative lawyer Brooke Rollins as the acting director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Rollins will oversee Trump’s domestic agenda in the influential role. She previously oversaw the White House Office of American Innovation. Rollins will be Trump’s fourth domestic policy chief.

  • President Trump and the First Lady will recognize Memorial Day at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, the White House confirmed.
  • The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that has been docked in Guam since March 27 due to a coronavirus outbreak on board is now back at sea, the service announced late Wednesday.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt left Naval Base Guam and entered the Philippine Sea on May 21 “to conduct carrier qualification flights,” basic drills that will allow the crew to ramp up use of the carrier after 55 days away from sea.

  • Trump administration officials are preparing plans to extend the federal deployment of more than 40,000 National Guard members performing coronavirus relief work across the country, after scores of lawmakers moved to pressure President Donald Trump to keep the Guards in place past June.

An extension would also help thousands of Guard members qualify for federal retirement and education benefits for which they would otherwise fall only one day short of obtaining.

White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley did not confirm or deny whether Trump planned to authorize an extension past the current cutoff date of June 24, saying that “We will continue monitoring the impact of coronavirus in the states and will work to ensure they are equipped to respond.”

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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