The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that it is combining the results from viral and antibody COVID-19 tests when reporting the country’s testing totals, despite marked differences between the tests.

Combining the tests inhibits the agency’s ability to discern the country’s actual testing capacity.

Viral tests are used to determine whether or not a person is currently infected with the disease.

Antibody tests allow doctors to see if someone has previously been exposed to the virus.

Several states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and Florida, have also been combining the results of the two tests.

The combining of the tests could lead to the skewing of the overall positivity rate of the test, a measurement that is one of the benchmarks used in the reopening guidelines released by the White House

  • Coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing, a retrospective review published in The Lancet shows.

The medical journal’s review consisted of 96,000 hospitalized patients diagnosed with the coronavirus in six continents, the largest analysis of medical records on the drug. 

Those given the drug alone had a 34% increased risk of dying and a 137% increased risk of heart arrhythmias.

Those who took the drug paired with an antibiotic had a 45% increased risk of death and a 411% risk of heart arrhythmias. This combination is one President Trump has been encouraging.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services will distribute  nearly $5 billion to help nursing homes respond to COVID-19. The funding can be used to increase testing capacity, purchase protective equipment for staff, hire more workers and cover other pandemic-related expenses.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday said that he would support extending National Guard deployments if it’s needed to continue fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

About 45,000 National Guardsmen are deployed across the country to help combat the pandemic, but that mission is set to end on June 24 — just one day before the troops would qualify for federal benefits like reduced tuition and retirement.

“If they have a valid mission assignment that’s verified by FEMA, my view is we should extend those tours of duty,” Esper said.

  • President Trump on Friday ordered governors to allow houses of worship to open immediately, declaring them “essential” to American life during the coronavirus pandemic: “If they don’t do it I will override the governors. America, we need more prayer, not less.”
  • President Trump ordered governors to allow houses of worship to open immediately, declaring them “essential” to American life during COVID-19. 

“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, this weekend,” Trump said during brief remarks at the White House that his press shop had touted as a briefing.

Trump took no questions, however, and left immediately after his brief statement.

“If they don’t do it I will override the governors. America, we need more prayer, not less,” he said.

NOTE: The president doesn’t have the authority to override any governor’s decisions.

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested reporters want to see houses of worship remain closed as she declined to offer specifics on what authority President Trump has to override governors to reopen those facilities.

During a short but contentious briefing with reporters she clashed with reporters on the lack of specifics regarding Trump’s announcement on houses of worship, and later scolded them for not asking about allegations involving former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s case.

When pressed repeatedly on what power Trump had to compel churches to reopen, McEnany dismissed it as a “hypothetical.”

  • “The president will strongly encourage every governor to allow their churches to reopen, and boy it’s interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed,” she said.
  • A former White House aide received a $3 million contract from the federal government to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona, some of which now appear to be faulty.

Zach Fuentes, President Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, won the contract just eleven days after he founded a company to sell personal protective equipment.

Other Administration News 

  • President Trump lashed out at Fox News after the network released a poll that showed him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 8 points nationally.

The president, who consistently attempts to cast doubt on any poll that shows him trailing, tweeted that Fox News “should fire their Fake Pollster.”

“Hope Roger A is looking down and watching what has happened to this once beautiful creation!” Trump tweeted, a reference to the late Fox News executive Roger Ailes, who resigned from the network in 2016 following sexual misconduct allegations.

  • A coal company has challenged an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power plant pollution regulation in court after the agency recently finalized changes to the standards that weaken the standards’ legal underpinnings. 

Westmoreland Mining Holdings sued the EPA in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Friday over its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which regulates the emission of mercury and other toxins emitted from power plants. 

The Trump administration last month issued a final rule concerning the standards. The final rule did not change the Obama-era standards but did alter the cost-benefit analysis that justifies them.

  • FBI Director Christopher Wray ordered an internal review into the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn amid rising GOP pressure on the FBI chief to examine the circumstances of the case.
  • Members of the Trump administration have explored conducting the first U.S. nuclear test since 1992 in a move that would mark a reversal from a decades-long freeze on such tests.

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

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