The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The death toll from COVID-19 reached half a million people on Sunday.
  • Vice President Mike Pence said new outbreaks of the coronavirus may be arising because younger Americans aren’t abiding by federal guidance.

Pence said people “should wear masks whenever social distancing is not possible” and “wherever it is indicated by state or local authorities.”

  • A choir of more than 100 people performed without masks at an event in Texas at the First Baptist Church on Sunday that featured a speech by Vice President Mike Pence.

Nearly 2,200 people attended the “Celebrate Freedom Rally,” according to rally organizers. The venue capacity for the indoor event was close to 3,000 attendees, organizers say. Face masks at the event were “strongly encouraged,” with signs posted around the venue. According to reports, at least half of the crowd was wearing a face covering. 

Throughout the service, the members of the choir sang at full volume, behind an orchestra. Between songs, the choir members put their masks back on when they sat down.

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday a nationwide mandate to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus is “definitely long overdue.”

The speaker called on President Trump to “be an example” to the U.S. and wear a face covering, saying “real men wear masks.”

  • Vice President Pence said the federal government would extend support for coronavirus testing in Texas as long as necessary amid a dangerous surge in new cases. U.S. health officials had originally moved to end supporting sites at the end of the month..
  • Florida Gov. DeSantis says his state’s rise in coronavirus cases is being “driven by a big increase over the last three weeks in individuals testing positive throughout the state of Florida in younger age groups.”
  • California Governor. Gavin Newsom ordered bars in several counties to close due to the spread of COVID-19, including Los Angeles County.

Newsom tweeted the order around Noon on Sunday, which also affects Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, and Tulare counties.

The governor also recommended bars close in Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Ventura counties.

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned Sunday that “the window is closing” to take action to curb the spread of the coronavirus as cases across the southern United States continue “surging.”

In an interview with “Meet the Press,” Azar said that the country has “more tools than we had months ago” to fight the virus and the disease it causes, including new treatments and more personal protective equipment. But he stressed that America is facing a “very serious situation.”

  • A CBS News poll shows record numbers saying efforts against the outbreak are going badly (including new highs saying efforts are going very badly); President Trump receives his lowest marks for handling the pandemic since it began; and the outlook for the summer is grim. Twice as many expect the outbreak to worsen, rather than improve.

In addition to coronavirus concerns, overall, views of how things are generally going in the country are decidedly negative. Seventy-six percent of Americans say things are going badly compared to 56% who felt that way in December 2019.

  • Allegheny County, PA officials say they are banning on-site consumption of alcohol following a recent surge of new Coronavirus cases.

“For the first time since COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the state, Allegheny County led the state in the number of new COVID-19 cases,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We’re going the wrong direction.”

  • The United Kingdom reported a weekly total of 6,820 coronavirus infections, that’s a decrease of 19.2% over last week and 80.9% since the week of April 19th.
  • Brazil tallied 38,693 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours and 1,109 additional deaths. The number of COVID19 infections stands at 1,313,667 and the death toll at 57,070 as of Saturday night, with no sign of policy changes by the Bolsonaro government.
  • The University of Tennessee will require students to have both flu and, when available,  COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday New York State’s lowest death toll and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Saturday, there were five deaths and 869 hospitalizations in New York State.

Of the 61,906 tests conducted in New York State Saturday, 616, or 0.99 percent, were positive.

  • Oklahoma (478), South Carolina (1,384), Louisiana (1,454),  North Carolina (1,576), Georgia (2,225), and Arizona (3,857) all set records for new coronavirus cases.

Protest/Race Relations News

  • Two street murals, one reading, “All Black Lives Matter” and the other “Abolish White Supremacy” were painted on two streets in Newark, NJ by artists with the support of the city.
  • The Mississippi state legislature — both the House and Senate — passed a bill on Sunday to change the state’s flag in a historic step toward removing the flag’s Confederate battle emblem.

The bill will now go to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who has said he would sign legislation that state lawmakers send him to remove the Confederate insignia. The legislation cleared the state House in a 91-23 vote and the state Senate with a 37-14 vote

  • New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Tweeted: “Today, Mississippi lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate symbol from its state flag.

We replaced the MS flag with the American flag at Liberty State Park last year due to its hateful imagery. We look forward to raising a new MS flag soon.”

Administration News

  • United States intelligence officers and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors as early as January to a Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Interrogations of captured militants and criminals played a central role in making the intelligence community confident in its assessment that the Russians had offered and paid bounties in 2019, another official has said.

Officials briefed on the matter said the assessment had been treated as a closely held secret but that the administration expanded briefings about it over the last week — including sharing information about it with the British government, whose forces were among those said to have been targeted.

In addition to saying he was never “briefed or told” about the intelligence report, Mr. Trump also cast doubt on the assessment’s credibility. He described the intelligence report as being about “so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians.” The report described bounties paid to Taliban militants by Russian military intelligence officers, not direct attacks. Mr. Trump also suggested that the developments could be a “hoax” and questioned whether The Times’s sources existed.

  • Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican, said in a Twitter message on Sunday: “If reporting about Russian bounties on U.S. forces is true, the White House must explain: 1. Why weren’t the president or vice president briefed? Was the info in the [Presidential Daily Briefing]? 2. Who did know and when? 3. What has been done in response to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable?”
  • Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed. U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered a total 26 deaths from 2018-2019.

  • British security officials have confirmed to Sky News that the reports about the Russian bounty plot are true.
  • The president Tweeted late Sunday night: “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP . Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!

Presidential Campaign

  • 5% of Americans say they feel things in America today, generally speaking, are going “very well” according to a new CBS poll.
  • Following pressure to disclose the number of minorities on their staffs, the campaigns for former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump released diversity statistics.

In a summary of staff data obtained by NBC News, the Biden campaign disclosed that 35 percent of the full-time staff and 36 percent of senior advisors are people of color.

After the Biden campaign revealed its numbers, the Trump campaign followed, announcing that 25 percent of its senior staff are people of color but declining to provide information for all full-time staff.

  • Fox News Senior Correspondent Charles Gasparino Tweeted: “BREAKING— (thread)GOP operatives are for the first time raising the possibility that @realDonaldTrump  could drop out of the race if his poll numbers don’t rebound. Over the weekend I spoke to a sample of major players; one described Trumps current psyche as “fragile.”

“I’m not convinced yet; he’s got time and he’s running against an opponent who is literally hiding in his basement. Plus the public isn’t focusing yet on just how left wing @JoeBiden has become, so much so, he can bring himself to denounce rioting.

“That said the speculation indicates how tense  GOP operatives are about Trump losing and the party losing the senate and having their entire agenda abolished in a leftist wave election. Again lots of time and Trump has endured a horrible couple of months but that’s the snap [shot]”

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

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