The Past 24 Hours or So

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update

  • The U.S. reported 30,983 new cases and 1,089 additional deaths. 
  • The US greatly undercounted coronavirus cases at the beginning of the pandemic, missing 90% of them – mostly because of a lack of testing, a new study finds.
  • The Surgeon General of the United States promises he will not let the cost of a potential Covid-19 vaccine get in the way of getting people vaccinated. 

“As Surgeon General of the United States, I promise you, we will use every federal tool that we have to make sure that cost is not an obstacle for people receiving what will perhaps be the most important and highly anticipated vaccine of our lives,” Dr. Jerome Adams said.

  • For months, Americans have been told not to worry about the costs of coronavirus tests, which are crucial to stopping the pandemic’s spread. Congress passed laws requiring insurers to pay for tests, and the Trump administration created a program to cover the bills of the uninsured. Cities and states set up no-cost testing sites.

However, people have been hit with unexpected fees and denied claims related to tests as insurers have told these patients they could owe from a few dollars to thousands.

  • President Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed U.S. coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and “more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book “Rage.”

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward on February 7. Trump also admitted to Woodward he concealed critical details he knew about the coronavirus. Claiming to prevent panic, “I wanted to always play it down.”

Trump’s admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was “going to disappear” and “all work out fine.”

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows revealed in a new interview that he would not have recommended that legendary reporter Bob Woodward gain as much access to President Trump in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic had the former lawmaker been in his chief of staff role at the time.
  • “It was all about making sure the stock market didn’t come down, that [Trump’s] wealthy friends didn’t lose any money,” Democratic candidate Joe Biden said of Trump downplaying the threat of the coronavirus pandemic despite knowing it would be deadly. “Think about it. Think about what he did not do – it’s almost criminal.”
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), whose father died of the novel coronavirus, blasted President Trump for telling Woodward that he intended to “play [the virus] down.”

“All I can think about is my father and the nearly 200,000 other people who lost their lives to COVID-19 as a result of this president’s gross negligence and lies,” Omar tweeted. “Trump had the power to save lives and went out of his way not to.”

  • Legendary journalist Carl Bernstein argued President Trump’s interviews with former colleague Bob Woodward are “the smoking gun of his negligence,” accusing Trump of committing “one of the great presidential felonies of all time.”

“We are listening to the president of the United States on tape deliberately undermining the national security of the United States, the health and well being of the people of the United States, and he’s doing this knowingly, in real time.”

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany vehemently denied that President Trump deliberately misled the public on the coronavirus
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said he doesn’t think President Trump was publicly distorting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fauci said Trump’s public press conferences in the early spring mostly echoed what members of the White House coronavirus task force were telling him in private.

During the interview, Fauci stressed that he was speaking about his own conversations and interactions with the president.

  • A Trump administration appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services is trying to prevent Dr. Fauci from speaking about the risks that coronavirus poses to children.

Emails obtained by POLITICO show Paul Alexander — a senior adviser to Michael Caputo, HHS’s assistant secretary for public affairs — instructing press officers and others at the National Institutes of Health about what Fauci should say during media interviews.

The emails add to evidence that the White House, and Trump appointees within HHS, are pushing health agencies to promote a political message instead of a scientific one.

  • A new research paper proposes that face coverings have not only proven to be a key preventative measure for slowing the transmission of COVID-19 as the world waits for a safe and effective vaccine, but that mask-wearing could also significantly reduce the severity of the disease in those who become infected and ensure a greater number of infections are asymptomatic. 

The theory is that masks can block a significant number of coronavirus droplets, lowering the dose of virus a person inhales and reducing the chances the person will experience serious illness.

  • Dr. Fauci said the lack of masks at President Trump’s campaign rallies during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is frustrating to him: “We want to set an example.”
  • Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) is urging people to “unmask” and fight back against restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, arguing the policies are “oppressive” and have been worse than the disease itself.

“Government bureaucrats have taken enough freedoms away from us. No more,” he wrote in a tweet calling for an end to masks.

  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is supporting the tens of thousands of attendees of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last month, arguing they “exercised personal freedom” to attend and calling a new study tying the rally to $12 billion in public health costs and hundreds of COVID-19 cases “fiction” and an “attack” on bikers.
  • Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, took issue with President Trump’s suggestion that a coronavirus vaccine would be available by Election Day, as he repeatedly sought to reassure senators and the public that a vaccine would not be made available to the public unless it was safe and effective.

“Certainly, to try to predict whether it happens on a particular week before or after a particular date in early November is well beyond anything that any scientist right now could tell you and be confident they know what they are saying,” Dr. Collins told a Senate panel at a hearing on the effort to find a vaccine.

  • The Trump administration intends to end coronavirus screenings of passengers arriving to the United States from overseas, according to three officials familiar with the plans.
  • One in five young adults hospitalized for Covid-19 needs intensive care and 2.7% of them die, according to research published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
  • Olympic volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings is facing a wave of backlash after she said she had a “little exercise in being brave” and went shopping without a face mask, writing in a post that coronavirus guidelines are just “restrictive [and] arbitrarily selective rules.”
  • Hundreds of Austrians have received U.S. coronavirus stimulus checks despite being ineligible, according to a new report, which comes the month after NPR reported thousands of foreigners who once worked in the U.S. had accidentally received checks.
  • The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced that it is pausing in-person classes for two weeks to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
  • Restaurants in New York City can reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity on Sept. 30, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, a major milestone in the city’s pandemic recovery.
  • Florida health officials reported 200 resident fatalities, bringing the resident death toll to 12,115
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that the state’s Covid-19 numbers are “really bad.”

“West Virginia, we are absolutely getting worse by the day. And this situation right now is very critical,” Justice said at a news conference.

  • Kentucky hit a “tough and unfortunate milestone today” with more than 1,000 total deaths recorded from Covid-19, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced in a news conference.
  • California Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove (R) spoke at a Sunday church event that gathered thousands of people in Sacramento, California despite being ordered to quarantine this week after meeting with another lawmaker who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Public health guidelines surrounding Halloween in Los Angeles are being revised from a ban on trick-or-treating, to simply a recommendation that people don’t go door-to-door on Halloween.

Protests/Racial & Social Issues

  • In an interview, award-winning journalist Bob Woodward suggested to President Trump that they have a duty to try to have a better understanding of the “the anger and pain” Black Americans feel. 

In response, Trump said, “No … You really drank the Kool-Aid, didn’t you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don’t feel that at all.”

  • Federal prosecutors filed charges against two men accused of causing civil disorder in attacks on police officers during a night of sometimes violent protests in Rochester, N.Y., over the weekend.

It was at the least the third instance this week in which federal prosecutors intervened in cases where people have been accused of attacking officers during protests against police brutality and systemic racism. Such cases have typically been handled by state prosecutors.

  • Actress Kirstie Alley criticized new requirements by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Oscars that encourage “equitable representation on and off screen,” with new diversity requirements for certain award nominations, with Alley calling it a “disgrace to artists everywhere” in a tweet that she has since deleted and clarified following backlash.
  • George Washington University African American history professor, Jessica Krug, who admitted in a blog post to posing as Black for years, has resigned from the school.
  • “[Trump’s] hatred for Barack Obama is plain and simple: he’s Black, he went to Harvard Law, he graduated at the top of his class, he’s incredibly articulate, he’s all the things that Donald Trump wants to be,” Michel Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney said. “And he just can’t handle it. So what do you do if you’re Donald Trump and you can’t handle it? You attack it.”
  • American Airlines will permit its employees to wear Black Lives Matter pins while on the job after several Black employees of American Airlines asked if they could wear the pins after seeing workers at other airlines wearing them. 

“Fundamentally, we believe Black Lives Matter is an expression of equality, not a political statement,” a spokesperson for the company said.

  • Lawmakers in Buffalo, N.Y., approved a motion to remove the name of the 13th U.S. President Millard Fillmore from properties owned by the city after renewed attention was brought to his role in approving a fugitive slave act that required officials and citizens in states where slavery was outlawed to help in the return of escaped slaves.
  • The Central Park birder Christian Cooper has written a graphic novel based on his racist confrontation with a white woman captured on video. “It’s a bird,” published digitally by DC Comics, connects racism’s daily humiliations and deadly police brutality.

Trump Administration News

  • President Trump bragged about a supposedly secret new nuclear weapons system in an interview with journalist Bob Woodward, according to excerpts from Woodward’s new book.

“I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about,” Trump told Woodward. “We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before.”

  • In another new revelation, Woodward writes that former Defense Secretary James Mattis told then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that Trump is “unfit” “dangerous” and “has no moral compass” to which Coats agreed, saying: “To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”
  • President Trump lashed out at generals in a conversation with White House economic adviser Peter Navarro, according to Woodward’s new book.

Trump said “his generals” were “pussies.” 

“Not to mention my fucking generals are a bunch of pussies. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals,” Trump told Navarro.

  • The United States is cutting troop levels in Iraq roughly in half, to 3,000 forces, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East said.
  • Court testimony from top-ranking Postal Service officials shows that the agency removed 711 mail-sorting machines in 2020, roughly twice the average number that it typically removes each year.
  • Operational changes implemented at the U.S. Postal Service under President Trump are posing potentially “serious health risks” to Americans who rely on prescription drug deliveries, according to a new report.
  • Attorney General William Barr is arguing that the Department of Justice’s move to defend President Trump in the defamation suit brought by author E. Jean Carroll, who accused the president of rape, was a “normal application of the law.”
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there is a “substantial chance” that senior Kremlin officials ordered the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • President Trump, who counts his two Supreme Court appointments as among his greatest successes, issued a new list of 20 potential nominees to the court. 
  • A member of the Norwegian Parliament has nominated President Trump for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his role brokering relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Fifteen states are suing the Trump administration over its plan for opening up nearly 1.6 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, a decision environmentalists warn will be harmful to the climate and animals who live in the refuge.
  • President Trump moved to block oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina until mid-2032, a decade longer than drilling is currently delayed off Florida’s Gulf Coast. It was reported in June that the Trump administration was preparing to allow oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast but would wait to say so until after the election.
  • A whistleblower is alleging that top leaders at the Department of Homeland Security have politicized intelligence by directing agency analysts to downplay threats from violent white supremacists and Russian election interference.The political appointees pushed him to alter intelligence assessments “related to Russian efforts to influence and undermine United States interests” to match President Trump’s public remarks. The whistleblower also alleges he faced retaliation after being pressured to edit intelligence.
  • A report commissioned by federal regulators overseeing the nation’s commodities markets has concluded that climate change threatens U.S. financial markets, as the costs of wildfires, storms, droughts and floods spread through insurance and mortgage markets, pension funds and other financial institutions.

“A world wracked by frequent and devastating shocks from climate change cannot sustain the fundamental conditions supporting our financial system,” concluded the report, “Managing Climate Risk in the Financial System.”

Presidential Campaign

  • Vice President Pence and other top officials from President Trump’s campaign are scheduled to attend a fundraiser in Montana next week hosted by a couple who have backed the QAnon conspiracy theory.
  • President Trump’s reelection campaign won’t be able to hold a rally on Saturday in Nevada as planned.

The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority has sent a letter to the company that runs the hangar that is set to be the venue for the 5,000 person rally this weekend, saying the event “may not proceed,” citing Nevada’s restrictions on public gatherings.

  • Joe Biden unveiled a plan that would punish companies that send jobs overseas. The “Made in America” tax policy would provide tax credits that keep manufacturing jobs on U.S. soil.
  • Longtime Republican election lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg issued a blunt rebuke to GOP claims of widespread voter fraud as President Trump looks to cast doubt over election procedures heading into November.

“The president’s rhetoric has put my party in the position of a firefighter who deliberately sets fires to look like a hero putting them out. Calling elections ‘fraudulent’ and results ‘rigged’ with almost nonexistent evidence is antithetical to being the ‘rule of law’ party.”

  • A New Hampshire woman voting in the state’s primary election this week voted topless after she was told that she couldn’t wear a “McCain Hero, Trump Zero” shirt to cast her ballot.

A local official said she “took it off so fast, no one had time to react so the whole place just went, ‘Woah,’ and she walked away, and I let her vote. She could’ve just gone into the hallway and turned it inside-out.”

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