The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 9 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 48,794 new cases and 821 additional deaths.
  • The United States has surpassed 200,000 deaths from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.  

The first death from coronavirus in the US was reported on Feb. 29.  

Fifty four days later, on April 23, the US reported 50,000 deaths from Covid-19. Just 29 days later, on May 23, the nation crossed 100,000 deaths. 

It took 65 days to reach 150,000 deaths on July 28. It has taken 55 days to reach 200,000 deaths.

  • In a pre-recorded speech before the annual meeting of world leaders, President Trump admonished China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, demanding that the intergovernmental organization hold Beijing’s ruling Communist government “accountable for their actions.”
  • China’s Ambassador to the United Nations hit out at the United States, calling the country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic “a complete failure.”

In a news conference held at the Chinese Mission in New York, Zhang Jun said: “If we do have to hold anyone accountable, it should be the United States held accountable for losing so many lives with their irresponsible behavior.”

  • The National Institutes of Health is expanding trials of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19. The trials are receiving $48 million through Operation Warp Speed.
  • Nearly nine million Americans are still without their stimulus checks seven months after the CARES Act passed, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci contradicted President Trump’s claim at a rally that the coronavirus affects “virtually nobody” young, and only hits the elderly, saying: “It’s very disrespectful to me, because I’m in my 70s … It isn’t just the elderly and those with underlying conditions. It can be serious in young people.”
  • Fauci said the reporting of 40,000 coronavirus cases each day is “unacceptable” — and that rate of infection needs to come down before winter.
  • Fauci said he wouldn’t grade how the U.S. has handled the COVID-19 pandemic – but instead said the numbers speak for themselves.

During a CITIZEN by CNN Conference on Tuesday, Dr. Sanjay Gupta read a viewer question about President Trump giving the White House response to the pandemic an A+.

Fauci refused to give his own grade, saying he doesn’t find those types of questions helpful.

“Take a look at the numbers and make up your own mind,” Fauci said. “We don’t need a soundbite from me. Take a look at the numbers.”

  • Fauci said the “divisive state” of US society is a roadblock to the country’s coronavirus response, calling out individuals for “taking sides” on public health measures. 

“What has evolved now is that almost people take sides, like wearing a mask is or not is a political statement, and that’s really very unfortunate. Totally unfortunate because this is a purely public health issue. It should not be one against the other.”

  • President Trump offered his first reaction to the United States surpassing 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, telling reporters it was “a shame” but that it could have been worse.

“I think it’s a shame. I think if we didn’t do it properly and do it right you’d have 2.5 million deaths,” he told reporters.

  • Max Kennedy Jr., the grandson of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy told The New Yorker that he was the whistleblower that sounded the alarm on presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner’s coronavirus task force to Congress.

Kennedy said he sent an anonymous whistleblower complaint to Congress in April “detailing dangerous incompetence” in the administration’s pandemic response, according to the report.

Brad Smith, one of the leaders of the task force, “pressured [Kennedy] to create a model fudging the projected number of fatalities,” according to the report. Smith told him that he wanted the model to revise down the number of projected deaths, arguing that experts’ models were “too severe,” according to Kennedy.

“I don’t know the first thing about disease modelling,” Kennedy said he told Smith, adding that he turned down the task.

The team was also directed to prioritize requests from Trump’s friends and supporters, including “special attention” for Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, who demanded masks for a hospital she favored.

  • The CDC issued its first guidance for the holidays. Most traditional activities for Halloween, such as door-to-door trick-or-treating and costume parties, are discouraged this year due to the pandemic
  • Senate Democrats have just introduced the Science and Transparency Over Politics (STOP) Act, legislation that would establish a task force to investigate claims that the Trump administration politicized health agencies’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We simply cannot trust this administration to protect the American people, which is why Congress must step in.”

  • The NFL has fined New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden $100K each for not properly wearing face coverings on MNF

The Saints and Raiders were also fined $250K each, bringing total for Week 2 fines to $1.75M.

  • The NFL and the NFL Players Association report no new COVID-19 cases among the league’s 2,438 players from Sept. 13 to 19, according to testing results released Tuesday.
  • Following multiple positive COVID-19 tests among student-athletes at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish have postponed Saturday’s game against Wake Forest.
  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that large outdoor venues will be allowed to open at 7% capacity starting October 2 if stable COVID-19 trends continue.

Protests/Racial & Social Issues

  • The California Department of Education announced new anti-racism lessons and teacher training for school districts days after President Trump decried the notion of teaching slavery as a founding tenet of the U.S. and called for a more “patriotic education.”
  • Wells Fargo & Co Chief Executive Charles Scharf exasperated some Black employees in a Zoom meeting this summer when he reiterated that the bank had trouble reaching diversity goals because there was not enough qualified minority talent, two participants told Reuters.

He also made the assertion in a company-wide memo June 18 that announced diversity initiatives as nationwide protests broke out following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, in police custody.

“While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from,” Scharf said in the memo, seen by Reuters.

  • Jon Mattingly, one of the Louisville Metro Police Department officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor, wrote a letter to his colleagues taking aim at city officials amid speculation that a decision will soon be reached in the case of Taylor’s death and saying he knows they did “the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.”
  • Costco removed Palmetto Cheese from 120 of its stores after the founder of the brand called the Black Lives Matter movement a “terror organization” on his public Facebook.

Trump Administration

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) announced that he will support a vote on President Trump’s expected Supreme Court nominee this year. 
  • Senate Republicans are eyeing a confirmation vote in late October for President Trump’s eventual Supreme Court nominee, who is yet to be announced. The GOP seems confident they can fill the seat of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election.
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that she will vote against a Supreme Court nominee if one is brought to the Senate floor before the November election.
  • President Trump’s former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump and other U.S. leaders are “making it easy” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to meddle in the U.S. election when they echo divisive messages. 

“Putin doesn’t create these divisions in our society, he doesn’t create these doubts, he magnifies them, and we just have to be really careful to not be our own worst enemy,” he said.

  • The Trump administration will begin to retroactively apply its controversial “public charge” rule, which would make it easier for immigration officials to deny entry or legal status to people likely to rely on government assistance, to immigrants following a court decision that lifted a nationwide injunction on the policy.
  • The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to consider hearing oral arguments in December for its appeal of a lower court ruling blocking President Trump’s order excluding people in the U.S. illegally from the census.
  • EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says there is “scientific debate” on whether hurricanes and other natural disasters are exacerbated by climate change, backing President Trump’s claims that fires in California are bad because of poor forest management.
  • Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette questioned whether humans are causing climate change despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that the phenomenon is human-caused.
  • The White House is appointing Ryan Maue, a meteorologist who has been vocal in questioning the science connecting climate change to extreme weather events, as the new chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency charged with overseeing the National Weather Service and monitoring hurricanes, wildfires and other extreme weather.

Presidential Campaign

  • With help from Michael Bloomberg, John Legend and others, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition says it has now raised more than $20 million to pay off outstanding court debts to help former felons be able to register to vote.
  • Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) endorsed Joe Biden for president. In a tweet, McCain said, “My husband John lived by a code: country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost. There’s only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is @JoeBiden.” 
  • The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned that foreign malicious hackers will likely attempt to spread disinformation around election results later this year. 

The agencies warned that “foreign actors and cybercriminals could exploit the time required to certify and announce elections’ results by disseminating disinformation that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud, and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections’ illegitimacy.”

  • President Trump, who has repeatedly made dubious claims about expanded mail-in voting inviting substantial fraud into the election, argued that his forthcoming nominee to the Supreme Court should receive a vote before the November election so that the high court will have nine justices to resolve election-related disputes. 

“You need that with the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending. It’s a scam,” Trump claimed. “It’s a hoax.

  • President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will face questions about the novel coronavirus, the Supreme Court and their respective records in elected office when they meet for the first 2020 presidential debate next week.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, the moderator of the first debate, announced the list of topics on Tuesday. The debate will also cover the economy, race and violence in U.S. cities, and the integrity of the election.

  • Republicans plan to ask the Supreme Court to review a major Pennsylvania state court ruling that extended the due date for mail ballots in the key battleground state, teeing up the first test for the Supreme Court since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Maine will now use ranked-choice voting in the November election, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday after a months-long legal battle, making it the first state to use ranked-choice voting in a presidential election. 

When voters in Maine cast their ballots in less than two months, they will be able to rank candidates in order of preference, instead of choosing just one.

  • A top-secret CIA assessment reportedly concludes that Russian President Vladamir Putin is behind a disinformation campaign targeting U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, “supporting the U.S. president and fueling public discord ahead of the U.S. election in November.”
  • Thirteen Nobel Prize-winning economists endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, saying his agenda will lead to “economic growth that is faster, more robust, and more equitable.” 

“While each of us has different views on the particulars of various economic policies, we believe that Biden’s overall economic agenda will improve our nation’s health, investment, sustainability, resilience, employment opportunities, and fairness and be vastly superior to the counterproductive economic policies of Donald Trump.”

Sources:  ABC News, Associated Press, The Atlantic, Axios, Bloomberg, CBS News, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Financial Times, Forbes,  Fox News,The Hill, Independent, MSNBC, NBC News, NJ.com, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

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