The Past 24 Hours or So

10/15

Read Time: 8 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • The U.S. reported 58,467 new cases with a test positivity rate of 6.162% and 830 additional deaths. 15,219 patients are receiving critical care. 
  • Seemingly frustrated by the fact that, 200,000 deaths later, there was still uncertainty about the federal government’s COVID-19 prevention strategy, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, paused before laying out, yet again, her broken-record response: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay socially distanced. 

“We have been able to give our best public health and scientific advice to leadership and… I continue to do that everyday whether it is the governor, whether it is the president, or whether it is members of the community. The consistency of that message is absolutely key,” Birx said at the University of Connecticut. Pressed again on whether masks were necessary, the task force leader rolled her eyes: “Let me make it clear: We know how effective these are in blocking our droplets. It’s not just theoretic[al].”

  • Tom Frieden, former director for the CDC said, “There is no national plan, no clear organization, we’re not on the same page and there’s a failure to communicate. There has not been consistent messaging from the federal government. Plus, there has been a politicization of mask-wearing and a lack of discipline in thinking about when to close and what to open. It’s mind-boggling.”
  • Bill Gates lashed out at the Trump administration for undermining infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and other government scientists. 

“We’re engaged in something where we’re attacking the government’s top scientists, not speaking out about how to save lives, but instead undermining the credibility of the person who’s the most knowledgeable,” the Microsoft founder and philanthropist said Tuesday during a Politico Playbook virtual discussion. 

“Expertise matters, and the CDC is largely not allowed to speak out. And so, fortunately, Dr. Fauci has risen above the noise level in talking about masks and best practices. And so the fact that they’re trying to undermine him, for some reason … That just blows the mind,” he said.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said that after a review of President Trump’s most recent coronavirus test, he is confident that the president is “not shedding infectious virus.”
  • Coronavirus precautions will result in a very different kind of Thanksgiving for many people this year, himself included, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

“You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering, unless you’re pretty certain that the people that you’re dealing with are not infected. Either they’ve been very recently tested, or they’re living a lifestyle in which they don’t have any interaction with anybody except you and your family,” he said.

  • The CDC said on Wednesday that COVID-19 vaccines may not be initially recommended for children, when they become available.
  • Melania Trump says her and the president’s 14-year-old son Barron tested positive for COVID-19 but exhibited no symptoms, and that he has since tested negative.
  • President Trump invoked his son Barron’s positive coronavirus case in a push to physically reopen U.S. schools, saying that the 14-year-old was unaffected by the virus because of his immune system. “It happens. People have it and it goes. Get the kids back to school. We’ve got to get them back to school,” Trump told the crowd.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke Wednesday morning to discuss coronavirus aid proposals. The two spent an hour seeking clarification on language, which was productive.

One major area of disagreement continues to be that the White House lacks an understanding of the need for a national strategic testing plan. 

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin later in the day said he and Pelosi were “far apart” on some details of another coronavirus relief package, and that an agreement would be hard to reach before the Nov. 3 election.
  • Economic experts are warning the job market won’t recover from fallouts caused by the coronavirus pandemic until 2024.
  • Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn shared a 2018 photo of a group of Democratic senators on Twitter and questioned why they were not wearing masks. The post drew fierce criticism for being misleading as it was taken well before the pandemic.
  • Wells Fargo has fired about 100 to 125 employees for unethically availing themselves of coronavirus relief funds, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The bank believes some of its staffers made “false representations in applying for coronavirus relief funds for themselves” defrauding the U.S. Small Business Administration.

  • An El Paso man was arrested last week and charged with practicing medicine without a medical license for selling and administering fraudulent COVID-19 treatments
  • Walmart will spread Black Friday deals in its stores across three weekends in November in an effort to lessen crowds during the coronavirus pandemic while offering other sales online.
  • House Republican Bill Huizenga announced that he tested positive for COVID-19. He was tested ahead of seeing Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to Michigan.
  • University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The Beverly Hills City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to prohibit trick-or-treating this year, citing concerns over COVID-19.
  • The French government on Wednesday declared a public health state of emergency, giving officials greater powers to impose new measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Coincidingly, France’s President Macron announced curfews in major cities.

Trump Administration

  • Robert O’Neill, who has publicly said he killed bin Laden in the 2011 raid ordered by former President Obama, pushed back on Trump in a series of tweets for promoting the conspiracy theory that it was a bin Laden’s body double who was killed and not the terrorist leader.

“Very brave men said goodby to their kids to go kill Osama bin Laden. We were given the order by President Obama. It was not a body double. Thank you Mr. President.”

  • Consumer confidence index, as of September, stood at 80.4 – 6.8 points lower than in October 2016, just before Trump was elected.
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose a global threat, after Pyongyang’s unveiling of previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missiles at a predawn military parade.
  • A U.S. appeals court agreed to fast-track a Justice Department appeal of a ruling blocking the government from banning new TikTok downloads from U.S. app stores.
  • The FDA approved the world’s first successful treatment for the Ebola virus, a major step against one of the world’s deadliest pathogens.
  • Conservation groups are planning to sue the Trump administration in order to spur endangered species protections for giraffes. With as few as 69,000 adult giraffes remaining in the wild, environmentalists have for years pushed the federal government to protect the species, something they say will inhibit trade for hunting trophies.

Presidential Campaign

  • Twitter has suspended a group of fake accounts pretending to be owned by Black supporters of President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign.

Offending accounts appeared to use stolen photos of real people including military veterans and members of law enforcement in their profile pictures.

Collectively, the accounts had 265,000 retweets or Twitter mentions. Some of them had amassed over 10,000 followers.

  • Republicans in California drew widespread backlash this week and state officials have accused them of breaking the law by installing unofficial ballot drop boxes in multiple counties, a move deemed misleading and possibly harmful to counting mail-in ballots. 

President Trump is now cheering on the move, tweeting: “Fight hard Republicans. They have been taking advantage of the system for years!”

  • The California Republican Party said Wednesday it will not comply with the state’s cease-and-desist order over unofficial ballot drop boxes placed in at least four counties, escalating a brewing political showdown ahead of the November election.

The unauthorized ballot boxes, which state officials have called illegal, have been found in at least four counties across the state

  • Weeks before Election Day, 14 million people have already voted in the presidential election, according to an analysis by the United States Election Project, another sign that this presidential election could spark record-breaking turnout.
  • A federal judge has extended the deadline for registering to vote in Virginia by 48 hours after the state’s online voter registration system went down because of an accidentally severed cable.

Wednesday’s order in Richmond is an effort to make up for several hours of lost time on Tuesday, which had been the last day to register before the November general election.

  • At three different campaign rallies this week, Trump repeated the lie that Mexico is paying for the border wall. 
  • NBC’s announcement on Wednesday that it will host a town hall with President Trump Thursday night resulted in considerable blowback on social media, with critics arguing it should not have been scheduled up against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s town hall at the same time on ABC.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, one of President Trump’s most vocal Republican critics, said that he will not support the president when it comes to the November election.
  • The scientific journal Nature has endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president, citing what it calls President Trump’s attacks on “so many valuable institutions,” including the press, the courts and science agencies.

“Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in next month’s presidential election, is the nation’s best hope to begin to repair this damage to science and the truth,” the endorsement reads.

  • Michelle Obama issued a challenge to celebrities to round up their Voting Squad and several are beginning to answer the call. Kerry Washington, Chris Paul, Selena Gomez, Tom Hanks, Shonda Rhimes, and Janelle Monáe are among the big names who have assured the former First Lady that they were up for the challenge.
  • Twitter has stopped users from sharing a New York Post article completely and Facebook is tamping down on the spread of the story after many sounded an alarm that it had questionable sourcing. The story in question attacks Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and includes allegations based off hacked information.
  • In a new ad released by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign, George Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd, calls for change and discusses the importance of voting after her brother was killed by police officers in Minneapolis. She recalls Biden meeting with her family, saying he was “there to listen” and describing him as “very sincere.” 

“Biden is the change that we need.”

Racial & Social Issues

  • Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes says she is “not ok” after a virtual town hall she was hosting was repeatedly interrupted by racist slurs from zoombombers. Someone yelled, “Shut up N-word,” and then someone began playing the same racial slur on a loop over music. Another person posted “GO PICK YOUR COTTON.”  

“Black women are expected to press on, to ignore this behavior,” she wrote in a post speaking out about the incident. “The only way we can cut the cancer of racism out of our communities is by calling it out when we see it and raising our collective voices to get rid of it.”

  • The St. Louis couple who went viral for waving guns at Black Lives Matter protesters marching on their street pleaded not guilty to two felony charges over the incident. Should they be charged, Missouri Gov. Michael Parson (R) has already suggested he’d pardon the couple.
  • Federal prosecutors have charged a white Michigan man with a hate crime for allegedly breaking an African American teenager’s jaw with a bike lock during a tense confrontation. Lee Mouat repeatedly yelled racial slurs and said that African Americans had no right to use the public beach where the incident occurred, according to prosecutors.
  • Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of slaves in the U.S., is officially a public holiday in the State of New York.

Gov. Cuomo signed legislation Wednesday, passed by the Legislature in July, designating June 19th as Juneteenth.

  • Ice Cube is reportedly helping develop the Trump administration’s “Platinum Plan,” which aims to bring $500 billion to Black America. His involvement has sparked backlash by some, but Ice Cube says he’s willing to work with both parties to address racism in the United States.
  • Over 60 local prosecutors and state attorneys general issued a joint statement Wednesday saying that they will not enforce laws criminalizing abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that first legalized the procedure.

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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