Headlines: April 20, 2020
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:02 — 7.3MB)
In today’s news headlines, right wing protests have broken out in various cities around the country, encouraged by President Donald Trump. The protesters are angry at state governors who have enacted quarantine orders to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. President Trump, who fears that a depressed economy will ruin his chances of reelection defended them on Sunday saying, “These are great people.” He added, “they’ve got cabin fever. They wanna get back. They want their life back. Their life was taken away from them.” Days earlier Trump had shocked the nation with tweets of “Liberate” Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia which many interpreted as calls for violence and insurrection.
Over the weekend reports emerged of the many protests that transpired of people ignoring quarantine and social distancing orders and gathering in large groups in the state capitals of Maryland, Texas, and Ohio. According to The Guardian, “Hundreds of people stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the Texas Capitol on Saturday, chanting “Fire Fauci!” as part of a protest organized by the conspiracy theory site InfoWars.” They were referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases expert. Additionally, “In Maryland, protesters stayed inside their cars and honked their horns as they drove around the capital, Annapolis, to demand that Governor Larry Hogan “reopen Maryland”. In Columbus, Ohio, hundreds of protesters gathered, some chanting “We are not sheep”.” In California, pro-Trump protesters marched in Huntington Beach on Friday and in San Diego on Saturday. In Denver, Colorado healthcare workers wearing scrubs and masks stood in the middle of the street blocking cars filled with right wing protesters from passing. The right wing protesters seem to represent a minority view in the nation as a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed that 60% of Americans support “stay-at-home” orders. A majority of Americans worry that the US will move to reopen its economy too quickly. The results were mirrored by a Yahoo News/YouGov poll which found that 60% of Americans oppose the right-wing protesters.
During his Sunday press briefing Trump once more reacted angrily to a reporter’s question about his month of inaction in February after having been briefed in January about the dangers of the disease. Trump asked Weijia Jiang of CBS News to “relax” and take it “nice and easy,” when she asked why he did not recommend social distancing before March 16th. Trump has railed against numerous individuals and institutions blaming them for the spread of the disease but never claimed any responsibility himself. Last week he cut off funding for the World Health Organization saying they did not do their job. However the Washington Post reported on Sunday that American officials working at the W.H.O. transmitted information about the virus to the Trump Administration in real time. Specifically, “Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said.”
Meanwhile state governors from both parties are taking issue with the Trump Administration’s continued false claims that the federal government is providing enough equipment and supplies to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia said in an interview on Sunday, “We are fighting a biological war…We have been asked as governors to fight that war without the supplies we need.” Northam was responding to Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that, “there is a sufficient capacity of testing across the country today for any state in America.” Northam called Pence’s words, “delusional.” Maryland’s Republican governor Larry Hogan said, “It’s not accurate to say there’s plenty of testing out there, and the governors should just get it done… That’s just not being straightforward.” Mr. Pence will be reportedly leading a conference call with governors on Monday to address their concerns.
The official Covid-19 death toll in the US has hit 40,000 with more than three quarters of a million confirmed cases of infection. A whopping one fifth of fatalities are linked to nursing homes across the country. The New York Times tallied up the cases and found that, “the number of people living in or connected to nursing homes who have died of the coronavirus [is] at least 7,000, far higher than previously known.” Meanwhile Associated Press reports that, “A flood of new research suggests that far more people have had the coronavirus without any symptoms, fueling hope that it will turn out to be much less lethal than originally feared.” However, that also means that, “it’s impossible to know who around you may be contagious. That complicates decisions about returning to work, school and normal life.”
Congress and the Trump administration are close to a deal on a new bill that would expand the small business loan fund from the CARES act that was exhausted within weeks. In addition to a new $300 billion loan fund for small businesses, the bill would expand funding for hospitals and increased virus testing to the tune of $100 billion. News emerged on Monday that Harvard University – the nation’s wealthiest higher education institution – received $9 million in taxpayer funds under the CARES act, despite having a $41 billion endowment. Last week the popular high-end restaurant chain Ruth Chris Steak House, which has 159 franchises around the nation, received $20 million even though it hardly qualifies as a small business and the loans are capped at $10 million. The national burger chain Shake Shack also received a $10 million loan which it now says it will return to the federal government.
Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar has proposed a new bill on Friday that would address the housing crisis many Americans find themselves in. With record unemployment millions of Americans are at a loss for how to make their rent or mortgage payments. Omar’s Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act according to the bill’s description, “would constitute a full payment forgiveness, with no accumulation of debt for renters or homeowners and no negative impact on their credit rating or rental history.”
Democratic Presidential candidate and presumptive nominee Joe Biden is under fire for releasing a political ad that critics say feeds into racist and anti-China sentiment. Biden’s ad slams Trump’s lack of response to the coronavirus and features video of Trump shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping with a voice over that said, “When Trump rolled over for the Chinese, he took their word for it.” Cecilia Wang, the deputy legal director for the ACLU slammed the ad saying on Twitter, “Wow @JoeBiden. Already trying to out-Trump Trump. This kind of fearmongering is causing violent attacks on Asian Americans. If you are trying to reform your past history of racist policymaking, like your 1994 crime bill, you had better do some homework. This ain’t it.”
And finally Canada saw its deadliest mass shooting in history on Sunday. So far at least 16 people have been killed in the Portapique region of Nova Scotia. The suspected gunman, a 51-year old white man named Gabriel Wortman is also dead.