Headlines: April 24, 2020
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The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a fourth Coronavirus-related economic stimulus package to the tune of $484 billion. The measure, which the Senate passed earlier this week, was won by a vote of 388 to 5. Many Democrats denounced the inadequacy of the financial help even as they voted for it with Congressman Richard Neal saying, ““We are all painfully aware that the American people are worried about their health, their jobs, the economy and what life will look like after the emergency subsides…That’s why we fought to increase funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.” He added, “But I want to be clear, this does not come close to addressing the staggering needs of the American family.” New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who was among the five lawmakers voting no, made an impassioned plea for more support on the House floor. President Trump on Friday signed the bill into law. Meanwhile a new poll by Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that, “Forty-six percent of all Americans say their household has experienced some form of income loss from layoffs, reduced hours, unpaid leave or salary reductions,” and yet, “78% believe those former jobs will definitely or probably return.”
Meanwhile President Trump stunned the nation on Thursday evening during his Covid-19 press briefing by suggesting that scientists study tanning and ingesting disinfectant as ways to treat the virus. PLAY VIDEO. Shock and horror at Trump’s bizarre suggestions broke out in media outlets and social media platforms. One health policy expert on NBC called Trump’s suggestion to use disinfectant as a treatment as, “irresponsible,” and “dangerous,” and added, “It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.” The company that manufactures Lysol went as far as releasing a statement saying, “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”
Previously Trump had for weeks enthusiastically touted another unproven treatment of a set of drugs called hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 until studies showed that it increased mortality rates in patients rather than curing them. Now, Trump’s own Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against the drug saying it was dangerous. The Wall Street Journal reports that thousands of Covid-19 patients are signing up for clinical trials testing the drug and, “thousands more patients are taking the unproven pills as part of their treatment.” Trump has now mysteriously stopped mentioning the medication.
The impact of coronavirus in the US continues to run deep as fatalities surpass the 50,000 mark. Worldwide there have been 192,000 deaths from the virus documented with 2.7 million infections. The state of New York which has had the majority of cases within the US, released data on Thursday showing that nearly 14% of the state’s population may have been infected. In New York City alone that number jumped to 20% or 1 in 5. Vice President Mike Pence announced this week that there had been 4.9 million Covid tests now done in the US but that is still a very minuscule fraction of the population, especially when compared with other nations. Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview, “We absolutely need to significantly ramp up, not only the number of tests but the capacity to actually perform them,” and that, “I am not overly confident right now at all, that we have what it takes to do that.” On Thursday evening President Trump thought otherwise and said, “I don’t agree with him on that, no, I think we’re doing a great job on testing.”
Several Republican-run states, namely Georgia, Utah, and Tennessee, gave businesses the green light to reopen this week. The Washington Post reported that emergency management and health department staff in the state expressed shock and disbelief at the move and were “blindsided” by their governors. Several large corporate chains such as Macy’s, Starbucks and others announced that they would not yet reopen their local stores in those states. News also emerged that just before President Trump publicly disapproved of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen, he had spoken of it approvingly in private conversations with Kemp. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is planning on reopening his state on April 30th but a new poll shows Floridians disagreeing with 76% saying they want to return to normal only after public health officials say it is okay to do so.
Organizers in California of the pro-Trump, anti-stay-at-home protests, may face charges according to the Los Angeles Times. According to the paper, “law enforcement agencies have made at least two arrests and may press charges in one case.” A San Diego woman could face a misdemeanor charge for violating the state order. And, Kaiser Health News has pointed out the growing convergence between anti-vaccine groups and the protests against stay-at-home orders. Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston said, “This is just a fresh coat of paint for the anti-vaccine movement in America, and an exploitative means for them to try to remain relevant.” Photos of the recent protests show some holding anti-vaccine signs.
The Trump administration is reportedly readying a loan for the US Postal Service that will have stringent conditions. The Treasury Department’s $10 billion loan to the popular public service will give the President leverage over how it prices its package deliveries and manages its finances. Trump has long railed against the postal service and demanded changes. USPS, which faces a major payroll funding gap, has not requested the loan.
And in election related news, the Democratic Party’s presumptive Presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading Trump in polls of the key swing states of Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. But there’s a caveat. Four years ago the Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton was leading Trump by a larger margin in those same states and still went on to lose to him. Meanwhile Biden, rather than promoting strong policy positions to increase his lead, instead warned that Trump will try “somehow” to delay or cancel the election. Speaking to donors during a virtual fundraiser Biden said, “Mark my words, I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held.”