Headlines: July 10, 2020
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The US has once more broken a record for coronavirus infections in a single day, surpassing 60,000 for the 6th time in 10 days. While infections had been declining nationwide in the face of some states seeing rising numbers, now even the nationwide downward trend appears to be reversing. The New York Times explained that, “States that were among the earliest to reopen have driven the surge in cases in the U.S.” The result was exactly what scientific experts had warned would happen when states like Georgia, Florida, and Texas decided to throw caution to the wind. Now, many counties and cities are reversing orders on reopening businesses and even some governors considering state-wide shutdowns such as the Nevada Governor’s order to re-close bars.
The Florida County of Miami-Dade is particularly worrisome. On Thursday County officials reported that more than one third of all people who got tested had positive results. In addition to the patchwork approaches to shutting down and reopening businesses, the Trump White House has not had a systematic approach to testing for the coronavirus. Increasingly states are frustrated and the Washington Post reports that as per a new report, “The Trump administration’s erratic approach to testing for the novel coronavirus has left state leaders and commercial laboratories confused, frustrated and unprepared for the fall.” Sen. Patty Murray who led the report said, “several interviewees, including large clinical labs, reported that despite the Administration’s assurances, they did not see how the United States would reach even a million tests per day by the fall.” The White House insists that it has been a global leader despite evidence to the contrary and despite Trump’s open declaration that he has asked to slow down testing due to the poor optics of an out-of-control disease. A Trump backing Republican state senator in Ohio, Nino Vitale, demanded that his constituents must “Never get tested,” claiming that somehow doing so means we are living in a “dictatorship.” In California, where just a few weeks ago there were a large number of testing sites but little demand has now suddenly begun running out of tests leaving residents waiting days and weeks to obtain a test.
The Los Angeles Times has conducted an investigation into how federal officials are refusing to invest in research that has promising results for staving off the virus. Scientists have proposed several times that the blood plasma of recovered Covid-19 patients could offer significant immunity when injected into healthy patients, for at least many months. The method could potentially protect healthcare workers in particular as they treat Covid-19 patients. According to the LA Times, “Federal health officials and industry groups say the development of plasma-based therapies should focus on treating people who are already sick, not on preventing infections in those who are still healthy.”
A new poll has found that parents in California are split and stressed out on the issue of their children returning to reopened schools in the fall. Only 16% of respondents supported a full reopening of schools. Adding to the conundrum is the fact that an unprecedented 14 million school-age children are found to be going hungry during the pandemic. Black families are hardest hit with 30% of black children struggling to be fed. CDC Director Robert Redfield has insisted that the health benefits of reopening schools outweigh the risks but the once-vaunted agency has lost credibility for making science-based decisions under Trump. Dr. Anthony Fauci has been speaking out in interviews after being snubbed by Trump and said in an interview that partisanship has made our response to Covid-19 far worse.
In yet another indication of the politicization of non-political entities under Trump the Department of Health and Human Services has now accused the CDC of undermining Trump for publishing a report about the potential risks of the coronavirus to pregnant women. Trump in private has apparently been railing about the impact of the virus – not on millions of Americans, but on him and his chances of reelection. The Washington Post described how visitors to the White House are routinely treated to a “woe-is-me” preamble from Trump. Further, says the paper, “The president has cast himself in the starring role of the blameless victim — of a deadly pandemic, of a stalled economy, of deep-seated racial unrest, all of which happened to him rather than the country.” Americans seem to be increasingly tired of Trump with a new poll showing that a whopping two thirds of all Americans now disapprove of the President’s handling of the pandemic.
Americans are also seemingly less tolerant of police violence these days—even in white-majority states like Utah. Protesters in Salt Lake City this week smashed the windows of a district attorney’s office and smeared it with red paint after police officers involved in a fatal shooting were cleared of charges. On May 23rd, two days before Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, officers in Salt Lake City shot a 22-year old man named Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal 34 times in the back while he was running away. After weeks of protests demanding accountability the officers remained free. Utah Governor Gary Herbert has declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile there has been a separate rise in violent homicides in many cities around the US although other violent crimes have fallen. The Trump reelection campaign is now attempting to conflate that rise in murders to anti-police protests and Black Lives Matter with a new ad that shows burning buildings with the caption, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”
A new ground-breaking report proves just how little Black Lives have mattered in the American justice system. The report by Kings County District Attorney’s office in New York has detailed 25 wrongful convictions amounting to 426 years of prison sentences between them. Twenty four of the 25 cases were black men. Meanwhile, Trump’s Attorney General William Barr, who has politicized his office like no other AG in recent memory agrees with the President saying in a Thursday interview on ABC that Black Lives Matter “distorts” the debate on racism in the US. Barr has insisted-like other Trump officials- that rather than defunding the police, they ought to be given more money. And House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler on Thursday emerged from a closed-door hearing with Former US Attorney for Manhattan Geoffrey Berman and all but accused Barr of bribery and corruption. Mr. Nadler told reporters, “The attorney general repeatedly attempted to entice Mr. Berman to step down voluntarily, even after Berman made clear that his leaving would disrupt certain sensitive cases…We don’t know yet if the attorney general’s conduct is criminal, but that kind of quid pro quo is awfully close to bribery.”
The Commerce Department’s Office of the Inspector General has rebuked the Department led by Trump loyalist Wilbur Ross for siding with President Trump over scientific fact in the controversy that came to be known as Sharpie-gate. In a new report the OIG pointed out that when Trump erroneously insisted that some states that were not in danger from Hurricane Dorian would be impacted, rather than contradict him, the Commerce Department instructed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to agree with him. The report found that the incident deeply harmed the NOAA’s reputation. But it failed to recommend punishments for officials or adjustments to existing policies. Meanwhile
Tropical Storm Fay heads to the North Atlantic Coast this weekend and could result in major flooding and tornadoes in New York City and surrounding areas.