Headlines: July 17, 2020
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:36 — 7.9MB)
The United States broke yet another record in the number of new Covid-19 infections. More than 75,000 new cases were recorded on Thursday with the New York Times remarking, “The number of daily cases has more than doubled since June 24, when the country registered 37,014 cases after a lull in the outbreak had kept the previous record, 36,738, standing for two months.” Three states alone: Florida, Texas, and California, account for 20 percent of all cases worldwide. The situation is so dire that one of the US’s top vaccinologists, Peter Jay Hotez of Baylor College predicted, “In the next few weeks, every single American’s going to know someone who’s seriously ill from COVID-19.” More than 1,400 Americans died from Covid-19 on Wednesday marking the beginning of an expected surge in deaths that follows from the beginning of the surge in infections.
There are indications that the Trump administration is well aware of the dire situation unfolding across the nation but is unwilling to take steps to tackle it. On Friday the Center for Public Integrity published an internal document that had been prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommending that, “more than a dozen states should revert to more stringent protective measures, limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, closing bars and gyms and asking residents to wear masks at all times.” The document was dated July 14th but the White House has not chosen to make it public or act on it. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute said, “The fact that it’s not public makes no sense to me…Why are we hiding this information from the American people? This should be published and updated every day.”
Instead of addressing the pandemic, President Donald Trump at a Thursday news conference bragged about how his administration had brought back incandescent lights and weakened the Clean Water Act. A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Trump’s disapproval rating soaring to 60%. Specifically, “More than 6 in 10 say they do not trust what he says about the outbreak, including 2 in 3 political independents and nearly 3 in 10 Republicans.” The poll also found that, “A 63 percent majority say it is more important to try to control the spread of the virus even if it hurts the economy.”
Trump’s niece Mary, who has been going on an interview spree about her new tell-all book revealed on Thursday in an MSNBC interview that she often heard her uncle use racist language.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday released a new report concluding that the Trump administration’s travel restrictions came too late to help New York City earlier this year. Although Trump restricted travel from China quite early, he waited six weeks, until March 13thto restrict incoming European travel and a vast majority of early cases in New York City were traced back to that misstep. At a press conference New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared, “They failed, and the virus came to New York, and Americans died because of government failure. Period.” Meanwhile, a long-awaited CDC report on school re-openings will now not be released this week as expected. A CDC spokesperson announced that the report would be published before the end of the month. The Trump Administration has deeply politicized the re-openings of in-person K-12 education. On Thursday White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the quiet part out loud when she explained that the Trump administration would not let science stand in the way of schools reopening.
USA Today has issued a mea culpa of sorts after it published an op-ed by White House Trade representative Peter Navarro slamming Dr. Anthony Fauci as untrustworthy and “wrong about everything.” The nation’s most respected infectious disease expert has been targeted by the Trump administration for letting science dictate his recommendations on a dangerous and contagious disease. USA Today added a note to the editorial saying, “several of Navarro’s criticisms of Fauci … were misleading or lacked context. As such, Navarro’s op-ed did not meet USA TODAY’s fact-checking standards.” Meanwhile, the man that Trump has relied on over Fauci, Chuck Woolery, has changed his position. Woolery, a former TV show host, had tweeted that “everyone is lying” about Covid-19, which Trump promptly re-tweeted. Days later Woolery tweeted, “Covid-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus.” Woolery then deleted his Twitter account.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is suing the city of Atlanta for maintaining a city-wide mask-wearing mandate. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms responded calling it, “simply bizarre, quite frankly,” especially given that Kemp is urging the public to wear masks in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19. In contrast Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is requesting legal authority from the courts to mandate mask wearing in schools if they are to reopen in the fall. Two private schools and one public school district have claimed he does not have the authority to mandate mask wearing. Meanwhile, Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina faces accusations of racism after he attributed high levels of Covid-19 infections among Hispanic Americans as the result of their apparent reluctance to socially distance or wear masks. Tillis said earlier this week, “we do have some concerns that in the Hispanic population we’ve seen less consistent adherence to social distancing and wearing a mask.” Texas Representative Veronica Escobar slammed Tillis saying, “This racist BS needs to stop. Latinos & African Americans are most at risk, dying at higher rates — and STILL going to work every day [because] they are essential workers. Meanwhile, Republican colleagues in Congress are the ones who refuse to use masks.”
As tens of millions of unemployed Americans worry that Congress will not extend their $600-a-week benefits before they expire next week, Trump is threatening to veto any bill that does not include a payroll tax cut. Payroll taxes fund Social Security and Medicare – the highly popular social programs that Republicans have been itching to cut for decades.
The insurgent candidate Jamaal Bowman has now officially beaten incumbent New York Congressman Eliot Engel after New York’s primary results were finally certified. The latest Cook Political Report is just out and concludes that Democrats are very likely to retain their control of the House of Representatives in November’s election.
Protesters in Portland, Oregon report being detained by unmarked federal officers during anti-police protests. Major newspapers like the Washington Post are now covering the ominous trend of heavily armed federal agents who are refusing to identify themselves, explain why they are arresting people, or offer any paperwork or documentation of the arrests. Activists worry that Portland is a test case for Trump’s testing of the limits of executive power to use Department of Homeland Security officers in domestic unrest. Senator Ron Wyden slammed them as, “Donald Trump’s secret police.”