Headlines: October 6, 2020
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President Donald Trump on Monday left Walter Reed Military Hospital after only 3 days of treatment for Covid-19. In a staged and heavily covered ceremony Trump exited the facility wearing a mask and upon arriving at the White House, took his mask off for cameras even though he was by all accounts deeply contagious and his every breath carried a virus load. He then gave a brief address urging people to not be afraid of the deadly disease.The speech caused consternation among doctors and family members of those who died from the disease. One scientist wrote on Twitter, “What White House staffer would still wanna go to work tomorrow??? Epidemiologists just wanna vomit.” Another pointed out that Trump was visibly making a serious effort to breathe as he stood for the cameras. Many have pointed out the risks that Trump is putting his own staff at with a writer for The Guardian saying, “The bodyguards are there to take a bullet for the president, not to take one from him, but that was in effect what Trump was demanding they do for a photo-op.” Two White House housekeepers have already tested positive for the disease. None of the support staff that are expected to serve the President are likely to have the high quality treatment Trump has access to.
More than 200,000 Americans have lost their lives to coronavirus and many family members who lost loved ones say they are outraged at the president’s cavalier behavior. The organization COVID Survivors for Change released a statement saying, “For the long haulers living with symptoms of COVID-19 for months on end, this virus is terrifying. Trump doesn’t care, and he still doesn’t get what families are going through.” The group organized an installation of 20,000 empty lawn chairs in front of the White House, one for every 10 people who have died in the US from the virus. Meanwhile Trump has continued to spread misinformation on social media and on Monday Twitter took down one of his tweets saying it violated their policies and then put it back up saying, “that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” In it Trump equated the Coronavirus to the seasonal flu even though Covid death rates are twice that of the flu. According to a new CNN poll, two thirds of Americans feel that Trump was irresponsible about his illness and infection. According to the outlet, “Disapproval of the President’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak stands at a new high in the survey, with 60% saying they disapprove. Additionally, 63% say his own infection is unlikely to change anything about the way that he handles the pandemic.” Shockingly the White House gift shop on Monday began taking pre-orders of a $100 commemorative coin labeled “Trump Defeats Covid.”
As part of his continued politicization of the disease the Trump administration this week has blocked the FDA’s stringent guidelines for a vaccine to be approved. Even as companies developing vaccines are in the middle of their trials, which are slated to extend past the election date, the Trump White House, in a desperate bid to have a vaccine release as a campaign event, have pushed to curtail the studies. The Rose Garden event more than a week ago which numerous infected people are known to have attended is being viewed as a “super-spreader” event and yet the White House is apparently making no effort to conduct a contact tracing program to control the spread of the virus. New infections continue to pop up among those who attended including the pastor of a megachurch. Republican Senator Ron Johnson who is among those infected has echoed Trump’s nonchalance saying there is “unjustifiable hysteria” over the disease. But Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, who also tested positive and who has been quarantining himself has taken the opposite approach saying Trump was “irresponsible” to make his claims of being unafraid of Covid-19. Cases across the country are surging and medical experts expect 2,900 Americans a day to be dying from it by December.
Meanwhile Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has taken great pains to adhere to medical recommendations on Covid safety, has remained virus-free and able to continue campaigning. He said during a campaign visit to Florida that he was not surprised by the President’s diagnosis. Biden’s lead over Trump in the battle ground state of Arizona has widened where he now has 49% support compared to 41% for the president. A similar result in Michigan shows Biden leading Trump 48 to 39%. And in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin he leads Trump by 5 and 6 points respectively. Nationally Biden’s lead has grown to 16% over Trump. And, Biden released a new and lengthy campaign ad featuring former First Lady Michelle Obama making a lengthy 24-minute case for him as President. On Wednesday night the Republican and Democratic Vice Presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will debate one another – behind plexiglass as a safety precaution. A new report found that one quarter of all the media coverage of Kamala Harris being announced as Biden’s VP candidates was racist or sexist.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, in one of its first rulings of the new term sided with Republicans in South Carolina who are insisting that mail-in ballots have a witness signature in order to be counted. In a case brought by a clerk who refused to issue a marriage license to gay couple, conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas appeared to question the 2015 ruling that affirmed the rights of same-sex couples to marry. In other news the U.S. Senate has adjourned for two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic that has infected at least 3 Republican lawmakers. The adjournment is scheduled around Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s fast-tracked timeline to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett as a new Supreme Court justice ahead of the November 3rd election. McConnell required “unanimous consent” in order to adjourn and instead of using that as a chance to block his timeline, Democrats strangely assented. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has announced October 12th as the start date for the hearings.
A white Texas police officer has been arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of a Black man named Jonathan Price in Wolfe City. Mr. Price was apparently shot after he intervened when he saw a man assault a woman. The officer shot Price while the victim was walking away. He has been booked into a County Jail on a $1 million bail. And in two other incidents of officers killing Black Americans, the family of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky has asked a new special prosecutor to reopen her case and in Oakland, California, officials have reopened the case of the 2009 police killing of Oscar Grant.
And finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is being questioned over his extensive travels across the U.S. that happen to be largely in swing states and look a lot like the State Department’s open political interference in an election. Pompeo is a staunch Trump loyalist. And Trump’s son Eric was questioned by the New York Attorney General under oath in a secret deposition over a civil investigation into potential Trump organization fraud.