5.14pm EDT 17:14 Hi there, it’s Maanvi – blogging from the west coast. We’re awaiting the White House coronavirus task force briefing. During the briefing yesterday, and subsequently on Fox News, Donald Trump repeatedly attacked the World Health Organization, alleging that it was late to act on coronavirus and that it was biased toward China.
Hi there, it’s Maanvi – blogging from the west coast.
We’re awaiting the White House coronavirus task force briefing. During the briefing yesterday, and subsequently on Fox News, Donald Trump repeatedly attacked the World Health Organization, alleging that it was late to act on coronavirus and that it was biased toward China. Trump threatened to stop funding the WHO, as his supporters called for the organization’s head to step down.
Without naming or addressing Trump directly, the WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, made a plea for solidarity, warning that politicizing the pandemic would result in “many more body bags”.
“When there are cracks at the national level and global level, that’s when the virus succeeds,” he said. “Please quarantine politicizing Covid. That’s the way if we want to win.”
Today so far
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee. Sanders pledged to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s campaign platform.
- More than 400,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the US. The national death toll has surpassed 14,000 and at least 1,939 people died of the virus yesterday, marking the deadliest day in the US since the crisis started.
- New York is starting to flatten its curve of coronavirus cases even as the state death toll continues to climb. New York’s “stay at home” order is having an impact on the number of coronavirus cases, governor Andrew Cuomo said, but yesterday’s death toll of 779 was the state’s worst single-day figure yet.
- Linda Tripp, who made the tapes of Monica Lewinsky discussing her relationship with Bill Clinton, has reportedly died. Tripp’s recordings of Lewinsky decribing the extramarital affair ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment. The former Pentagon civil servant had reportedly been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently.
Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Linda Tripp, who made Lewinsky tapes, has died – reports
Linda Tripp, who recorded Monica Lewinsky discussing her sexual relationship with then-president Bill Clinton, has died at 70, according to reports.
Tripp was a civil servant in the Pentagon when she became friends with Lewinsky and learned of her relationship with Clinton.
Tripp recorded Lewinsky discussing the extramarital affair, and the scandal ultimately led to Clinton’s impeachment, although he was later acquitted by the Senate.
Tripp was reportedly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer recently, and her daughter posted on Facebook last night that she was on her deathbed.
Lewinsky reacted to news of Tripp’s diagnosis earlier today, saying she hoped for her recovery.
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports on the latest from California:
Here are California’s latest numbers on coronavirus cases and deaths, as provided by governor Gavin Newsom:
- 16,957: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
- 1,154: The number of people in intensive care units, a 4.2% increase from the previous day.
- 2,714: The number of people who have been hospitalized, a 3.9% increase from the previous day.
- 442: The number of coronavirus deaths, including 68 in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day death toll yet.
Of the 6,306 cases analyzed by race:
- Latinx Californians made up 30% of cases and 29% of deaths.
- African Americans made up 6% of cases and 3% of deaths.
- Asian Americans made up 14% of cases and 16% of deaths.
While the state isn’t on safe ground, Newsom expressed optimism that the rate of transmissions and hospitalizations from the virus appears to have slowed. Experts expect numbers to peak next week.
Meanwhile, workers across the state are facing dire economic consequences from the pandemic. About 2.4 million Californians have filed for unemployment since March 13, Newsom said.
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports on the latest from California:
In states across the county, the racial make-up of those felled by the coronavirus has revealed alarming disparities for people of color.
A staggering 70% of deaths linked to coronavirus in Louisiana are African Americans — more than double the percentage of the state’s black population. Disparate numbers are emerging in other states across the south, including Georgia and Alabama.
Health experts worry the coronavirus is exacerbating already existing disparities within health outcomes. Blacks have disportionately high rates of asthma and hypertension and are more likely to work jobs that keep them out in the community.
Incomplete data in California hasn’t yet cut the same picture, but only 37% of the confirmed coronavirus cases have been disaggregated to provide a racial view.
Within those counted, the number of cases tracks roughly with the state’s demographic make up, California governor Gavin Newsom said in a Tuesday presser. But disparities could emerge as more data becomes available.
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports on the latest from California:
California governor Gavin Newsom is leading a charge to secure the needed protective equipment in the nation’s most populous state, levering the power of a mighty nation-state to help other states obtain what they need.
Speaking at a noon press conference, Newsom re-upped comments he told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow when he announced deals that have been landed with a consortium of nonprofits to provide 200 million medical masks a month for California and other states.
California plans to spend $990m in state funds on protective gear and has to make a down payment of about half that amount in the following days.
“We’ve been competing against other states, against other nations, against our own federal government for PPE — coveralls, masks, shields, N95 masks — and we’re not waiting around any longer,’’ he told Maddow yesterday. “We decided enough is enough: let’s use the power of the purchasing power of the state of California as a nation-state,” he added.
To reach its “audacious goal” of over 500m masks needed in California, the state is turning to community organizations and NGOs to plug into their PPE pipelines. It’s also looking to its contracts with large vendors, which has provided 41 m masks the state has already distributed.
The state is also tapping defense contractor Patel, which has manufactured technology that can clean and sterilize N-95, and make them ready for reuse. The technology, which can clean up to 80,000 maks a day, is expected to be ready next week,
“This is not a silver bullet, there are always challenges in anything we’re attempting of this scale”, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of California’s office of emergency services.
The White House has reportedly signaled opposition to Democratic requests for the next coronavirus relief bill.
Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that he would ask Congress to pass a bill allocating an additional $250 billion in small business loans. (The original stimulus bill gave $350 billion to small businesses, and those funds appear to be rapidly dwindling.)
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is taking up the request, but Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement today requesting that the bill also include $250 billion for hospitals and state and local businesses.
And by Wednesday afternoon, White House officials privately signaled opposition to Democrats’ efforts to add billions in funding for hospitals and state governments, sending the delicate bipartisan talks further into a tailspin. …
Republicans haven’t totally ruled out Democrats’ request and multiple officials familiar with the ongoing discussions said their demands could be addressed in future coronavirus legislation.
The debate over whether to allocate funds for hospitals and state and local governments could at the very least slow the bill’s passage, a disappointing prospect to the White House considering the administration wants to fast-track approval of the additional money for small businesses.
Congressman Thomas Massie signaled he would once again oppose any effort to pass a coronavirus relief bill by unanimous consent, which could force lawmakers to return to Washingtona as the city and the surrounding region see a surge of coronavirus cases.
The Trump administration is calling on Congress to pass a bill allocating an additional $250 billion in small business loans. The original stimulus package incuded $350 billion for small businesses.
“Once again, they’re recommending just let Nancy Pelosi pass it on her own, that we can all stay home,” Massie told Fox Business. “And I’m saying that’s not going to fly.”
Massie also opposed efforts to approve the stimulus package by unanimous consent, forcing House members to return to Washington to get the bill passed.
Many people, including the president, criticized Massie for the move, especially after several lawmakers who were present for the vote later said they had contracted coronavirus.
The Guardian’s Daniel Strauss reports:
Former vice president Joe Biden signaled that his campaign is moving into a different phase of picking a running mate after Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign earlier today.
During a fundraiser on Wednesday, Biden was asked whether he should announce a vice presidential nominee in June, after the final Democratic primary.
Biden, speaking a few hours after Sanders dropped out, said that “we are putting in place, we can do with abandon now, a mechanism being able to vet the vice-presidential potential picks.”
Biden said his team would start the process for picking a running mate in the next few weeks.
“In the coming weeks we’re going to put together before the end of the month, start looking at candidates and I’m looking for someone who will be a partner in this progress,” Biden said, according to a pool report of the fundraiser. “Someone who is simpatico, and someone who’s ready to be present on a moment’s notice.”
Americans are becoming less satisfied with the federal government’s response to coronavirus, according to a new Monmouth University poll.
A Monmouth poll released today showed 54% of Americans believe the federal government has not gone far enough to slow the spread of coronavirus. That’s up from 45% in late March. The portion of Americans who say the government’s actions have been appropriate has also decreased from 47% to 35%.
In comparison, 60% of Americans say the actions taken by state governments to slow the spread have been appropriate, while 30% say state governments have not gone far enough.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appears to be the most trusted public-facing official when it comes to delivering information on the pandemic.
Fauci was named by 35% of respondents as the most trusted official, in comparison to 23% for New York governor Andrew Cuomo and 20% for Trump.
Detroit mayor Mike Duggan said there were 26 more deaths in his city in the last 24 hours but said they “are seeing the line, the curve, beginning to flatten out”.
“This is the hardest part of this job,” Duggan said during Wednesday’s coronavirus press briefing. “But when you look at the trend lines this reinforces what I said yesterday; we’re seeing the beginning of a glimmer of light.”
Duggan presses that promising numbers should not mean any relaxation of the social distancing guidelines: “Do we care enough about each other that when it’s 67 degrees and sunny, we don’t go and gather together and give this virus new energy. Because we are starting to weaken it, and if we don’t give it new energy by clustering, we are going to continue to be successful.”
Broadway producers have extended the suspension of all shows through the first week of June per the latest medical guidance, according to a statement from the trade association representing producers and theater owners for the Great White Way.
“Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theatre industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals.” said Broadway League president Charlotte St Martin on Wednesday.
St Martin added: “Broadway will always be at the very heart of the Big Apple, and we join with artists, theatre professionals, and fans in looking forward to the time when we can once again experience live theatre together.”
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on an injustry that abruptly closed on 12 March after drawing 14.8m patrons and grossing $1.8bn last season. A number of shows planning spring openings have abandoned those plans entirely, including Hangmen and a revival of Edward Albee’s Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, while several others have moved to the fall.
“If we wait for a pandemic to appear, it’ll be too late to prepare.”
So said George W Bush in 2005. He read a book about the 1918-1919 flu pandemic and “became obsessed” with the idea that the US needed a comprehensive plan to prepare.
Resurfacing, here, this article from ABC a few days ago, spotted by the Guardian’s Oliver Conroy:
In the summer of 2005, President George W Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he began flipping through an advance reading copy of a new book about the 1918 flu pandemic. He couldn’t put it down.
Apparently some preps were made, others not, but a lot of work was done and has been in place ever since.
Bush declined, through a spokesman, to comment on the unfolding crisis or discuss the current response. But his remarks from 15 years ago still resonate.
“If we wait for a pandemic to appear,” he warned, “it will be too late to prepare. And one day many lives could be needlessly lost because we failed to act today.”
The White House is reportedly having discussions about reopening the economy next month, which could cause friction with health experts who have warned against lifting “stay at home” orders too quickly.
Officials said the options being discussed on reopening the country vary widely in scope, from recommendations on benchmarks for when individual states can begin easing restrictions to a nationwide ‘big bang’ that Trump previewed Tuesday evening on Fox News. The officials said the conversations were still preliminary and would likely evolve over the course of the next weeks.
Still, some officials have even begun mulling the type of event Trump may want to mark the day when nationwide restrictions are lifted after he suggested a ‘big celebration’ when the crisis is over. …
Multiple officials said this week the discussions could lead to a clash between health and economic advisers, who have disagreed over the past month on the extent and length of distancing recommendations for Americans.
Some of the president’s supporters also appear to be pushing for reopening the economy. Fox News host Laura Ingraham encouraged Trump to set a May 1 deadline for reopening in a tweet this morning.
Barack Obama called for a “robust system of testing and monitoring” to confront the coronavirus crisis.
The former president said social distancing practices were key to flattening the curve of coronavirus cases, but he empashized the country would not be able to relax those restrictions until a system of testing and tracking was in place.
The United States is now conducting nearly 700,000 coronavirus tests each week, but experts say that rate is not enough to sufficiently track the spread of the virus and allow the economy to reopen.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign, making Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. The Vermont senator promised to continue working to ensure progressive proposals are included in the party’s platform.
- New York broke its record for the highest single-day coronavirus death toll for the second consecutive day. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced 779 New Yorkers died of coronavirus yesterday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 6,268.
- The US had confirmed more than 400,000 cases of coronavirus. Yesterday was the deadliest day in the country’s crisis yet, with at least 1,939 Americans dying of coronavirus.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo ended his briefing where he started, by emphasizing the stark discrepancy between the state flattening the curve and simultaneously recording a record number of deaths.
“We are flattening the curve,” Cuomo said. “Thank God.”
But the governor reiterated that residents cannot get “complacent” about social distancing practices. “It’s what we’re doing that’s working,” Cuomo said. “Keep doing it.”
Cuomo said the good news of the curve flattening had to be kept in perspective of the awful news that 779 New Yorkers died of coronavirus yesterday.
“I went through 9/11,” Cuomo said. “That this should literally eclipse that in terms of number of deaths in this state — it’s unimaginable.”
New York’s coronavirus death toll of 6.268 is more than double the death toll from the September 11 attacks.
New York govenor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged that the state’s death toll may be understating the number of coronavirus victims because some people have been dying at home.
“I think that’s a very real possibility,” Cuomo said of a potential under-count.
The governor said the state is looking at other models to try to incorporate data about at-home deaths because most data points currently come from hospitals.