👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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🔥 Daily Damage Report.
🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,321,000; Total deaths: ~237,000; Total recoveries: ~1,044,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,095,000; Total deaths: ~64,200; Total recoveries: ~160,000
💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉
The FDA granted Gilead emergency authorization for remdesivir to treat coronavirus. A federal trial found that patients receiving remdesivir recovered more quickly: in 11 days, versus 15 in a group receiving a placebo. The drug did not significantly reduce fatality rates. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / New York Times)
At least 30 states have started allowing some businesses to operate or announced plans to do so in May. The reopening of America, however, is happening with little consensus on how it should proceed with state and local officials — and, in some cases, business owners — drawing their own conclusions about how to balance medical and economic risks. (Wall Street Journal)
The World Health Organization extended its declaration of a global health emergency. (New York Times)
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to last at least another 18 months and won’t be controlled until about two-thirds of the world’s population is immune, said a report by a team of longstanding pandemic experts. They recommended that the U.S. prepare for a worst-case scenario, including a second big wave of coronavirus infections in the fall and winter. In the best-case scenario, people will continue to die from the virus, they predicted. (CNN / Bloomberg)
1/ Trump is “in no rush” to provide federal assistance to states that are short of money because of the coronavirus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said states and localities are seeking about $1 trillion in assistance as part of the next stimulus bill. Trump, however, indicated that Democrats would have to make concessions if they want grants for state governments, saying “If they do it, they’re going to have to give us a lot.” (Bloomberg)
2/ Attorney General William Barr said it’s time “to start rolling back” social distancing restrictions in an “orderly and sensible way,” a signal the Justice Department could consider legal action against officials who resist acting. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted support for protesters – some of whom were armed – in Michigan, telling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to “make a deal” with them. Last month, Trump tweeted to “LIBERATE” Michigan. (Bloomberg / CNN)
3/ The White House is blocking Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying before the House Appropriations Committee, which is investigating the coronavirus outbreak and response. The Trump administration officials denied the request for Fauci’s testimony at a hearing next week. (Washington Post / Politico)
4/ Mike Pence’s office threatened to retaliate against the journalist who revealed that Pence’s staff aware of the requirement to wear face masks while visiting the Mayo Clinic. Pence was the only one in the room not wearing one during his visit, despite the Minnesota clinic requiring all visitors to wear masks to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Karen Pence claimed that Pence wasn’t aware of the rule until after the visit, but reporter Steve Herman tweeted that “All of us who traveled with [Pence] were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly.” Pence’s office contacted Herman, saying he violated the off-the-record terms that had been sent to him and other reporters before the trip and then banned him from traveling on Air Force Two unless Herman apologizes for his tweet. On Thursday, Pence wore a face mask while visiting a General Motors plant that is making ventilators. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / Axios)
- 📌 Day 1195: Pence toured the Mayo Clinic without a mask despite the medical facility requiring all visitors wear masks to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The clinic tweeted, then deleted the tweet, that Pence’s office was informed of the masking policy prior to his visit. (CNBC / NBC News / The Guardian / New York Times)
5/ Publicly traded companies received more than $1 billion in funds meant for small businesses from the economic stimulus package. Nearly 300 public companies have reported receiving money from the Paycheck Protection Program. (Washington Post)
6/ The Secret Service paid more than $33,000 to rent rooms at Trump’s Washington hotel for 137 nights in a row so it could guard Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin while he stayed in a luxury suite. The Secret Service also rented the room next to Mnuchin’s at taxpayer expense so they could screen Mnuchin’s visitors and deliveries. For that room, the Trump International Hotel charged the Secret Service at the maximum possible rate for federal agencies in 2017: $242 per night. The total bill for both rooms was $33,154. Mnuchin paid for his own room, but his decision to stay at a Trump property produced two revenue streams for Trump’s company. “The Secretary was not aware of what the U.S. Secret Service paid for the adjoining room,” a spokesperson for Mnuchin said. (Washington Post)
7/ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held the first daily news briefing in more than a year. “I will never lie to you,” McEnany promised reporters. “You have my word on that.” Fifteen minutes later, she raised the subject of Michael Flynn, which no one had asked about, and offered a false claim that an FBI note “says, quote, we need to get Flynn to lie, quote, and get him fired.” The FBI note, however, is phrased as a question of possible ways of confronting Flynn – not a plan of action: “What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” McEnany is Trump’s fourth press secretary. (Washington Post / NPR / CNN / New York Times)
poll/ 43% of Americans hold mostly or very favorable views of Trump, compared to 54% who hold mostly or very unfavorable views of him. In mid-March, Trump’s favorable rating was 49%, the highest at any point since 2015, and the first time that Americans have been more likely to say they have a favorable than the unfavorable view 46%. (Public Religion Research Institute)
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