👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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🔥 Daily Damage Report.
🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,248,000; Total deaths: ~291,000; Total recoveries: ~1,485,100. (Johns Hopkins University)
🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,367,000; Total deaths: ~82,100; Total recoveries: ~233,000
💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉
1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that reopening the country too soon “could turn the clock back” and lead to “suffering and death that could be avoided.” The nation’s top infectious diseases expert contrasted Trump’s effort to quickly restart the economy, saying “My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that then turn into outbreaks. The consequences could be really serious […] there is no doubt that when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases reappear.” Dr. Fauci added that the death toll is “almost certainly” higher than official counts. He also dismissed the notion that a vaccine would be available by the time schools reopen in the fall, calling it “a bit of a bridge too far.” He added: “There’s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective.” Dr. Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, and Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA, all testified by videoconference because they are self-quarantining after possible exposure to COVID-19. (Associated Press / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)
Rand Paul to Dr. Fauci: “I don’t think you’re the end-all” on coronavirus and “I don’t think you’re the one person who gets to make a decision.” Dr. Fauci replied: “I have never made myself out to be the end-all, or the only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence. … I don’t give advice about economic things. I don’t give advice about anything other than public health.” (Reuters / Axios)
Six takeaways from Anthony Fauci’s and other health officials’ testimony. (Washington Post)
2/ Yesterday: Trump declared that “we have prevailed” over the coronavirus as U.S. deaths from the disease exceeded 80,000. Trump later clarified that he meant the U.S. had “prevailed” only in creating enough testing capacity for Americans, saying “You never prevail when you have 90,000 people, 100,000 people, when you have 80,000 people as of today, when you have the kind of death you are talking about, when you have potentially millions of people throughout the world that are dying. That’s not prevailing.” Behind Trump were a row of American flags and a pair of giant signs reading: “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN TESTING.” (Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News)
An unreleased coronavirus task force report shows coronavirus infection rates are spiking to new highs in several cities and smaller communities across the country, contradicting Trump’s recent claims that “all throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly.” The undisclosed data in the May 7 report shows the 10 areas with the highest rates of infection — which includes Nashville, TN, Des Moines, IA, Amarillo, TX and Central City, KY — recorded surges of 72.4% or greater over a seven-day period when compared to the previous week. Central City saw an increase of 650%. (NBC News)
New York City had four times the number of deaths as expected during its COVID-19 outbreak. Between March 11 and May 2, about 24,000 more people died in the city than researchers would ordinarily expect during that time period, according to a CDC report. While COVID-19 was explicitly tied to 18,879 of the excess deaths through confirmed or probable cases, there were 5,293 excess deaths that may have come from other causes. (Associated Press / Bloomberg)
Mike Pence will be “maintaining distance for the immediate future” from Trump after consulting with the White House medical unit. It is not clear exactly how long Pence plans to stay away from Trump. Pence also said he has been taking extra precautions lately, including by spending time “in a separate room on my own” instead of joining other members of the coronavirus task force in the situation room. (CNN)
3/ Yesterday: Trump ended his press conference after he told an Asian-American journalist to “ask China” about her question and then refused to take a question from another White House reporter. After boasting about his administration’s efforts to ramp up testing, Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News, asked Trump why he sees coronavirus testing as a global competition when more than 80,000 Americans have died. Trump replied “maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question.” Trump attempted to move on to a question from Kaitlan Collins, a White House correspondent for CNN, but continued to engage with Jiang, calling her question a “nasty question” when she asked “why are you saying that to me specifically?” Trump then denied Collins an opportunity to ask a question before abruptly leaving the Rose Garden altogether. (CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post)
✏️ Senate Republicans break with Trump over “Obamagate.” Trump accused the former president of committing the “biggest political crime in American history.” (Politico)
✏️ Trump promotes conspiracy theory accusing MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough of murder. The president was apparently referring to the 2001 death of congressional staffer Lori Klausutis. (Politico)
4/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats unveiled a new $3 trillion coronavirus rescue bill that would direct money to state and local governments, health systems, and other initiatives. The bill would also send a second round of stimulus checks to millions of Americans and include more funding for the Postal Service. The House is expected to vote on the package Friday, while Trump and Senate Republicans object to the proposal. (Washington Post / Politico / ABC News)
5/ The Supreme Court heard the first arguments in a landmark dispute over access to Trump’s financial records and tax returns. The cases involve subpoenas for Trump’s financial records issued by three Democratic-led House committees and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to Trump’s banks and accounting firm, Mazars USA, and banks, Deutsche Bank, and Capital One. Lower courts in Washington and New York have upheld the subpoenas. The House argued that records about Trump’s businesses and personal finances could inform future legislation about foreign election interference, presidential disclosures, or money laundering. “We’re asking for temporary presidential immunity,” Jay Sekulow told the Supreme Court, suggesting that Trump could face legal consequences for his personal behavior after leaving office. The court’s ruling is expected by July. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / ABC News / Axios / CNBC / Washington Post / CNN / The Hill / CNN)
6/ Trump’s acting director of national intelligence declassified a list of names of former Obama administration officials who allegedly requested the “unmasking” of Michael Flynn’s identity, an action that identified him in intelligence reports following Trump’s election in 2016. Richard Grenell reportedly does not intend to release the list. The decision to declassify the information came days after the Justice Department moved to drop its criminal case against Flynn. A senior Justice Department official said the department has been reviewing unmasking as part of U.S. attorney John Durham’s review of the activities of investigators in 2016 and 2017 during the Russia probe. (ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
poll/ 54% of Americans say the Trump administration is doing a poor job preventing the spread of COVID-19, while 44% think the federal government is doing a good job. 52% said they feel the worst is yet to come. 44% said they think worst is behind us. (CNN)
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