👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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🔥 Daily Damage Report.
🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,517,000; Total deaths: ~306,000; Total recoveries: ~1,622,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,432,000; Total deaths: ~87,000; Total recoveries: ~247,000
💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈
House Democrats plan to pass a $3 trillion coronavirus rescue plan late Friday. The House was also set to approve Friday a slate of changes enabling lawmakers to operate remotely during the pandemic, including proxy voting. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)
1/ Despite public health experts repeatedly cautioning that developing an effective coronavirus vaccine will take at least a year to a year and a half, Trump claimed that the coronavirus will “go away at some point” and declared – without evidence – that a vaccine would be ready “by the end of the year, maybe before.” Trump named a two-man team to lead his administration’s effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, saying Operation Warp Speed is currently evaluating 14 vaccine candidate. Trump urged state governments to reopen their economies regardless of whether the timeline was met, suggesting that the lack of a vaccine would not prevent the U.S. from reopening. “I just want to make something clear. It’s very important: Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” Trump said. “We’re starting the process.” Operation Warp Speed consists of Moncef Slaoui, the former head of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division, and Gen. Gustave Perna, a four-star U.S. Army general. Slaoui called Trump’s goal of a vaccine by January 2021 a “credible objective,” but acknowledged that “Frankly, 12-18 months is already a very aggressive timeline. I don’t think Dr. Fauci was wrong.” (CNN / Politico / CNBC / NBC News / New York Times)
2/ The CDC issued six, one-page checklists of recommendations to guide schools, businesses, restaurants and bars, child care centers and mass transit systems on how to safely reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. The White House coronavirus task force originally asked the CDC to revise a more extensive set of guidelines – which was about 57 pages – that the agency had prepared more than a month ago, calling it “overly prescriptive.” (Associated Press / Axios / Washington Post / Politico / Vox)
One of the world’s oldest and best-known medical journals urged Americans to elect a president who will support – rather than undermine – public health experts, criticizing Trump’s “inconsistent and incoherent national response” to the coronavirus pandemic. The unsigned editorial from the Lancet accused the Trump administration of relegating the CDC to a “nominal” role that is dangerous for both the U.S. and the world. (NPR / Washington Post)
Mitch McConnell admitted that he was wrong to claim that the Obama administration had not left behind a plan to deal with a pandemic in the U.S. The concession comes days after he falsely accused the Obama administration of failing to leave the Trump administration “any kind of game plan” for something like the coronavirus pandemic. Obama officials had prepared a 69-page document containing hundreds of recommendations for dealing with many of the problems currently plaguing the nation’s coronavirus response — from shortages of personal protective equipment to the need for unified public guidance on the crisis. (CNN / Politico)
3/ Trump called coronavirus testing “frankly overrated,” despite health experts insisting that it is critical to safely reopen businesses. The U.S. has more than 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases – the most of any country in the world. “We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing,” Trump said. “When you test, you have a case. When you test you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” Meanwhile, Trump praised the coronavirus rapid test used to screen White House staff and visitors, calling it “a great test,” despite a study finding that it may miss up to half of infections detected by other tests on the market.(The Hill / Politico)
4/ Betsy DeVos has directed millions of federal dollars intended for public schools and colleges to private and religious schools. DeVos used $180 million of the $30 billion for education institutions included in the CARES Act to create “microgrants” that parents can use to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. DeVos has used $180 million to encourage states to create “microgrants” that parents of elementary and secondary school students can use to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. She has also directed school districts to share millions of dollars designated for low-income students with wealthy private schools. About $350 million in higher education funding set aside for struggling colleges has instead been directed to small colleges — many of them private, religious or on the margins of higher education — regardless of need. (New York Times)
- The ACLU sued Betsy DeVos over new federal guidelines on how campus handle sexual assault allegations, alleging that the Title IX changes would “inflict significant harm” on victims, make it “more difficult for victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to continue their educations” and “dramatically undermine” their civil rights. (NBC News)
5/ U.S. taxpayers have paid at least $970,000 to the Trump Organization since Trump took office. The payments include more than 1,600 for room rentals at Trump’s hotels and golf clubs, including 950 nights at Bedminster and 530 nights at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has visited his own properties 250 times since taking office. The Secret Service, meanwhile, signed a $179,000 contract to rent golf carts and other vehicles this summer in Bedminster, N.J. (Washington Post)
- A company tied to Trump’s campaign manager received nearly $800,000 from the federal coronavirus relief fund for small businesses, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Brad Parscale has been CloudCommerce’s largest beneficial shareholder since 2017. He currently owns 35% of the company. (CBS News)
6/ Trump’s nominee to lead a federal media agency with oversight of Voice of America is under investigation by the District of Columbia’s attorney general. The D.C. attorney general’s office is investigating whether Michael Pack use of funds from his nonprofit, Public Media Lab, was “unlawful and whether he improperly used those funds to benefit himself.” Pack is a conservative filmmaker with ties to Stephen Bannon. (Washington Post)
poll/ 58% of Americans who are going to work fear that they could be exposed to the coronavirus and infect members of their household. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans have continued to leave the house for work at least once a week, and more than one-third of people still going to work said they or a household member has a serious chronic illness. 13% said they lack health insurance themselves. (Washington Post)
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