👋 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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😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,524,000; deaths: ~485,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,412,000; deaths: ~123,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
1/ The CDC estimated that the number of Americans infected with the coronavirus could be as high as 23 million — 10 times the 2.3 million currently confirmed cases. CDC Director Robert Redfield said the estimate is based on blood samples collected from across the country for the presence of antibodies. For every confirmed case of COVID-19, 10 more people had antibodies. Redfield added that between 5% and 8% of Americans have been infected to date. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that “It’s going away.” (Axios / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
Coronavirus cases are up 30% nationwide compared to the beginning of this month. While the Trump administration repeatedly claimed that case counts are up because the U.S. has increased testing, the assertions are not backed up by the data and the increase in positive cases cannot be attributed to the rise in testing alone. (Axios / ProPublica)
Coronavirus cases are rising in states with relaxed policies on wearing masks. In 16 states that recommend, but do not require, that residents wear masks in public new coronavirus cases have risen by 84% over the last two weeks. In 11 states that mandate wearing masks in public, new cases have fallen by 25% over the last two weeks. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Texas halted reopening as hospitals were inundated with “an explosion” of new COVID-19 cases and officials warned there might not be enough beds available. Hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties were ordered to stop nonessential procedures to make sure beds are available for coronavirus patients. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN)
2/ Dozens of U.S. Secret Service agents who worked at Trump’s rally in Tulsa were ordered to self-quarantine after two of their colleagues tested positive for the coronavirus. The Secret Service field office in Tulsa arranged a special testing session at a local hospital to determine which agents contracted the virus while working at the rally. The number of Secret Service personnel who have tested positive is still unknown because the agency refuses to divulge that information in order to “protect the privacy of our employees’ health information and for operational security.” A law enforcement official, however, said the number of quarantined agents is on the “low” side of dozens. (CNN / Washington Post)
3/ The federal government sent $1.4 billion in coronavirus stimulus checks to over a million dead people. The finding is part of a review of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Government Accountability Office. While the government has asked survivors to return the money, it’s not clear they’re required to. (NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post)
4/ Unemployment claims topped one million for the 14th week in a row after nearly 1.5 million workers filed new claims last week. An additional 728,000 workers filed for benefits from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Meanwhile, continuing claims fell below 20 million for the first time in two months. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNBC)
5/ The Supreme Court ruled that people seeking asylum from persecution have no right to a federal court hearing. The court’s 7-2 ruling allows the Trump administration to expedite the deportation of thousands of immigrants picked up at or near the border who have claimed to be escaping from persecution and torture in their home countries. A 2004 immigration policy targets any undocumented immigrant picked up within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of entering the country for quick deportation. The Trump administration has sought to expand a 2004 deportation policy so that undocumented immigrants anywhere in the U.S. can be picked up for any reason and quickly deported up to two years after their arrival. (NPR / ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)
6/ The Trump administration is discussing ending congressional review of weapons sales to foreign governments, because lawmakers from both parties have held up arms sales to Saudi Arabia over civilian casualties in Yemen. Under the current system, the State Department gives informal notification to relevant foreign policy committees in Congress of proposed arms sale and lawmakers can block sales. (New York Times)
7/ Trump’s nominee to take over the Manhattan federal prosecutors office refused to say whether he would recuse himself from pending investigations involving Trump’s interests and associates if confirmed. Trump nominated Jay Clayton — currently the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York after Geoffrey Berman was abruptly removed last week. Berman had pursued a number of investigations close to Trump’s inner circle, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. Appearing before a House Financial Services subcommittee, Clayton deflected questions about his nomination and the circumstances under which Berman was removed, characterizing the Senate confirmation process as “way down the road.” (Washington Post / Politico)
8/ A New York judge rejected an effort by Trump’s brother to block the publication of his niece Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough.” Queens County Surrogate Court Judge Peter Kelly cited “several improprieties” in Robert Trump’s filing that rendered it “fatally defective.” (The Guardian / Daily Beast / Washington Post)
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