👋 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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😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,696,000; deaths: ~492,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,454,000; deaths: ~125,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
1/ The United States set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases for the third time in three days, passing the 40,000 mark for the first time. Five states set new single-day highs and 11 states set their own records for the average number of new cases reported over the past seven days. (Washington Post / NPR / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)
Florida reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, surpassing its previous single-day record of 5,511 reported on Wednesday. The coronavirus has now infected 122,960 people in Florida – with 29,163 new cases over the last seven days – and killed at least 3,327 people. The state’s former leading COVID-19 data scientist, meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis of “cooking the books” in an effort to hide the impact of the pandemic. (Miami Herald / CNBC / Axios / The Guardian / New York Times / Politico)
Texas rolled back reopening plans after reporting 5,996 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, which beat Wednesday’s record of 5,551. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars to close and restaurants to scale back capacity to 50%. (Texas Tribune / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The White House coronavirus task force held its first briefing in two months, as Pence took a victory lap, saying “We slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we saved lives.” While Pence acknowledged that cases have been rising “precipitously” in some states, he argued that Americans are seeing “encouraging news” despite cases surging because all 50 states – he claimed – “are opening up safely and responsibly.” Pence insisted “this moment is different” than two months ago, suggesting “We’re in a much better place” because “the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country.” Pence also defended Trump’s decision to resume holding campaign rallies, claiming “The freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, is enshrined in the constitution of the United States […] Even in a health crisis, the American people don’t forfeit our constitutional rights.” He added: “And we have an election coming up this fall.” (NPR / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Hill)
- Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the coronavirus outbreaks largely in the South and West could spread across the U.S. The nation’s top infectious diseases expert pleaded for Americans to practice social distancing and mask wearing, saying “You have an individual responsibility to yourself but you have a societal responsibility.” The Trump administration is also weighing testing groups of people together. “Pool testing” could help officials test more people with fewer resources. (New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act as the U.S. has recorded more than 120,000 deaths from COVID-19, with nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases. In an 82-page brief submitted an hour before the midnight deadline, the Trump administration said that “the entire ACA must fall,” arguing that the individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional after Congress ended the financial penalty for not having health insurance in 2017. If the court agrees, more than 23 million Americans would lose health care coverage. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NPR / Politico)
4/ Trump canceled his planned trip to his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J. The White House claimed the cancellation “had nothing to do” with a state order mandating a 14-day quarantine for visitors who have been in states with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. The weather forecast, however, showed that thundershowers are expected throughout the area this weekend. Hours later Trump tweeted that he canceled the trip to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.” (CNBC / Politico)
5/ The European Union will block most travelers from the United States, Russia, and other countries considered too risky because they have not controlled the coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. banned most European Union travelers in March, but has not eased its restrictions, even though European infections and deaths have dropped. The ban goes into effect on July 1. (New York Times)
poll/ 76% of Americans are concerned about being infected by the coronavirus – up from 69% in early June. 56% of Americans believe the U.S. is reopening the economy too quickly, while 15% say the economy is reopening too slowly, and an additional 29% believe the economy is being reopened at the right pace. (Ipsos / ABC News)
poll/ 89% of Americans who left their home in the last week said they wore a face mask or a face covering, compared to only 11% who said they did not. (ABC News)
poll/ 40% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 58% disapprove – an all-time high. In a hypothetical general election matchup, Biden leads Trump by 8 percentage points – 52% to 44%. (NPR)
poll/ 58% of Americans said racism is “a big problem” in America, while 41% said racism is “somewhat,” a “small problem,” or “not a problem at all.” (Kaiser Family Foundation)
The Trump administration does not have the authority to use military funding to pay for construction of a border wall, a federal appeals court ruled. In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said that diverting $2.5 billion Congress had appropriated for the military violated the Constitution and is unlawful. Congress holds the authority to appropriate money. (NBC News / CNN / Los Angeles Times)
The House voted to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. – the first time Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as a state. The White House, however, confirmed that it opposes statehood, and Mitch McConnell said he will not bring the legislation to a vote in the Senate. (New York Times / Washington Post)
The head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers will depart at the end of June. Tomas Philipson last appeared publicly at the White House in early June, when Trump boasted about the latest job numbers. (Politico)
The House passed an expansive policing reform bill aimed at combating racial discrimination and excessive use of force in law enforcement. The measure bans police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug-related cases, while lowering legal standards to pursue criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct. Republicans said the bill is a federal overreach into policing that will never pass the Senate, and the White House has threatened a veto. (New York Times / NPR)
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