👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~11,923,000; deaths: ~547,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,036,000; deaths: ~133,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
1/ Trump threatened to cut federal funding if schools don’t fully physically reopen. Trump, however, lacks the authority to force schools to reopen and federal funding has already been appropriated by Congress. About 90% of school district budgets are raised by states and municipalities. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, claimed there is “no excuse” for schools not to reopen, saying “adults who are fear mongering and making excuses simply have got to stop doing it and turn their attention on what is right for students and for their families.” (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
Several states are suing the Department of Education over its decision to divert COVID-19 relief funding from K-12 public schools and give it to private schools. Attorneys general in California, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia have all joined the suit, which claims the DOE unlawfully interpreted the CARES Act by allowing school districts to receive funding based on the total student population instead of the total public school student population. The interpretation has lead tens of millions of dollars to be diverted from public schools in the poorest districts to private schools with tuition rates that are similar to private colleges. The suit specifically names Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as one of the defendants. (PBS News Hour)
Harvard and MIT sued the Trump administration over new rules barring international students from staying in the U.S. while taking classes online. The schools are seeking a temporary restraining order and an injunction preventing the government from enforcing the directive, arguing that the administration is trying to pressure institutions to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. (ABC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The CDC will issue new guidance on school openings after Trump called the existing guidelines too “tough,” “very impractical,” and “expensive.” Trump’s tweet about the CDC came minutes after he threatened to cut federal funding to schools that do not physically reopen. At a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Pence said the government would partner with school districts to figure out the best approach if they found the CDC guidelines a barrier to reopening. During the briefing, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the agency’s guidance “is intentional for reopening and keeping our schools open,” and should not be “used as a rationale to keep schools closed.” He added: “Clearly, the ability of this virus to cause significant illness in children is very, very, very, very limited.” However, later in the briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx clarified that the data is incomplete because the U.S. has not been testing enough children to conclude how widespread the virus is among people younger than 18 and whether they are spreading the virus to others. (Washington Post / NPR / Politico / New York Times / CNBC)
3/ The U.S. reported more than 60,000 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as the total number of confirmed cases crossed 3 million. The 60,021 reported cases set a record for new cases reported in a single day. After the coronavirus was first reported in the U.S. in January, the first million cases were reported over three months. The second million cases were reported over a period of about six weeks. It took less than a month for the case count to rise from 2 million on June 11 to more than 3 million. In the first five days of July, the U.S. has reported 250,000 new cases. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Politico / Bloomberg)
Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said. Tulsa County reported nearly 500 confirmed new cases on Monday and Tuesday. (Associated Press / Axios)
Pence touted “early indications” that coronavirus infections are starting to level off in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, which have each seen a surge of new infections in recent weeks. In Arizona and Florida, the seven-day average of tests that were positive has started to level off at about 20% and 17%, respectively. Texas’ testing positivity rate has remained steady at around 14% over the past few weeks. Trump’s health officials have suggested a positivity rate below 10% is desirable. Other public health experts say the goal should be 5% or lower. Pence, however, said the “takeaway for every American” was to “keep doing what you’re doing.” (Politico)
More than a fifth of Americans – about 71.5 million people – live in counties where the new highs in coronavirus cases was reached on Monday. (Washington Post)
4/ Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will retire from the U.S. Army after more than 21 years of military service over a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” by Trump. Vindman testified under subpoena last fall about his concerns surrounding a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the impeachment inquiry. He was up for promotion to colonel, but Trump instead fired Vindman from his White House National Security Council assignment following the testimony. (CNN / NPR / Washington Post)
5/ The Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s regulation to allow employers with religious objections to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide contraceptive care. An estimated 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose contraceptive coverage from their employers. Seventeen states challenged the policy as fundamentally unlawful and it’s rationale as “arbitrary and capricious.” Since 2010, all FDA-approved contraceptives have been included under the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers include “preventive care and screenings” as part of “minimal essential coverage” for Americans. In 2018, however, the Department of Health and Human Services exempted any employer with a religious or moral objection to contraception from the requirement. (ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)
- Chief Justice John Roberts was briefly hospitalized last month after falling while walking near his home. Roberts, 65, has reported having two previous seizures – one in 1993 and another 2007. A Supreme Court spokeswoman said doctors ruled out a seizure in the latest incident, saying Roberts was dehydrated. (Washington Post / CNN)
poll/ 60% of Americans said they found reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers to be “very” or “somewhat” believable, while 21% said they were not and the rest said they were unsure. 39% said they think Trump knew about Russia’s bounty program before it was reported in the news, while 26% said Trump didn’t know. (Reuters)
poll/ 91% of Americans believe racism and police violence are a problem in the U.S., with 72% deeming it is a serious one. 89% think police violence is a problem and 65% consider it serious. 47% disapprove of Trump’s response to the protests, while 31% approve. (The Guardian)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.