👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~13,201,000; deaths: ~576,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,407,000; deaths: ~137,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
An experimental coronavirus vaccine has been found to trigger an immune response with mild side effects – fatigue, chills, headache, and muscle pain –– in all 45 participants in the first human tests. Whether that immune response, however, is enough to protect someone from the coronavirus remains unclear. (Washington Post / USA Today / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
1/ The Trump administration rescinded its rule barring international students from living in the U.S. while taking classes online this fall. The policy change, issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, required international college students to take at least one in-person class or leave the country. The White House will instead apply the rule to new students. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia, and Harvard University and MIT sued the administration over the requirement. (NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Bloomberg / Washington Post)
2/ Ivanka Trump announced a White House-backed ad campaign that encourages people who are unemployed due to the coronavirus to “find something new.” The campaign, which encourages people to “learn a completely new skill,” has reportedly been in the works for some time, but gained new urgency after efforts to slow the coronavirus outbreak left millions of people unemployed. Meanwhile, the federal program that provides a $600-per-week increase to unemployment benefits will expire in less than two weeks. More than 30 million people receive this benefit. Trump and White House officials have argued the $600-per-week unemployment bonus disincentivizes people from working. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)
3/ The Trump administration ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC and send all coronavirus patient information to a central database maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS will collect daily reports about patients each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and more. Officials claimed that the change will streamline data gathering and assist the White House coronavirus task force in allocating supplies. The HHS database, however, will receive information that is not available to the public, which could affect the work of researchers, modelers, and health officials who rely on CDC data to make projections and public health decisions. The Trump administration has also asked governors to send the National Guard to hospitals to collect data about coronavirus patients, supply, and capacity. Hospital industry leaders say any issues with data collection lie primarily with HHS and the administration’s constantly changing instructions. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)
4/ Four former CDC chiefs rebuked Trump’s “repeated efforts to subvert” CDC guidelines. In a Washington Post op-ed, Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher, and Richard Besser accused Trump of undermining science with “partisan potshots,” arguing that his “extraordinary” efforts to diminish the agency’s guidance were contributing to a resurgence of coronavirus cases across the United States. They said they “cannot recall over our collective tenure a single time when political pressure led to a change in the interpretation of scientific evidence.” (Axios / Politico / CNBC)
- The Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar rejected Trump’s suggestion that public health officials are liars. “Look, we may occasionally make mistakes based on the information we have, but none of us lie. We are completely transparent with the American people,” Adm. Brett Giroir said. Giroir’s remarks came after Trump retweeted a conservative former game show host, who wrote: “Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust.” (TODAY / Politico)
5/ The Strategic National Stockpile may not have the capacity to supply medical professionals with personal protective equipment. Between FEMA and the stockpile, the U.S. has 56 million N-95 or KN-95 respirators in reserve after sending out more than 130 million masks since the COVID-19 crisis began. There are fewer than 900,000 gloves in the reserve after shipping 82.7 million earlier this year. Hospitals, meanwhile, are looking ahead and securing supplies of drugs for treating COVID-19 that have been found effective for some patients, including the dexamethasone and remdesivir, should a second wave of the virus threaten drug shortages. The administration has also struggled to procure body bags. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
6/ A record 4.5 million Americans lost health insurance between February and May. More adults have lost coverage due to job losses during that three-month period than in any one-year period in history. A study conducted by the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families U.S.A. found that the estimated increase in uninsured laid-off workers over the three-month period was nearly 40% higher than the highest previous increase during the 2008 to 2009 recession when 3.9 million people lost insurance. “This is the worst economic downturn since World War II,” said the author of the study. “It dwarfs the Great Recession.” (New York Times)
7/ A Mexican immigrant died after contracting COVID-19 while in ICE custody. Onoval Perez-Montufa is the third known ICE detainee to die of COVID-19 complications. More than 3,180 immigrants have tested positive for the coronavirus while in ICE custody, according to the agency’s latest statistics. At least 949 detainees who tested positive remain detained and have been placed in isolation or are under monitoring. Some have been deported or released. (CBS News)
8/ A New York judge lifted the temporary restraining order that prevented Mary Trump from discussing her tell-all book about her uncle Donald Trump. The book is scheduled to be released today. The order did not apply to the book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, which planned to go ahead with publication regardless of the lawsuit. The judge’s decision allows Mary Trump to do interviews promoting the book. (Axios)
9/ When asked why Black Americans are still being killed by police, Trump responded: “So are white people.” In an interview with CBS News, Trump said the killing of George Floyd was “terrible” but asserted that “more white people” are killed by police before calling the question “a terrible question to ask.” Statistics show that while more white Americans are killed by the police over all, minorities are killed at higher rates. A 2018 study found that Black men are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than white men. Another study published in late June found that Black people were three times more likely to be killed by law enforcement officers than white people. In the same interview, Trump defended his attacks on the movement to take down Confederate statues and symbols by claiming that it’s a “freedom of speech” issue. (CBS News / Axios / New York Times)
poll/ 71% of American parents say it would be risky to send their children back to school in the fall, including a majority of Republicans. (Axios)
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