👋 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.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~13,927,000; deaths: ~594,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,623,000; deaths: ~139,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
1/ The U.S. recorded more than 75,600 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – the 11th time in the past month that a new record has been set. The previous single-day record, 68,241 cases, was announced last Friday. As of Wednesday, the seven-day average case number in the U.S. exceeded 63,000, up from around 22,200 a month ago, and the number of daily cases has more than doubled since June 24, when the country registered 37,014 cases. (New York Times / Reuters / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
2/ The White House blocked the CDC from testifying at a House hearing about reopening schools during the pandemic. The House Education and Labor Committee invited CDC Director Robert Redfield to testify before the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee on July 23 about safely reopening schools. The committee, however, was told – at the direction of the White House – that neither Redfield nor any other official would appear for testimony. A White House official later said: “Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response.” Separately, the CDC said more guidance for opening schools won’t be released until later this month. (Washington Post / Politico)
3/ White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed that “the science should not stand in the way” of sending American children back to school in the fall, but then claimed that “the science is on our side” and that the administration wants municipalities and states to “just simply follow the science, open our schools.” Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, however, found that one in four teachers risk becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19, and that around 3 million people over the age of 65 live in a household with a school-age child. (USA Today / The Guardian / NBC News)
4/ More than 25 U.S. states have issued statewide mask mandates. Face coverings will also be required at stores like Walmart, Target, and CVS, as well as in a number of Republican-led states where governors previously resisted issuing mask requirements. A handful of other states are also requiring visitors from high-infection areas to quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival. (New York Times)
Georgia’s governor sued Atlanta’s mayor from mandating masks be worn in the city to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The lawsuit, which names Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council as defendants, comes a day after Gov. Brian Kemp banned cities and counties statewide from implementing mask mandates. The lawsuit argues that Kemp has the power to “suspend municipal orders that are contradictory” to state laws or executive orders, challenging Bottom’s decision to take Atlanta back to “phase one” guidelines on July 10, which forced restaurants to close dining rooms and other restrictions — including the new mask mandate. Trump, meanwhile, arrived in Atlanta for a visit without wearing a mask. (Politico / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Axios / Associated Press)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein will introduce an amendment at the Senate’s next coronavirus relief stimulus bill that would withhold federal funding from states that don’t require residents to wear masks in public. “Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. Period,” Feinstein said. “My hope has been that other governors would show the leadership to institute their own mask mandates, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s time for Congress to step in.” 22 states currently have not issued statewide mask mandates for public settings. (Axios)
5/ The Trump reelection campaign is investigating spending irregularities during Brad Parscale’s tenure as campaign manager. Parscale, who controlled all campaign spending since January 2017, was recently demoted. Jared Kushner hired Jeff DeWit at the end of June to review the campaign’s operations, contracts, and spending. (Business Insider / [Readable Version Here])
6/ Trump’s properties made over $17 million from the Trump campaign and his fundraising committees since 2016. The payments to Trump’s business came in the second quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic was spreading, and were largely related to a Republican National Committee donor retreat at Mar-a-Lago resort in early March. (CNBC / David Fahrenthold – Washington Post)
7/ The Pentagon effectively banned displays of the Confederate flag on U.S. military installations. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the new policy in a memo, saying the “flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols.” The memo does not explicitly mention the word “Confederate” but instead states that the American flag is the “principal flag we are authorized and encouraged to display.” The memo also specifies 10 other flags that troops are authorized to fly. Esper’s new policy does not address the base-naming issue. Trump has previously rejected any notion of changing base names, and has defended the flying of the Confederate flag, saying it’s a freedom of speech issue. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Associated Press)
poll/ 64% of Americans don’t trust what Trump says about the coronavirus, while 34% say he’s credible. 63% say it’s more important to control the spread of the coronavirus than to restart the economy. 38% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the outbreak – down from 46% in May and 51% in March – while 60% disapprove – up from 53% in May and 45% in March. (ABC News / Washington Post)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.