CDC Director Robert Redfield told the Financial Times that the rapid spread of coronavirus in the southern hemisphere suggests it is likely to flare up again in the US this autumn and winter, raising the possibility of a second round of lockdowns this year.
The warning from the CDC chief comes despite repeated efforts by President Donald Trump to convince Americans the worst of the pandemic is over, arguing the country was “transitioning to greatness”.
Wall Street Journal: “Nearly half of adults live in households that have lost income in the two months since the coronavirus pandemic led to a nationwide economic shutdown and more than a third expect to lose income over the next four weeks, the Census Bureau said in a new report.”
“Workers filed another 2.4 million unemployment claims last week, continuing a wave of historically high filings since the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic began,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Bloomberg reports about 38.6 million initial unemployment insurance claims have been filed since the pandemic began.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote to President Trump requesting that he order flags to be flown at half staff on all public buildings on the sad day of reckoning when we reach 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disregarded the advice of high-level officials at the State Department, Pentagon and within the intelligence community in invoking an emergency waiver last year to circumvent congressional review of billions of dollars in arms sales to the Gulf,” Politico reports.
“That decision was under investigation by a government watchdog who was fired last week at Pompeo’s urging, and it has fueled renewed accusations from lawmakers that the Trump administration bucked the will of Congress and even violated the law when it fast-tracked the weapons sales.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised House Republicans that the beefed up unemployment benefits enacted earlier this spring “will not be in the next bill,” Politico reports.
“Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’s pushing Trump to get behind a plan to pump more money into infrastructure projects — even though that idea has gotten an icy reception from McConnell so far,” CNN reports.
Said Graham: “I want to do infrastructure. I told Trump, this is the time. We got it teed up. This is the time to go big. … It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give a facelift to the country.”
“Graham isn’t alone. Other powerful members of the Senate GOP Conference, including two committee chairmen — Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Roger Wicker of Mississippi — want to move on an infrastructure package to pump money into roads, bridges and transportation projects.”
New York Times: “If the United States had begun imposing social-distancing measures one week earlier in March, about 36,000 fewer people would have died in the pandemic, according to new estimates from Columbia University disease modelers.”
“And if the country had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact on March 1, two weeks earlier than when most people started staying home, a vast majority of the nation’s deaths — about 83 percent — would have been avoided, the researchers estimated.”
Abigail Tracy, writing for Vanity Fair: “The outrage over the firing of Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general, was in a word: predictable. As the latest in Donald Trump’s so-called purge of inspectors general across the administration, Democrats’ fiery condemnations and the tempered Republican criticisms from the usual suspects on the right—Senators Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Chuck Grassley, a longtime oversight advocate—felt choreographed. The steady drip of revelations potentially tying Linick’s dismissal to Mike Pompeo’s leadership of the State Department, coupled with questionable cameos by his wife, Susan, however, have been less expected—if not entirely surprising. But while the inspector general’s ouster may have sparked a deluge of questions about whether it was retaliatory in nature, Pompeo’s problems are really rooted in his own political ambitions.”
Said one former State Department official: “It’s just so extreme. He’s using the institution to clearly advance his own personal interests.”
“In Donald Trump’s world, this is a line you’re not supposed to cross. The ultimate user, he doesn’t like to be used.”
“Delinquencies among borrowers for past-due mortgages are soaring, a sign that Americans are struggling to pay their bills due to a wave of layoffs or lost income from the coronavirus pandemic,” USA Todayreports.
“At 6.45%, the national delinquency rate nearly doubled from 3.06% in March, the largest single-month increase ever recorded, and nearly three times the prior record for a single month during the height of the financial crisis in late 2008.”
New York Times: “Mr. Trump, who has mounted a yearslong attack on the intelligence agencies, is particularly difficult to brief on critical national security matters.”
“The president veers off on tangents and getting him back on topic is difficult, they said. He has a short attention span and rarely, if ever, reads intelligence reports, relying instead on conservative media and his friends for information. He is unashamed to interrupt intelligence officers and riff based on tips or gossip he hears from the former casino magnate Steve Wynn, the retired golfer Gary Player or Christopher Ruddy, the conservative media executive.”
“Mr. Trump rarely absorbs information that he disagrees with or that runs counter to his worldview, the officials said. Briefing him has been so great a challenge compared with his predecessors that the intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to study how better to present information to him.”
Illinois state Rep. Darren Bailey (R) was removed from the state legislature after refusing to comply with a rule requiring all lawmakers to wear masks during the special session, NBC Chicago reports.
After the State House voted overwhelmingly to adopt the rule, Rep. Chris Welch (D) made a motion to remove Bailey from the House proceedings. After Bailey refused to put on a mask, the House voted 81-27 to remove him from the chamber.
A must-read from the Wall Street Journal: “March 16 was the day a microscopic virus brought the financial system to the brink. Few realized how close it came to going over the edge entirely…”
“The financial system has endured numerous credit crunches and market crashes, and memories of the 1987 and 2008 crises set a high bar for market dysfunction. But longtime investors and those who make a living on Wall Street say mid-March of this year was far more severe in a short period. Moreover, the stresses to the financial system were broader than many had seen.”
Guidance for reopening houses of worship amid the coronavirus pandemic has been put on hold after a battle between the CDC and the White House, which was resistant to putting limits on religious institutions, the Washington Post reports.
“Almost immediately after special counsel Robert Mueller closed his investigation last year, Attorney General William Barr was huddling with the prosecutor he assigned to re-examine the Russia probe — in a series of meetings that haven’t been previously known and appear to highlight Barr’s drive to rewrite the legacy of the Mueller investigation,” CNNreports.