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Trump praises Senate stimulus deal and attacks US media – as it happened Trump praises Senate stimulus deal and attacks US media – as it happened
(about 13 hours later)
Trump said he will sign stimulus package ‘immediately’Trump said he will sign stimulus package ‘immediately’
Live coverage of the coronavirus in the US and American politics continues on Thursday’s blog:
Donald Trump continued to fixate on the idea that the country could scale back distancing measures within a fortnight, even as his top public health official, Anthony Fauci, signaled that the virus could be seasonal and resurge even after it abates.Donald Trump continued to fixate on the idea that the country could scale back distancing measures within a fortnight, even as his top public health official, Anthony Fauci, signaled that the virus could be seasonal and resurge even after it abates.
Senate leaders struggled to smooth over last-minute snags as they rush to pass a $2.2tn emergency relief package. Republican senators complained that the bill’s expansion of unemployment benefits would allow some to make more money on unemployment than they would if they were working. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, signaled that Congress would pass the bill, but the logistics of how remained unclear, especially with several representatives under quarantine.Senate leaders struggled to smooth over last-minute snags as they rush to pass a $2.2tn emergency relief package. Republican senators complained that the bill’s expansion of unemployment benefits would allow some to make more money on unemployment than they would if they were working. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, signaled that Congress would pass the bill, but the logistics of how remained unclear, especially with several representatives under quarantine.
New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, signaled early signs that physical distancing measures were working. But the number of cases and deaths in New York are continuing to mount.New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, signaled early signs that physical distancing measures were working. But the number of cases and deaths in New York are continuing to mount.
A Democratic debate in April looks unlikely. Though Joe Biden appears to be the presumptive nominee, Bernie Sanders is remaining in the race.A Democratic debate in April looks unlikely. Though Joe Biden appears to be the presumptive nominee, Bernie Sanders is remaining in the race.
More than 1m Californians filed for unemployment. Last week, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, asked residents to shelter in place, businesses to close down unless they provide essential services.More than 1m Californians filed for unemployment. Last week, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, asked residents to shelter in place, businesses to close down unless they provide essential services.
Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, died in Iranian custody, according to a statement from his family.Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, died in Iranian custody, according to a statement from his family.
The statement said Levinson’s family received the news from US officials but did not know how or when he died, only that his death preceded the coronavirus outbreak that has ravaged Iran.The statement said Levinson’s family received the news from US officials but did not know how or when he died, only that his death preceded the coronavirus outbreak that has ravaged Iran.
“It is impossible to describe our pain,” the statement said. “If not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and home with us today. It has been 13 years waiting for answers.”“It is impossible to describe our pain,” the statement said. “If not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime, Robert Levinson would be alive and home with us today. It has been 13 years waiting for answers.”
The family added they did not know if or when his body would be returned.The family added they did not know if or when his body would be returned.
Joe Biden is hosting a happy hour video chat, on issues facing young people. He doesn’t drink, he said – but he’d poured himself a cup of Gatorade.Joe Biden is hosting a happy hour video chat, on issues facing young people. He doesn’t drink, he said – but he’d poured himself a cup of Gatorade.
Asked what his guilty pleasure is, he said ice cream. but “after all these years, being known for Ray-Bans and ice cream is pretty dull”, he joked.Asked what his guilty pleasure is, he said ice cream. but “after all these years, being known for Ray-Bans and ice cream is pretty dull”, he joked.
His real guilty pleasure is driving his “’67 Corvette that’s been rebuilt”. The only thing he doesn’t like about having Secret Service protection these days is “I can’t drive my fast cars anymore.”His real guilty pleasure is driving his “’67 Corvette that’s been rebuilt”. The only thing he doesn’t like about having Secret Service protection these days is “I can’t drive my fast cars anymore.”
Top public health official Anthony Fauci said that the coronavirus could be seasonal and cyclical.Top public health official Anthony Fauci said that the coronavirus could be seasonal and cyclical.
“I know we’ll be successful in putting this down now. But we really need to be prepared for another cycle,” he said.“I know we’ll be successful in putting this down now. But we really need to be prepared for another cycle,” he said.
New York counties remain the most impacted by coronavirus, said Deborah Birx, the physician coordinating the White House coronavirus response. She encouraged New York residents who had traveled elsewhere to continue to self-isolate.New York counties remain the most impacted by coronavirus, said Deborah Birx, the physician coordinating the White House coronavirus response. She encouraged New York residents who had traveled elsewhere to continue to self-isolate.
“We have a role to protect one another,” she said. “To every American out there, when you protect yourself, you protect everyone else.”“We have a role to protect one another,” she said. “To every American out there, when you protect yourself, you protect everyone else.”
She referenced her grandmother who brought home a flu infection to her mother, who died in the 1918 pandemic. “For 88 years she lived with the fact that at age 11 brought home the flu to her mother,” Birx said. “She never forgot.”She referenced her grandmother who brought home a flu infection to her mother, who died in the 1918 pandemic. “For 88 years she lived with the fact that at age 11 brought home the flu to her mother,” Birx said. “She never forgot.”
The president remained fixated on how quickly he could get the country back to work.The president remained fixated on how quickly he could get the country back to work.
“It’s time. People want to get back to work,” he said, signaling that the administration would issue guidance in the coming fortnight. “I want to get our country back,” he said.“It’s time. People want to get back to work,” he said, signaling that the administration would issue guidance in the coming fortnight. “I want to get our country back,” he said.
He reassured reporters that he would heed the advice of public health officials. “I’m not going to do anything rash or hastily,” he said. “I don’t do that.”He reassured reporters that he would heed the advice of public health officials. “I’m not going to do anything rash or hastily,” he said. “I don’t do that.”
But he continued to negotiate what would be possible, musing that perhaps the US could have its cake and eat it, too — maintaining social distance while sending people back to work.But he continued to negotiate what would be possible, musing that perhaps the US could have its cake and eat it, too — maintaining social distance while sending people back to work.
“They’re not going to walk around hugging and kissing each other in the office when they come back,” he said. “Even though they may feel like it.”“They’re not going to walk around hugging and kissing each other in the office when they come back,” he said. “Even though they may feel like it.”
Trump repeated some of his favorite lines about a “big beautiful wall” and complained about Nato countries. His coronavirus briefings are beginning to look increasingly like his 2020 campaign rallies.Trump repeated some of his favorite lines about a “big beautiful wall” and complained about Nato countries. His coronavirus briefings are beginning to look increasingly like his 2020 campaign rallies.
“We don’t have to test the entire state in the Middle West,” Trump said, suggesting that areas of the country were barely affected. “I think it’s ridiculous.”“We don’t have to test the entire state in the Middle West,” Trump said, suggesting that areas of the country were barely affected. “I think it’s ridiculous.”
Public health experts said that the surest way out of the pandemic is to test widely and to continue social distancing measures.Public health experts said that the surest way out of the pandemic is to test widely and to continue social distancing measures.
Addressing a recent tweet in which he claimed that the media was inflating the crisis, Trump doubled down. “I think there are certain people who would like [the country] to do financially poorly,” he said, in order to tank his chances of reelection.
“I think it’s very clear that there are people in your profession who write fake news,” he said, pointing out individual reporters in the briefing room. “You do, she doesn’t,” he said.
The treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin – who negotiated the stimulus package with Senate leaders late into the night – said he expects that it will sustain the economy for about three months.
Trump added that if more economic relief is needed, it will come: “If we have to go back, we will go back.”
Mnuchin said he hopes the bill will pass the Senate tonight, and predicted that “within the next three weeks”, Americans who qualify for direct payments would get their direct deposits or checks.
Trump also confirmed that he’ll sign the stimulus package “immediately” when it gets to his desk, adding that he’ll have a “beautiful” signing.
The $2tn coronavirus bill moving through the Senate will re-energize the economy, Trump said, urging Congress to pass the “vital legislation”.
Soon, the president reiterated – contradicting public health experts – the country will open up “like a rocket ship”. The sooner it happens, the better, he said.
“We’re also doing some very large testings throughout the country,” Trump said, boasting that the US has done more tests than South Korea.
But South Korea, which has a much smaller population, has administered more coronavirus tests per capita.
Still, Trump claimed that South Korea’s president told him that US testing has been “amazing.” Later, he said he spoke with New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who was “very happy,” according to Trump. “It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing,” he said.
New York “is by far the hottest spot,” Trump said, referring to the rising number of cases in the state. He said he’s been working with the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo.
“I want you to know that I’m doing everything in my power to help the city pull through this challenge,” he said. He called the Defense Production Act — which allows the government to compel private companies to produce critical medical supplies — a “great negotiating tool”.
“I don’t have to use it very much at all,” he said, referencing companies that have voluntarily pitched in to increase production of key supplies. Cuomo has repeatedly raised alarm over a lack of face masks and other protective equipment available at New York hospitals.
“Social distancing, so important,” Donald Trump began. “Such an important phrase.”
He repeated his wish that “some sections of the country” return to normalcy earlier than others. “The more lives we can save and the sooner we can eventually get people back to work, back to school and back to normal - and there are large sections of our country probably can go back much sooner than other sections, and we’re obviously looking at that also,” he said.
Donald Trump has continued to ignore public health experts imploring Americans to continue observing physical distancing as the number of coronavirus cases spike across the country.
Ahead of the Coronavirus Task Force briefing, he blamed the media for “trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success”.
Experts said it’s too soon to ease distancing measures, even as the president insisted yesterday he wanted to reopen the country for business by Easter. A spike in cases would drive up the coronavirus death toll, further strain hospitals, and set the economy back even further, per public health officials, including the senior official Dr Anthony Fauci.
Still, as his task force briefing runs late, delayed by 30 minutes, then 45 and then an hour, the president continued to tweet, railing against “the fake news”.
Hi there, it’s Maanvi Singh blogging from California.
We’re awaiting a briefing from the Coronavirus Task Force, which is scheduled to begin shortly. In the meantime, this story from the Washington Post caught our eye.
Foreign ministers representing the G-7 nations failed to agree on a joint statement after the Trump administration insisted on referring to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus”, the Post reports, citing anonymous officials from G-7 counties”
The CDC and WHO have both warned against describing the virus in geographic terms, especially amid rising reports of discrimination against Asian Americans.
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports from California:
Addressing a state on lockdown, California governor Gavin Newsom told residents he doesn’t expect to lift the stay-at-home order in the coming days, or even weeks, as he urges California to prepare for the long-haul. Any estimates that the state would reopen in early April is optimistic, at least for California, Newsom has said, countering projections offered by Donald Trump.
Part of the reason it’s difficult to establish a more specific timeline is a lag in testing that muddies the true scope of how many in California have been infected.
The number of tests administered in the state jumped to 66,800 tests, up from 39,000 yesterday. Newsom said that’s a result of having private labs, like Quest Diagnostics, reporting results in a more uniform fashion.
The state also appears to be making headway in its effort to shelter those living on the streets. To that end, the state has now procured 4,305 hotel rooms to be used for shelter.
Asked to provide clarity on whether gun stores in California should be considered essential, and therefore remain open, Newsom deferred to local sheriffs to make the call. It’s remained a murky area of the law. Police in San Jose last week closed a gun store and told them they’d have to apply for a waiver from DOJ if they wanted to operate.
California Congresswoman Katie Porter announced on Wednesday that she is self-quarantining after experiencing symptoms related to CONVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
At least two members of Congress and one US senator have tested positive for the virus, while more than a dozen are self-quarantined after brushes with people who have symptoms or have tested positive for the disease.
On Wednesday, Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton said he and his wife are also experiencing symptoms.
This comes as Congress aims to rush immediate financial assistance to workers and businesses as the economy careens toward recession. Some House leaders had hoped to pass the bill – after it is approved by the Senate – by “unanimous consent” which would preclude members of Congress from having to come back to Washington to vote on the legislation.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday disagreed with the approach while progressive star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested she too might object.
“I know we’re in a very challenging time, I know we have members who are quarantined, members who are battling the virus, members in New York City who could not travel here without 14 days, but I don’t believe we should pass a $2 trillion package by unanimous consent,” he told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday.If one lawmaker objects, it would prevent passage under the rules and members would be called back.