The death of Republican figure and former presidential candidate Herman Cain yesterday, from coronavirus, came up at the White House press briefing, which just wrapped up.
It is not know exactly when, where or how Cain contracted Covid-19 but he had been in hospital for the past few weeks and his death was announced on his website and social media pages yesterday.
at 11.34am EDT
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is speaking at the podium during the ongoing briefing.
She took questions about Republican in-fighting holding up a deal to continue the special $600 weekly unemployment payment supplements the federal government has supplied as aid in the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which expire today.
McEnany said recent offers put forward by the GOP have been rejected by Democrats.
Dems want a comprehensive new aid package worth $3 trillion. The latest offer from the GOP focuses on a narrow, short-term continuation of those payments.
“How many proposals have the Democrats made? Zero,” she said. That’s not accurate.
Reuters reports that:
Negotiations over another coronavirus relief bill continue, the No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives said as a federal jobless benefit was set to expire on Friday with no sign of a deal between the White House and Democrats.
“We’re going to be negotiating every minute that is possible,” despite the Republican-led Senate’s adjournment for the weekend, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told MSNBC in an interview.
Lawmakers and the White House are at odds over efforts to further shore up the economy and manage the novel coronavirus pandemic that has left tens of millions of Americans out of work and killed at least 152,384 people in the United States.
In a meeting on Thursday night between top White House officials and congressional Democratic leaders, negotiations focused on an extension of the expiring unemployment benefit.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent senators home for the weekend without reaching a deal to extend the extra $600 per week unemployment benefits many received amid the outbreak.
According to a person familiar with the closed-door negotiations, the White House proposed reducing the $600 weekly payment to $400 for the next four months. While that was a move toward the demands of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, the source said they rejected it as insufficient.
On Thursday, Senate Republicans tried, without success, to pass a bill reducing the jobless benefit to $200 per week.
For weeks, McConnell has said that any deal with Democrats would require a shield for companies and schools from liability lawsuits as they reopen during the pandemic.
The source, who asked not to be identified, said the White House hinted that it could embrace a deal without that provision.
Besides the $600 “enhanced” payment, Democrats are seeking a wide-ranging economic stimulus bill that would include about $1 trillion in aid to state and local governments experiencing plunging revenues during the economic downturn.
In mid-May, the Democratic-controlled House passed a $3 trillion bill that the Republican-controlled Senate has ignored.
Crunch day for federal $600 weekly supplements for the unemployed in the coronavirus crisis
A White House press briefing is now belatedly underway. Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows is saying, in summary, no agreement yet in Washington about extending the $600 a week federal enhanced unemployment payments that are helping to keep at least 30 million Americans afloat right now.
The payments technically expire today. Talks late last night between leading Republicans and Democrats did not result in a deal. It’s crunch day.
My New York colleague Amanda Holpuch writes today:
For millions of unemployed Americans dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression a $600 payment each week from the government has been a vital lifeline, allowing them to keep their homes and put food on the table despite losing their jobs.
But now many of those hit hard by the economic disaster caused by the coronavirus pandemic are bracing for a steep drop in income this week as Republican party infighting delays a replacement for an expansion to weekly unemployment benefits, meaning many could have that vital lifeline cut or taken away.
at 11.05am EDT
Anthony Fauci sets out his “five basics” for curbing the spread of coronavirus.
Masks (yes), Crowds (no), Distancing (yes), bars (cheers, but nope), washing hands (yes).
He said that congregating in any crowds can increase the risk of catching Covid-19.
New York Democrat Nydia Velázquez pointed out that “it does not matter what you say if it’s undermined by the President of the United States.”
Further, on a vaccine, Fauci said he is “cautiously optimistic” that a US vaccine will be ready by the end of 2020. Distribution would then follow as 2021 unfolds.
He said he did not think other countries were ahead of the US in their research in any way that would mean the US would have to rely on other countries for a vaccine for Americans.
Then Fauci got into a spat with Republican Jim Jordan, who tried to lure Fauci into talking about the difference between gathering in church and gathering to protest, in the risks of spreading Covid, and what the government can or should do about both of those activities. Fauci wouldn’t take the bait. Urged folks to avoid all crowds.
at 11.18am EDT
Coronavirus vaccine: ‘Any American that needs it will get it,’ Fauci says
Republican representative of Indiana Jackie Walorski just asked White House coronavirus task force public health expert Anthony Fauci if it is “safe to say” that all Americans will be able to get a coronavirus vaccination once one is approved.
She said that she believed the question was a “when” not an “if” and saluted the cooperation between the government and the private sector in the coordinated mission to develop a successful inoculation as soon as possible.
Fauci said: “I believe ultimately, over a period of time…if we have, and I think we will have a safe and effective vaccine, that every American will be able to have it. Not immediately…but within a reasonable period of time.” He emphasized that the national plan to bring a vaccine to fruition quickly, Operation Warp Speed, “allows that any American that needs it will get it.”
Fauci said the process now being followed is rapid “but prudent”.
Walorski asked Fauci to promise that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates medicines, “is not compromising safety standards”.
Fauci explained that the National Institutes of Health (his employer) is leading the US vaccine studies with the variety of leading private sector pharmaceutical companies that are developing them, then when they have candidates “the FDA will make a determination on safety and efficacy” before such a vaccine is approved.
Walorski asked Fauci, again, to promise that “no way, no how is the FDA going to compromise safety standards?”
Fauci said: “The American public should be assured the proper steps will be taken” and “when the vaccine becomes available it will be important to take the vaccine.”
Fauci did not specify what he regarded as a reasonable period of time.
at 10.43am EDT
According to the Johns Hopkins University database, to which the Guardian pays closest attention, the death toll in the US from confirmed coronavirus cases passed the grim milestone of 150,000 on Wednesday of this week, six months after the first American case of coronavirus was confirmed in Washington state.
The latest toll is 152,075. Johns Hopkins updates its figures multiple times a day. It currently shows there are 4,495,375 cases of Covid-19 in the US.
Around the world, the case total is currently 17.3 million and a death toll of 673,936.
The US has the highest confirmed death toll in the world.
Calling time in Ohio.
Democratic committee chairman James Clyburn is showing a graph that depicts new coronavirus cases in the US rising sharply in recent weeks, while the European Union has plateaued and is going down.
He asks Fauci why the US infections are surging in so many states.
Fauci says 95+% of many European countries shut down their societies, while the US only locked down about 50% of its society as Covid was spreading.
“When we opened up the country [again], particularly in the southern states recently, you saw 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 new cases a day. It’s coming down a bit now.”
But he said that where federal health guidelines were not followed in the late spring – mandating or encouraging the universal wearing of face masks in public, social distancing and making sure infections had been declining steadily before reopening businesses, the surge in cases occurred.
Fauci has been repeating these basic facts for weeks. He finished by saying he believes “we can still turn this around”.
at 10.03am EDT
Assistant secretary for health, and the Trump administration’s coronavirus “testing tsar”, Brett Giroir, is giving his opening statement.
Committee chairman James Clyburn, in his blistering opening indictment of the government’s performance, criticized the lack of testing resources in the US that still prevails, and the slowness in those tested being able to get their results.
Giroir is rolling out numbers, millions of this and that, the kind of summary that doesn’t mean a whole lot to the average member of the public waiting in huge lines for a test in many states, with a long wait for results.
Here’s a withering report from Axios this morning on testing, the top of which says:
Testing is once again becoming a critical weakness in America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and experts say we may need to revive tighter standards about who can get a test.
Why it matters: Although testing has gotten a lot better over the course of the pandemic, the pandemic has gotten worse, and that means the U.S. needs to prioritize its resources — which might mean that frequent testing solely to help open businesses or schools just isn’t feasible.
Where it stands: The US is conducting more than 800,000 tests per day, on average — an enormous leap from the severe testing shortages the country experienced in the spring. But it’s still not enough to keep up with demand.
- Getting the results of a test often takes take longer than a week, and sometimes almost two weeks, which makes them a lot less helpful. The longer it takes to identify positive cases, the more time the virus has to spread.
- “That dramatic scale up is unprecedented, but demand has also been unprecedented,” said Julie Khani, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association.
at 9.54am EDT
Multiple candidate vaccines rapidly under development in US – Fauci
Public health expert Anthony Fauci says the US government has standardized and coordinated research around the efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine to combat coronavirus.
He called Covid-19 “a terrible scourge”. He added there are “multiple candidate vaccines that are moving along at a rapid pace”. He spoke of the federal overview of the process of testing in order to ensure the various parties “learn from each other”.
Representative Steve Scalise, the ranking (most senior) Republican on this special coronavirus committee, is on his opening statement and said: “The Chinese Community Party lied to the world” about the seriousness of Covid-19 when the coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China, at the turn of the year.
A quick update for our readers, the other witnesses, Robert Redfield and Brett Giroir, are at the hearing in person after all. There was a delay in their arrival.
The witnesses were just sworn in and Anthony Fauci, who has served six presidents as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has taken off his mask to deliver his opening statement.
The witnesses are sitting at a distance from each other and the hearing room is thinly populated, with many who would normally be there tuning in remotely.
Clyburn: coronavirus is ‘raging out of control’
House hearing chairman James Clyburn is on a scorcher of an opening statement.
He said that coronavirus is “raging out of control” in the US, while the White House has been “sidelining” its public health and science experts.
“We do not need to lose another 150,000 American lives” but says without urgent action it is “well within the realm of possibility”.
Clyburn pointed out that when the CDC recently devised guidelines on the tight measures needed to carefully reopen schools at the end of the summer break, “The White House pressured the agency to change their advice” to encourage full reopening for in-person teaching.
“The result is that the virus is raging out of control and our nation’s economic misery continues,” he said.
Clyburn called on the Trump administration immediately to come out with “a national plan that prioritizes science over politics”.
at 9.35am EDT
Clyburn: ‘Our nation is in the midst of a public health catastrophe’
Hearing chairman James Clyburn has opened the hearing with a scorching fact.
“Our nation is in the midst of a public health catastrophe”.
As the US death toll has now reached 152,075 and there are almost 4.5 million confirmed cases in the nation, Clyburn said the level of death and hospitalizations is “unacceptable”.
He slammed the Trump administration saying the government had “still not developed and implemented a national strategy to protect the American people”, after more than six months of the outbreak.
at 9.36am EDT
Coronavirus hearing on Capitol Hill gets underway
The chairman of this House special committee is Representative James Clyburn.
You may recall the member for South Carolina was pivotal in Democrat Joe Biden pulling ahead of Bernie Sanders in the primaries earlier this year, to sweep Super Tuesday and go on to become the presumptive nominee.
The committee is rumbling into action, some tech issues there this morning. Fauci is there in person, looks like Redfield and Giroir are attempting to tune in remotely.
Here’s my colleague Daniel Strauss on Clyburn and that moment.
The top US infectious disease expert and leading medic on the White House coronavirus task force, Anthony Fauci, told CNN last night that the nation needs to “pull out all the stops” to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said that if we do we will be getting towards having coronavirus under control in America. “If we do not we cannot make a prediction about how long this will last.”
The hearing this morning, which is running a few minutes behind (though Fauci is in place, in his Washington Nationals baseball mask, ready to testify), is a session of the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis.
The title today is: The Urgent Need for a National Plan to Contain the Coronavirus.
Here’s my colleague David Smith’s take on “testing tsar” Brett Giroir, who will be testifying alongside Fauci and Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
at 9.12am EDT
Key coronavirus hearing on Capitol Hill
This is Joanna Walters in New York taking over from my colleague Martin Belam in London. We’re awaiting the start of the latest coronavirus hearing in Washington at the top of the hour. Fauci, Redfield, Giroir. Stay tuned!