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Trump attacks plan to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ outside his New York City home – live | US news


Arizona recorded more coronavirus deaths, infections, hospitalizations and emergency-room visits in a single day than ever before in a crisis, in a day across the Sunbelt that sent a shudder through other parts of the country and led distant states to put their own reopening plans on hold.

“Put a mask on it”Vice President Mike Pence waves as he arrives to meet with Arizona governor Doug Ducey to discuss the surge in coronavirus cases.

“Put a mask on it”

Vice President Mike Pence waves as he arrives to meet with Arizona governor Doug Ducey to discuss the surge in coronavirus cases. Photograph: Ross D Franklin/AP

In Florida, hospitals braced for an influx of patients, with the biggest medical center in Florida’s hardest-hit county, Miami’s Jackson Health System, scaling back elective surgeries and other procedures to make room for victims of the resurgence underway across the South and West, The Associated Press reports.

Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, planned to visit Arizona today, where cases have spiked since stay-at-home orders expired in mid-May.

Arizona reported record single-day highs of almost 4,900 new Covid-19 cases, 88 new deaths, close to 1,300 ER visits and a running total of nearly 2,900 people in the hospital.

Florida recorded more than 6,500 new cases down from around 9,000 on some days last week, but still alarming and a running total of over 3,500 deaths.

Ahead of the Fourth of July, counties in South Florida are closing beaches to fend off large crowds that could spread the virus.

The run-up in cases has been blamed in part on what New Jersey’s governor called “knucklehead behavior” by Americans not wearing masks or obeying other social-distancing rules.

“Too many people were crowding into restaurants late at night, turning these establishments into breeding grounds for this deadly virus,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in forbidding restaurants with seating for more than eight people from serving customers inside from midnight to 6am.

Health experts say the virus in Florida and other Southern states risks becoming uncontrollable, with case numbers too large to trace.

Marilyn Rauth, a senior citizen in Punta Gorda, said Florida’s reopening was “too much too soon.”
“The sad thing is the Covid-19 spread will probably go on for some time though we could have flattened the curve with responsible leadership,” she said.

“Experience now has shown most people won’t social distance at beaches, bars, etc. The governor evidently has no concern for the health of the state’s citizens.”

Some distant states and cities that seemed to have tamed their outbreaks, including Colorado, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, hit pause or backtracked on some of their reopening plans for bars and restaurants.

And New York and New Jersey are asking visitors from 16 states from the Carolinas to California to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is delaying its resumption of indoor dining at restaurants, and not because of any rise in cases there.

The number of confirmed cases in the US per day has roughly doubled over the past month, hitting 44,800 on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

That is higher even than what the nation witnessed during the deadliest stretch of the crisis in mid-April through early May.



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Trump global media chief faces GOP backlash over firings


WASHINGTON —
The new chief of U.S.-funded global media is facing a conservative backlash over his decision to fire the heads of two international broadcasters, adding to concerns about the direction of the agency, which oversees the Voice of America and other outlets.

The criticism of Michael Pack, who defended his personnel moves, is unusual because it’s coming from supporters of President Donald Trump who had backed his controversial nomination to run the U.S. Agency for Global Media over staunch Democratic objections.

Trump allies, including former adviser Sebastian Gorka, have offered public support for the ousted head of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Alberto Fernandez, while others have taken issue with the firing of the head of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Jamie Fly.

Pack, a conservative filmmaker and onetime associate of Trump adviser Steve Bannon, sacked both of them late Wednesday in a purge of USAGM’s outlets, which also include Radio Free Asia and the Cuba-focused Radio/TV Marti. Those moves have alarmed Democrats who fear Pack intends to turn the agency into a Trump administration propaganda machine.

“Every action I carried out was — and every action I will carry out will be — geared toward rebuilding the USAGM’s reputation, boosting morale, and improving content,” Pack said in a statement released by the new agency’s new public affairs staff.

The statement called the moves “significant and long-overdue” and said Pack and his team are “committed to eradicating the known mismanagement and scandals that have plagued the agency for decades.”

In addition to the agency chiefs, Pack dismissed veteran broadcast news executive Steve Capus, who had been a senior adviser to the organization and its leadership, according to two congressional aides and an AGM employee, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Capus, who was previously president of NBC News for nearly eight years, did not respond to a query sent to an AGM work email address.

And, he ousted the head of the Open Technology Fund, a non-broadcast arm of the AGM that works to provide secure internet access to people around the world. Last week, Fund chief Libby Liu submitted her resignation, effective in mid-July, but she was removed with the others.

There was no public explanation of why Pack would dismiss any of the officials, let alone those favored by conservatives beyond the general statement of improving the agency.

The firing of Fernandez, in particular, has raised conservative hackles. A former career diplomat fluent in Arabic, Fernandez had been hailed by conservatives for bringing what they saw as balance to the Arabic-language outlets AlHurra television and Radio Sawa.

“Ambassador Fernandez was the greatest asset America had in foreign broadcasting,” Gorka wrote on Twitter shortly after the dismissals became public.

Michael Doran, a former National Security Council and State Department official during President George W. Bush’s administration, called Fernandez’s ouster “asinine” and said that without him, “Pack will be as effective as a drugged bug in a bottle.”

David Reaboi, a noted conservative national security analyst, was even more critical, calling Fernandez’s removal “shameful.” “It was unusual for the pro-American side to get represented, and Alberto always made sure it did,” he told the AP. “It was a model for recapturing territory from the far left and righting the ship.“

“Michael Pack gets confirmed by the Senate and, rather than take stock and talk to people who know what’s happening, he fired everybody,” Reaboi wrote. “Michael Pack destroyed that because he was too dumb to listen — or too dumb to be able to figure out the difference between friends and enemies.”

The dismissal of Fly, a former staffer for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also attracted criticism, including from Mark Dubowitz, a well-known advocate of the Trump administration’s hawkish policies on Iran. “Poor decision to fire (Fernandez) and (Fly) whose exemplary leadership of MBN and RFE/RL respectively, made America’s public diplomacy more effective, more persuasive and more consistent with American interests and values,” he wrote.

Juan Zarate, a Republican former NSC and Treasury staffer, agreed, calling the two dismissals “incomprehensible.” “I’ve watched both for years work with integrity to promote US interests abroad,” he wrote.

In addition to Fernandez and Fly, Pack also removed the head of Radio Free Asia, Bay Fang, and the acting chief of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting on Wednesday. He replaced each outlet’s corporate board of directors with allies and installed himself as chairman of each.

One of the people added to the board of Radio Free Asia, Jonathan Alexandre, attracted particular concern from Democrats who noted that he is also director of public policy for the conservative Liberty Counsel, a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group for opposing gay rights.

The director and deputy director of the Voice of America, Amanda Bennett and Sandy Sugawara, resigned from their positions on Monday. Taken together, top House Democrats who oversee AGM funding said Pack’s moves were dangerous.

“That Mr. Pack took this drastic measure in his first week on the job is shocking, and we have deep concerns that he takes the helm of a critical agency with the intent to prioritize the Trump administration’s political whims over protecting and promoting independent reporting, which is a pillar of freedom and democracy,” said Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, denounced the firings as an “egregious breach” of the agency’s mission. Menendez had led an unsuccessful fight to block or at least delay Pack’s confirmation.



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Trump To Address ‘Disparities’ At Dallas Event : NPR


President Trump arrives at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Forth Worth in Texas 2019.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images


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President Trump arrives at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Forth Worth in Texas 2019.

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President Trump on Thursday will meet with pastors, law enforcement officials and small business owners at a church in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday and is expected to discuss plans for a national “holistic revitalization and recovery,” a White House official said.

In his latest response to protests over police brutality, sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Trump is expected to discuss ways to address “historic economic, health and justice disparities in American communities” at the event, the official said. This comes as demonstrators and officials across the country have called for additional visibility to the social and economic hardships faced by many racial minorities in the country.

It was unclear how detailed Trump’s discussion would be. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had been working on “proposals to address the issues that the protesters had raised across the country, legitimate issues” for 10 days but said she was not certain it would be revealed on Thursday.

Trump is also set to hold a fundraising event while in Dallas, his first in-person one since the coronavirus restricted such events.

Trump, who has campaigned on “law and order” themes and has been backed by police unions, has faced condemnation over his response to the protests. Polling shows most Americans think Trump has increased racial tensions.

Trump held a roundtable at the White House with law enforcement officials on Monday where he suggested that he was open to ideas for how policing can be done “in a much more gentle fashion,” but he has resisted suggestions that systemic racism is a problem in policing. Trump has also sought to focus on his administration’s economic and criminal justice reform initiatives, saying that a strong economy was the “greatest thing that could happen for race relations.”

McEnany in the Wednesday briefing took the same approach, declining to say whether the president believed there was a problem with institutional racism within the United States and instead pointed to what she described as Trump’s belief in the fundamental goodness of most police officers.

“There are injustices that we have seen, clearly. That tape of George Floyd was inexcusable, gut wrenching, difficult to watch, and it was really a beautiful funeral yesterday, all the great testimonies to his life. We recognize those injustices,” McEnany said.

“But this president knows fundamentally that most police officers in this country are good.”



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Trump plans to sign bill pressuring China over Uighur Muslim crackdown -source


WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for oppression of Uighur Muslims, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday without offering a time frame for the signing.

The bill, which passed the U.S. House and Senate with bipartisan support last month, calls for sanctions against those responsible for repression of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang province, where the United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Editing by Franklin Paul)



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Trump backs Drew Brees’ original comments on it being ‘disrespectful’ to kneel during the anthem


President Donald Trump reiterated his stance that NFL players should not kneel in protest during the national anthem in a tweet supporting New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees’ recent comments about protests.

Brees drew criticism Wednesday after he told Yahoo! Finance that he did not agree with “disrespecting the flag” by kneeling during the national anthem. After fierce criticism, Brees apologized for his comments in an Instagram post Thursday, saying he would do better.

Brees’ comments were decried as “ignorant,” and his apology was criticized as hollow by many, including former teammate Lamar Louis, who wrote that Brees did not care enough to pick a side in the “fight for justice” because he was “comfortable” within his “own bubble.”

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag,” Trump wrote. “OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high…We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. “

“There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag,” Trump added, conflating silent protests of police brutality to protesting the American flag. “NO KNEELING.”

The NFL has been a flashpoint for protests over police violence ever since Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016 during the national anthem before games. Kaepernick has since gone unsigned — and emerged as a leading voice in opposition of police violence.

On Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to players for not listening to their concerns regarding racism sooner.

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” he said in a video statement on Twitter. “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest.”

The president has called out the league and players who kneel, saying at a September 2017 rally that it would be nice if owners would react by saying, “Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out.”

At a pre-Superbowl interview last year, Trump said that “a lot of people” in the NFL have thanked him for signing the First Step Act, a bill which promised to institute sweeping changes to the criminal justice system.

Trump said NFL players “haven’t been kneeling and they have been respecting the flag and their ratings have been terrific ever since” he signed the legislation.





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Trump praises Secret Service and threatens protesters with ‘vicious dogs’ | US news


Donald Trump has praised the US Secret Service for confronting protesters who massed outside the White House on Friday night, tweeting that had any of the crowd breached the fence, they “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen”.

It was the president’s latest potentially inflammatory response to protests which have erupted across the US over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died while being arrested by police in Minneapolis.

A white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was charged with murder but violent protests have prompted national guard deployments, raising tensions everywhere.

On Friday, Trump tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”, a phrase with racist origins which was censored by Twitter.

Trump then claimed he hadn’t known the inflammatory nature of the phrase, let alone had intended to call for violence against his own citizens. He also expressed his “deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of George Floyd”.

Those words were more in keeping with those of Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive opponent in the presidential election in November. The former vice-president spoke to Floyd’s family and issued a video address in which he said: “This is no time for incendiary tweets. This is no time to encourage violence. This is a national crisis, and we need real leadership right now.”

On Friday night, as protests reached the White House gates, Trump turned back to incendiary tweeting, electioneering on the back of protests, riots and looting in cities across the US.

Outside the White House, people hurled bricks, bottles and other objects at Secret Service and US park police officers in riot gear behind barricades.

The crowd of hundreds chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name: George Floyd”. The protest went on for several hours before police declared it “unlawful” and ordered everyone to leave. Dozens of officers pushed forward with their shields and fired off streams of pepper spray at protesters.

In a statement on Saturday, the Secret Service said it made six arrests and “multiple” officers and agents were injured.

Trump said he watched the events from the White House and that the Secret Service did a “great job”.

The president added: “They let the ‘protesters’ scream and rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard – didn’t know what hit them.”

Without evidence, the president claimed the protesters were “professionally” organized but had failed to breach the White House perimeter.

“If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least,” Trump tweeted.

Trump rounded off the flurry of tweets by attacking Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, for not sending DC police to help.

This followed a theme, in which the president has responded to the turmoil by blaming riots on Democratic mayors and state governors and lamenting the damage caused to businesses during the unrest.

In subsequent tweets, the president again claimed without evidence the protest was “professionally managed” and involved “organised groups”. The protesters, he said, “had little to do with the memory of George Floyd. They were just there to cause trouble … Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???”

It was not immediately clear if the president was calling for a counter-protest by his supporters, an event which would be likely to enflame tensions already running high.

Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, were due on Saturday to fly to Florida for the rescheduled launch of a manned SpaceX mission, their public schedule bringing them back to the White House at 8.15pm.





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Chris Wallace Hits Donald Trump With Blunt Fact-Check On Mail-In Ballot Fraud Claims



Fox News host Chris Wallace risked drawing the ire of Donald Trump yet again on Friday after he debunked the president’s false claims on mail-in voter fraud.

Trump has ramped up his rhetoric against mail-in voting in recent weeks, at one point even threatening to withhold federal funds from Nevada and Michigan if they went ahead with sending applications to voters.

That’s despite Trump himself voting by mail in Florida’s GOP primary in March.

Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” fact-checked the president’s claims on Friday’s broadcast of “America’s Newsroom.”

“Well, you know, I’ve done some deep dive into it, there really is no record of massive fraud or even serious fraud from mail-in voting,” he said.

Check out the video here:

“It’s being carried out in Republican states. It’s being carried out in Democratic states,” Wallace continued. “There’s no indication that mail-in voting, as opposed to in-person voting, tends to favor one party over another.”

Wallace noted how “if anything, it tends to favor Republicans” because “the people, now we’re talking about outside a pandemic, who historically have tended to vote most often by mail are elderly people, people over 65, and they tend to vote more Republican than Democratic.”

“Have there been some cases? Yes,” Wallace acknowledged, also citing the potential problem of vote harvesting. “But when people get their ballots and mail them in themselves, no history of fraud at all,” he said.

Trump has also falsely claimed on multiple occasions that up to 5 million votes were illegally cast in the 2016 presidential election. He lost the popular vote to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes.

Wallace’s fact-checking of Trump came amid an escalation in tensions between the president and Fox News, whose primetime hosts, in particular, have been widely accused of being a propaganda vehicle for the Trump administration.

Trump lashed out at the widely watched conservative network earlier this week after anchor Neil Cavuto slammed the president’s claim about taking the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as protection against the coronavirus.

“Many will disagree, but @FoxNews is doing nothing to help Republicans, and me, get re-elected on November 3rd,” Trump tweeted Thursday.

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

 





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Trump ousts State Department watchdog



Trump’s move infuriated Democrats who say he’s trying to circumvent oversight of his administration, undermining the ability of other branches to hold him accountable. The move follows Trump’s anger at being impeached, but it also comes as the White House struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic just months before the presidential election.

“The president’s late-night, weekend firing of the State Department inspector general has accelerated his dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people,” Pelosi said in an statement. “Inspector General Linick was punished for honorably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath.”

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called Linick’s dismissal an “outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the secretary of State, from accountability.”

Engel claimed: “I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”

A Democratic congressional aide said Linick had launched an investigation into Pompeo’s alleged misuse of a political appointee to perform personal tasks for him and Mrs. Pompeo. The State Department did not respond to an inquiry about the allegation.

Linick played a minor role in the House of Representatives’ impeachment proceedings against Trump, ferrying a trove of documents to lawmakers that had been provided to the State Department by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

A State Department spokesperson said that Amb. Stephen Akard, a former career Foreign Service officer, “will now lead the Office of the Inspector General at the State Department” in an acting capacity.

Akard had in 2017 been nominated to serve as the director general of the Foreign Service, a high-ranking human resources role.

That nomination upset veteran U.S. diplomats, who said Akard lacked the long tenure of service usually required for such a prestigious position. The American Academy of Diplomacy even wrote an unusual letter opposing his nomination.

Akard’s nomination as director general was eventually withdrawn, but he was later tapped for a different role, leading the Office of Foreign Missions, for which he was confirmed in September 2019.

Before joining the Trump administration, Akard was chief of staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under then-governor Pence.

Linick is well-respected at the State Department, and his office stays busy, regularly churning out a range of inspections, audits and other types of reports.

His departure is likely to further deepen morale problems that have festered at State since the start of the Trump administration, when many career diplomats found themselves shunted aside and cast as a “deep state” bent on undermining Trump.

Two of Linick’s most-read reports over the past year involved alleged retaliation by Trump political appointees against career employees.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Linick’s ouster “shameful.”

“Another late Friday night attack on independence, accountability, and career officials,” Menendez tweeted. “At this point, the president’s paralyzing fear of any oversight is undeniable.”

Trump has removed a number of federal watchdogs in the last few months, including Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm, who issued a report critical of the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; and the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, whose handling of a whistleblower report ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment.

Separately, Trump also notified Congress on Friday of his intent to nominate Eric Soskin, a Justice Department trial counsel who has been involved in some hot-button immigration and civil rights cases, to be inspector general of the Department of Transportation. Soskin has worked in the Justice Department’s federal programs division as senior trial counsel for 14 years, according to a White House announcement.

Calvin Scovel retired as DOT inspector general earlier this year, after 13 years in the job.

Andrew Desiderio, Kyle Cheney and Brianna Gurciullo contributed reporting.



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Donald Trump clashes with reporters



A group of California prisoners tried to infect themselves in a futile bid to win freedom, a senior police official said on Monday.

Inmates at a facility in Castaic, north of Los Angeles, were filmed sharing a disposable cup and sniffing a used face mask while crowded together.

“Somehow, there was some mistaken belief among the inmate population that if they tested positive, that there was a way to force our hand and somehow release more inmates out of our jail environment – and that’s not going to happen,” said county sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Some 21 prisoners tested positive in the prison section where the video was shot “as a result of the behaviour”, he added.

The activity came to light as prison officials investigated a broader spike in Covid-19 cases behind bars, with nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated in Los Angeles County now in quarantine.





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Trump promised a big announcement. Then he read off a long list of names.



“Now, we have a list of people that I’ll be speaking to over the next very short period of time, in many cases, tomorrow,” Trump said. “We have a list of different industries that I’ll be discussing by, meeting by telephone, because we don’t want people traveling right now.”

Trump read off names of just about every leading corporation in America — all of whom he said would advise the administration in the coming weeks about how to reopen the economy from its coronavirus-induced shutdown.

After the president concluded his news briefing, the White House released a list of nearly 200 corporate executives, faith leaders and thought leaders broken out by sector in what the announcement called “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups.”

“These bipartisan groups of American leaders will work together with the White House to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity,” the statement said. “The health and wealth of America is the primary goal, and these groups will produce a more independent, self-sufficient, and resilient Nation.”

At no point did Trump or the White House explain the way the committees would work, or the types of suggestions they sought or the benchmarks the White House would use to determine whether it was safe to reopen shuttered businesses, send children back to school, reopen stadiums or resume work in offices.

Trump also did not indicate who would lead the effort emanating from the various industry groups from the White House; on Monday, the councils had seemed like a potential new project for chief of staff Mark Meadows. Throughout the past week there were also confusing signals about the involvement of senior advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The back-and-forth deliberations over the “Opening Our Country Council,” as Trump called it at one point last week, laid bare for the American public the way decisions often are made in the Trump White House — through power struggles, the loose and very public airing of possible ideas and then the president making adjustments on the fly with a goal of having a big announcement.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Tuesday the president would likely make an announcement later this week on when and how he intended to reopen the economy, a choice Trump has called one of the toughest decisions of his presidency.

Inside the White House, aides have been zeroing in on the estimates from the nonpartisan Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which show the U.S. is now past its peak outbreak and estimates that hospitalizations related to Covid-19 will start to rapidly decline beginning in late April.

Aides are reluctant to identify May 1 as a target date given how things panned out last time — when Trump identified Easter as his target and then had to walk it back — but the president and vice president do think May is a realistic timeline for some parts of the country to begin reopening.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said he could see the country re-opening in phases, depending on the infection rates.

In an Associated Press interview, Fauci indicated the U.S. needed stronger and more efficient testing to be in place before parts of the country reopened. That was in sharp contrast to the president’s more upbeat, congratulatory messages about the administration’s coronavirus response.

Fauci did not speak at the briefing on Tuesday and no government officials spoke apart from the president.

One senior White House official described the IHME estimates as “promising” and a “positive sign.” This official also said there are “many plans in development” right now that are aimed at safely reopening the economy, including ways to boost surveillance testing across the country.

The administration conducted a stress test of the current surveillance testing system last week to see if it works and views that as one of the main areas that needs improvement before people return to work.

“The data is looking better and better each day, and ultimately we want the data to drive the decision-making in terms of reopening the economy,” the senior White House official said.

A second official said White House aides were aware of a widely circulated timeline put out by Morgan Stanley for restarting the economy and disagreed with it slightly. According to that timeline, the first wave of Americans returning to nonessential businesses would be in June, which is farther out than the current timeline being discussed by task force and other administration officials.

A number of conservatives outside of the administration, along with top officials like Kudlow, Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have been pushing Trump to relax the administration’s guidelines on social distancing as soon as possible to urge businesses to reopen.

Health officials have been sifting through state-by-state data to determine when the economy could reopen, including diagnostic rates of new infections as well as the availability of hospital beds.

Even before the flurry of discussions about forming the new economic council, top economic and Treasury officials had been meeting to discuss ways to boost the economy once people return to work; that could include tax cuts, such as temporarily suspending the payroll tax cut for employers and employees for up to a year, or easing regulations even further.

In just three weeks of the crisis, 16.8 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, according to the Labor Department, and millions more are expected to be added to that tally in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, governors are making their own plans to reopen the economy without the president’s input. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that state officials would consider the state’s ability to track the virus; the protection of vulnerable people; and the capacity of hospitals as he weighed reopening schools and businesses throughout the state.



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