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U.S. lawmakers renew push to grant assistance to local news outlets

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Thousands of local U.S. newspapers and broadcast outlets, grappling with a massive downturn in advertising because of the COVID-19 pandemic, would be eligible for financial help under legislation introduced in Congress on Wednesday.

A bipartisan U.S. Senate proposal of Democrats Maria Cantwell, Amy Klobuchar, Chuck Schumer and Republicans John Boozman and Joni Ernst would provide news outlets emergency assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Some smaller outlets qualified for PPP assistance in April. The new proposal would help thousands more that were excluded because their parent companies were too large.

A similar effort to help local news outlets is part of a proposed $3 trillion relief bill introduced on Tuesday by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senate Republicans do not support the large spending bill, but majorities in both houses have signed letters urging additional support for local media.

Since March, local newspapers have lost as much as 50% of advertising revenue, while the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says some local broadcasters have reported as much as a 90% loss in advertising revenues. This year, NAB estimates advertising losses for local TV and radio broadcasters will reach at least $3 billion.

NAB CEO Gordon Smith said in a statement, “hometown broadcasters and community newspapers are providing vital news and information during these unprecedented times to keep families and communities safe, while struggling with record advertising revenue losses.”

Tens of thousands of local media workers are being forced to take unpaid furloughs or pay cuts. Some outlets are reducing the frequency of printing. Others are closing.

Many news organizations were hurting before the pandemic. Employment at U.S. newsrooms fell 25% from 2008 to 2018, the Pew Research Center reported, a loss of 28,000 jobs, while 1,800 U.S. newspapers have closed since 2004.

Last month, four groups representing broadcasters and newspapers, including the NAB, asked lawmakers to support up to $10 billion in government advertising and to rewrite PPP rules.

“This legislation is so important because just like any other small business, access to this federal funding could be a vital lifeline for local news outlets that are losing major advertising revenue and suffering huge financial losses,” said Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader.

Outlets under the Senate bill are eligible as long as their individual physical locations have fewer than 1,000 employees for newspapers and less than $41.5 million in gross receipts for broadcasters. The funding must go into producing local news or emergency information and keep local reporters and those who support them employed.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Howard Goller

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Biden, Comey, Brennan submitted Flynn ‘unmasking’ requests

John Brennan, Joe Biden (Image: YouTube screen grab)

By Chuck Ross

Former Vice President Joe Biden and the directors of the three main U.S. intelligence agencies submitted so-called “unmasking” requests for information about Michael Flynn contained in highly classified intelligence reports, according to documents released Wednesday.

The documents show that an unmasking request was made in Biden’s name on Jan. 12, 2017. Similar requests were made under the names of James Comey, John Brennan and James Clapper, the former directors of the FBI, CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, respectively.

Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson released the list on Wednesday. Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, declassified the list of names last Thursday and provided them to the senators this week.

Trending: Judge in Flynn case now solicits amicus briefs; Sidney Powell document indicates partisan group filed one on Monday

It is not clear whether Biden or the other intelligence chiefs saw the documents related to Flynn. The document released on Wednesday said that the unmasking requests were made under 16 different government officials’ names.

“Below is a list of recipients who may have received Lt. Gen Flynn’s identity in response to a request processed between 8 November 2016 and 31 January 2017 to unmask an identity that had been generically referred to in an NSA foreign intelligence report,” the document stated.

“While the principals are identified below, we cannot confirm they saw the unmasked information.”

Flynn spoke by phone on Dec. 29, 2016, with Kislyak.

Days after the call, FBI and Justice Department officials began discussing whether Flynn violated the Logan Act, an obscure law that prohibits American citizens from negotiating with foreign governments regarding U.S. government policy.

Unmasking describes the process where high-level U.S. government officials request to see information regarding American citizens mentioned in classified transcripts of communications involving foreigners. It is not illegal to make unmasking requests. But the Flynn case is unique because the mentions of him in the classified transcripts were leaked to the media.

David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist, mentioned the call and the possible Logan Act violation in a Jan. 12, 2017, column. The Post’s source has still not been identified.

The Justice Department filed a motion to drop the case against Flynn May 7 for making false statements to the FBI regarding his conversations with Kislyak.

Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to the false statements charge.

The Justice Department filed its motion to drop charges against Flynn, citing new FBI documents discovered in the case.

Grenell, who also serves as ambassador to Germany, took the list of names to the Justice Department last week asking for the information to be released to the public. Grenell has been behind a recent push to declassify and release documents related to the FBI’s investigation of Trump associates.

He was involved in the process of declassifying footnotes from a Justice Department inspector general’s report on the investigation. Those footnotes showed that the FBI received evidence in 2017 that Russian intelligence operatives might have fed disinformation to Christopher Steele, the author of a dossier that accused the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Kremlin.

Grenell also recently pressured House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to release 53 transcripts of interviews that the committee conducted as part of its own Russia probe. The transcripts showed that Obama officials such as James Clapper, Susan Rice, and Ben Rhodes had not seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia by the time they left office.

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Trump privately questions whether coronavirus deaths are being overcounted as Fauci projects the opposite

As nationwide case numbers show a steady decrease, Trump and some of his aides have begun questioning whether deaths are being over-counted, according to people familiar with the matter, even as the President publicly attests to the accuracy of the numbers.

But inside the West Wing, officials said there have been steady doubts about coronavirus figures arriving from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, either because they are behind or potentially skewed. In meetings of the White House task force, senior officials have raised questions about how the agency is compiling and tracking its data.

The death count questions illustrate the degree to which Trump and his allies have begun to scrutinize the data and advice emerging from government sources: Death counts are questioned, models are doubted, recommendations are debated and discarded and medical experts — even those widely trusted by the American people — are viewed with suspicion.

As the President agitates for a national reopening and looks ahead to November’s election, his allies and even some of his own advisers have sown distrust in the institutions and data which underpin his coronavirus response.

Trump himself has waded only intermittently into the fray, leaving his supporters in Congress, the White House and conservative media to plant seeds of skepticism in government facts and figures. But he hasn’t tamped down on the efforts and, through his actions, has largely discounted the guidelines set forth by his own experts.

Sidelining experts and facts

The phenomenon is hardly new for Trump, whose presidency has been marked by a sidelining of experts and facts. But the efforts underway now appear designed to advance national reopening efforts that Trump believes will revive the economy and with it his reelection prospects, even as some public health experts warn it could lead to a new resurgence of the virus if executed too quickly.

The questions about the coronavirus death count have contributed to a growing sense of distrust between the White House and the CDC, which has largely been sidelined amid the largest public health crisis in decades. The White House task force is still weighing the agency’s detailed guidelines for opening specific types of businesses after an initial draft was sent back.

Ongoing discussions about the accuracy of the death numbers have centered on whether they are “helpful” in formulating policy, one official said, adding that some people at the relevant agencies are “uncomfortable” with the fluctuations in the models.

The death count numbers have been subject to revisions and changes, including after the CDC issued new guidelines last month saying it was “acceptable to report COVID-19 on a death certificate as ‘probable’ or ‘presumed,’ ” when a definitive diagnosis can’t be made. After the new guidelines were issued, an additional 3,700 deaths were reported in New York City.

Trump seemed to bristle at the new numbers, appearing to accuse the city of padding its death numbers by counting deaths that could have been caused by other ailments.

“Rather than heart attack, they say heart attack caused by this,” he said.

Later, however, he backed off, saying the US death counts are “very, very, highly accurate.”

He appeared to deny any efforts to discount the US death count even as he accused other countries of low-balling their own mortality numbers.

“Our numbers are, essentially certified numbers,” the President said earlier this month. “They’re individual hospitals they’re putting out the numbers. I don’t imagine there’d be a very big variation.”

Trump has been less enthusiastic about the various models that have shown US deaths rising or falling based on various mitigation factors.

“These models have been so wrong from day one,” he told ABC News in an interview this month, voicing a level of skepticism on both official and unofficial models that has existed among his advisers for weeks.

Even Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, has raised concerns with how the CDC has collected and reported some of its data, including death counts, according to officials familiar with the matter.

The Washington Post first reported last week that Birx told colleagues: “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust,” a sentiment multiple officials said has pervaded some task force meetings when information from the Atlanta-based agency is presented.


Others inside the administration’s coronavirus effort have suggested the death count is being undercounted. In congressional testimony on Tuesday, Fauci told lawmakers that he and many public health experts believed the number of deaths was higher than the roughly 80,000 currently reported.

“Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number, because given the situation particularly in New York City when they were really strapped with a very serious challenge to their health care system, that there may have been people who died at home who did have Covid who are not counted as Covid because they never really got to the hospital,” he said, responding to a question from Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

“I think you are correct that the number is likely higher,” Fauci told Sanders. “I don’t know exactly where it sits higher, but almost certainly is higher.”

Fauci said counting the number of dead in hard-hit areas is a major challenge for public health experts.

It was the latest example of Fauci offering a blunt assessment of the coronavirus outbreak that didn’t necessarily line up with the rosier outlook from the White House. Elsewhere in his testimony on Tuesday, Fauci warned that states would face “serious” consequences if they reopen ahead of the administration’s recommendations, even though Trump has encouraged states that haven’t met that criteria to begin lifting restrictions.

During the most heated exchange of the hearing — at which Fauci appeared remotely — one of Trump’s strongest allies on Capitol Hill, Republican Sen. Rand Paul, intimated the top infectious disease expert had become overly powerful.

“I don’t think you’re the end-all. I don’t think you’re the one person who gets to make a decision,” Paul said. “We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy.”

Fauci took exception, saying he was only one voice of many and that he was only offering public health advice. Some conservative lawmakers rushed to his defense, including Rep. Liz Cheney, who tweeted Fauci “is one of the finest public servants we have ever had” whose “expertise and judgment” are needed to defeat the virus.

But other Trump allies amplified Paul’s concerns — including the entire prime-time lineup on Fox News, the President’s favorite channel.

“This guy, Fauci, may be even more off-base than your average epidemiologist,” Tucker Carlson said at 8 p.m. ET. Fauci “seems to favor what the Democrats want and that is massive restrictions with no end in sight,” Sean Hannity said an hour later. “With all due respect to Dr. Fauci’s expertise, no one elected him to anything,” Laura Ingraham said during her 10 p.m. show.

Truth and consequences

CNN Poll: Negative ratings for government handling of coronavirus persist
Overall, more Americans trust the information they receive from Fauci (67%) than from Trump (36%), according to a CNN Poll conducted by SSRS released this week. But they are divided along partisan lines. Republicans are more apt to say that they trust the information they get about coronavirus from Trump (84%) than they are to say they trust the information they get from Fauci (61%) or the CDC (72%). Among Democrats, just 4% say they trust the information they get from the President, well behind the 81% who say they trust Fauci or the 80% who trust the CDC.

Among Trump’s aides, there has been some grumbling about Fauci and his cautious approach to the pandemic. As Trump has phased out his daily coronavirus briefings, public appearances by his health experts have also waned.

Fauci denied having a contentious relationship with Trump during his testimony on Tuesday, and White House officials affirm the men have an amiable working bond. Instead, the contention appears to lie in what advice Trump is willing to accept, and how candid Fauci is in public when assessing the outbreak

One official said some inside the White House are trying to reframe the debate away from “health versus economy” — which has been the dynamic as states begin considering their reopening plans — and toward “health versus health”: trying to make the case that the nation will be better off in the long run by moving toward reopening from a public health standpoint.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany appeared to be making that turn on Tuesday, citing new warnings of an uptick in drug and alcohol deaths, as well as suicides, during the outbreak.

“There are consequences to us staying closed,” she said.

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Two Top GOP Senators Demand DOJ and DNI Release List Of Obama Officials Who Unmasked Americans

Two top GOP Senators requested Wednesday that the Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr and the Director of National Intelligence turn over all information regarding the recent declassification of senior Obama administration officials that unmasked Trump campaign officials during the final months of President Barack Obama’s tenure.

One of the most significant unanswered questions about what occurred during the 2016 election is how many Americans were ‘unmasked,’ at whose request, and for what purpose

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter Barr and Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell late Tuesday night. They are seeking the names of the former Obama officials who had unmasked Americans.

“Based on recent press reports, it is our understanding that you conducted a classification review and declassified information related to numerous requests to ‘unmask’ the names of U.S. persons who appeared in certain intelligence reporting around the time of the 2016 election through January 2017,” the Senators wrote. “We wholeheartedly agree that transparency is needed more now than ever. One of the most significant unanswered questions about what occurred during the 2016 election is how many Americans were “unmasked,” at whose request, and for what purpose.”

The list of Obama officials was declassified this week by Grenell. He immediately turned the list over to AG Barr, who has delegated federal prosecutors to investigate the FBI’s malfeasance during its investigation of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. The information needed to be vetted first by the Department of Justice before being made public, sources told this reporter.

According to several sources, with knowledge, the declassified list is being thoroughly reviewed by the DOJ as some of the information may pertain to the ongoing investigation being conducted by U.S. Prosecutor John Durham, who was appointed by Barr to review the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s counterintelligence and criminal investigation into the Trump campaign.

On Tuesday, sources told that tension between the Justice Department and Grenell grew as both agencies expected the other to take the lead in making the declassification public.

Senior lawmakers, who spoke to this reporter, said Wednesday that they believe the declassified information will be made available to the public soon, adding that the Department of Justice and DNI should come soon to an agreement about who will release the information.

According to Fox News, which spoke to officials at the Justice Department, Grenell has full authority to release the information.

Lawmakers are hoping that the declassified list of Obama officials may lead to more information about the person or persons that illegally leaked former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s name to The Washington Post. Flynn’s name was unmasked and the contents of his highly classified phone conversation with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition in December, 2016 was leaked to reporters at The Washington Post.

The Senator’s stated in their letter on Tuesday to Grenell and Barr that the “recent decision to declassify dozens of footnotes from the report of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General about the investigation of the Trump campaign;2 the declassification and disclosure of transcripts of related interviews by the House Intelligence Committee; and the disclosure of exculpatory information related to the prosecution of Lt. General Michael Flynn, paint a more and more troubling picture of the conduct that we have been investigating since 2017. However, we firmly believe that the best way to resolve these issues is to determine the truth, and to make clear to the American people what did and did not occur.”


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The Chilling Return of ‘Papers Please’

So-called immunity passports would bring back the worst civil liberties abuses of the past and result in a crime wave.

The coronavirus lockdown drags on, yet only a few fringe fanatics (and France, but I repeat myself) support continuing complete shutdowns of the world’s economies. However, even those countries that have opted to end forced quarantines still present a range of worrying responses. One of these ongoing debates surrounds the so-called “Corona apps,” with which authorities intend to track and trace the movements of their own citizens. In Poland, the government is mandating that those infected with COVID-19 install an app and use it to send a selfie on a regular basis. If they do not comply, they face a visit from the law enforcement.

The nightmarish infringements on civil liberties are set to continue with “immunity passports.” The German Robert Koch Institute, along with other researchers and blood donation services, is working on a large-scale study to establish immunity in COVID-19 patients. Those found to have built immunity, either because they’ve already had the disease or through antibody testing, could be issued paperwork that exempts them from lockdown restrictions.

CNN’s medical analyst Saju Mathew counts himself as convinced by the concept, and quotes a noted beacon of human freedom to back it up: “In China, for example, QR codes have been used to loosen restrictions in Wuhan, where the pandemic originated. People assessed to be healthy have been given a green QR code, indicating they can travel within the province.”

From a law enforcement level, the existence of immunity passports would extend indefinitely the practice of questioning citizens without reasonable suspicion at any time. “Papers please” wouldn’t be experienced only because one is crossing a border, but merely because one is outside. If you were worried about rogue police abusing power before, wait until stop and frisk becomes the norm all across the United States, at any time of the day. 

In the United Kingdom, Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of the government’s new and emerging respiratory virus threats advisory group, told The Guardian that “people granted the passports would have to be kept under close observation to ensure they were not becoming reinfected.” In practice, this would amount to daily identification checkpoints and mandatory home visits. Any pretense of individual liberty and fundamental rights would go out the window.

But beyond that, on a more practical level, the measure would be inoperable. In a scientific brief published at the end of April, the World Health Organization (WHO)—known to be warm on authoritarian measures such as those used by China—preliminarily rejected the idea of these passports. Current antibody tests, the WHO warned, could confuse immunity with one of the six existing coronaviruses, four of which cause the common cold. The WHO also noted that such paperwork would give citizens the impression that they do not need to abide by social distancing guidelines, giving them a false sense of security. Professor Openshaw adds that immunity passports would incentivize people to try and deliberately catch coronavirus, which could end up overwhelming the health sector, exactly the scenario that the lockdowns are meant to prevent.

There’s also a massive opportunity for crime under such a proposal. In 2015, 50 million travel documents were either lost or stolen. In 2014, the UK recorded a five-year high of counterfeit passport seizures. Fake passports fuel organized crime and have long been available on the black market. Immunity passports would be far more valuable, since they would grant not just the ability to go to other countries, but other basic freedoms of movement, going into shops or meeting friends. The idea that people would pay a pretty price for their freedom would be an understatement. In turn, the government could only react to such a flood of false documentation by becoming more authoritarian, casting us into yet another spiral of increasing state control.

There is no instance in which the systematic control of citizens has not ended in police abuse, or plain and simple authoritarianism. There is a genuine fear about the coronavirus. That said, we cannot allow such fear to rid us completely of our fundamental rights. States of emergency were and are designed to be temporary, and in that, to be short. 

If the debate is over whether to radically overturn the Bill of Rights and human rights conventions, then let us have that debate. Let us talk about rewriting the rules, instead of just plain ignoring them.

Bill Wirtz comments on European politics and policy in English, French, and German. His work has appeared in Newsweek, the Washington Examiner, CityAM, Le MondeLe Figaro, and Die Welt.

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Republicans and Democrats barrel toward collision on voting by mail

However, support for the idea is split along ideological lines. A supermajority of voters who are registered or lean Democratic — 77 percent — back the idea. Republicans are more divided: 48 percent are opposed and 42 percent in favor.

House Democrats have proposed mandating that states send all voters a ballot in the case of emergencies — in their most recent coronavirus relief package, dubbed the HEROES Act, along with other sweeping changes to the elections. The bill would also require universal “no-excuse” absentee voting, online and same-day voter registration and expanded early voting, among other changes.

In broad strokes, Americans support the expansion of no-excuse absentee voting. A recent Pew Research Center found seven in 10 adults supported allowing any voter to vote by mail if they want to.

But congressional Republicans have long opposed Democrats’ efforts to make major changes to the electoral system. They’ve argued that Democrats are trying to federalize elections, and that there wasn’t enough time to make such widespread changes before the November election.

“I’m not opposed to vote-by-mail programs,” said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking member on the House Rules Committee. But states, he said, should determine how to conduct their own elections, adapting to specific circumstances.

“We as Republicans have a distinct, different philosophy on what the federal government’s role in elections should be. We believe that the states and localities are the best ones to get their voters to the polls and recognize what’s going to give everybody an opportunity to cast a vote,” Davis continued.

Davis cited concerns that a rapid switch to a vote-by-mail system could leave some voters disenfranchised, a point that’s been echoed by activists for the disabled communities, Native Americans and others.

President Donald Trump has also vocally opposed voting by mail, alleging without evidence that it would lead to widespread fraud. Trump himself has voted absentee.

House Democrats’ expansive HEROES Act is, as Democrats privately acknowledge, unlikely to become law. Instead, it’s their opening bid for the next coronavirus relief negotiations. Democrats could vote as early as Friday on passage of the package.

However, Senate Republicans are cool on advancing any further relief legislation at the moment. “If we reach a decision along with the administration to move to another phase, that will be the time to interact with the Democrats,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday.

The election administration reforms in the package would likely be one of many points of contention. McConnell strongly opposed Democrats’ expansive election reform bill H.R. 1, which contained some of the same reforms included in the HEROES Act and was passed on a party line vote in the House in early 2019.

Democrats argue that the public widely supports their proposals — and that the election security grant funding mechanism included in the HEROES Act is of critical importance.

“On balance, [voters] think voting by mail is a good idea, and that we ought to expand that opportunity. They also, based on preference or access or other factors, want to make sure that there’s going to be some meaningful in-person voting opportunities,” said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who helped shepherd H.R. 1 through the House last year.

Sarbanes and other Democrats also said all forms of voting need to be available in November. Those include “expanded vote by mail, significant early voting opportunities, and then safe in-person voting opportunities on Election Day,” he said. “We need all three of those things.”

House Democrats are seeking to allocate $3.6 billion in additional funding to election officials to help prepare their states for holding elections in the middle of the pandemic. The first CARES relief package included $400 million for that purpose.

Some outside groups are pressing for more funding for state and local election officials, arguing that time is running short.

“We understand that Democrats may not be able to convince Republicans to ensure specific language about vote by mail,” said Sean Eldridge, founder of the liberal group Stand Up America. “But we think $4 billion in election [security] funding” is critical. Stand Up America backs the entire HEROES Act.

Democrats are also seeking to scrap a requirement that was in the first CARES Act that mandated states match 20 percent of the federal election grant to receive the money. The mandate has irked election officials from both parties.

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Protect Your Family From Fearmonger Fauci, by Michelle Malkin

This Mother’s Day weekend, my family defied government pandemania. We drove out east from Colorado Springs to the tiny town of Calhan for a lovely little hike in the purple-and-gold-hued Paint Mines archeological district. Unmasked, we basked in the sunshine, fresh air and freedom. The park was teeming with moms like me who put family bonding over “social distancing.”

We were not alone — and that was a glorious thing.

There is nothing public health fossil Dr. Anthony Fauci can do or say to stop me from making the best choices for my children’s health, sanity and resilience. He appeared before the Senate on Tuesday to heckle states like Colorado not to get back to business — back to life — too soon and too quickly. “Needless suffering and death” will occur, he told The New York Times. “I think we better be careful (that) we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune from the deleterious effects,” he testified.

Irked by Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul’s very necessary reminder that no federal infectious disease bureaucrat is the “end-all” decider of our fate, Fauci warned against reopening schools because children in New York are “presenting with COVID-19 who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome, very similar to Kawasaki syndrome.”

How dare you accuse us parents of being “cavalier” with our children’s health, Fauci, when you are scaring them with dubious, unverified claims connecting a few cases of an alleged mystery pediatric disease to the coronavirus?

How dare you toss around so cavalierly the uncorroborated specter of “Kawasaki syndrome” (a rare but treatable disease) while untold numbers among the 57 million K-12 students suffer from the effects of panic-induced anxiety, depression, phobias and isolation?

Here are some actual facts about Fauci’s Kawasaki hype: Peer-reviewed studies over the last several years have identified multiple theories of the inflammatory disease’s etiology, including genetic factors, environmental triggers, superantigens, bacterial infections and viruses. A blinded, case-control retrospective study on kids at Children’s Hospital in Denver investigating whether one strain of human coronavirus infection was a factor among Kawasaki syndrome patients “failed to demonstrate an association.” The Mayo Clinic diseases and conditions information website states that “scientists don’t believe the disease is contagious from person to person.” Moreover, the Mayo Clinic states: “Kawasaki disease is usually treatable, and most children recover from Kawasaki disease without serious problems.”

Dutiful reporters ignore the flip-flop, slavishly acting as stenographers for Fauci and the rest of the dishonest “deep state.” “Masks are here to stay,” The Washington Post Lifestyle section chirped last week. To which I say:

Hell, no.


Thanks to a brilliant and effective doctor, she learned to confront her fears instead of cowering from them. She learned that avoiding risks at all costs carries its own unacceptable risks. Every member of my family benefited from embracing the exposure therapy ethos. We cannot hide from germs, people or adversity. My daughter has remained strong in the face of mass hysteria and refused to withdraw from the world — working, seeing friends and living life.

As Dr. Judy Mikovits, author of “Plague of Corruption” and star of the documentary, “Plandemic,” which social media platforms have banned everywhere, “Fear is a very powerful immune-suppressant.” By holding our children hostage, federal scare-mongers with vested financial interests and ideological agendas are making our most precious and vulnerable members of the American family sick.

Here in Colorado Springs, two cadets at the Air Force Academy committed suicide while on extreme lockdown.

In Ohio last month, 12-year-old Hayden Hunstable committed suicide after suffering in a “perfect storm” of loneliness under quarantine, his family said. Isolation was a “hidden killer and equally as shocking and horrific as what is happening on the front lines of this disease.”

Where is Fauci’s concern for these invisible victims of the invisible enemy? He’s apparently too busy preparing to jab a new generation of young guinea pigs with his BFF Bill Gates’ shots.

To which I again say: Hell, no.

Teaching your children to live rationally and fearlessly, through words and deeds, is the most potent vaccine we can give them.

Michelle Malkin’s email address is [email protected] To find out more about Michelle Malkin and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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Live Coronavirus News Updates and Full Analysis

The Trump administration is reviewing an order to extend its virus border restrictions indefinitely.

The Trump administration is moving to extend its virus border restrictions indefinitely, using the government’s broad public health authorities to severely limit immigration across its land borders until officials decide that there is no more danger of infection to Americans, Michael D. Shear reports.

On March 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed a 30-day restriction on all nonessential travel into the United States from Mexico and Canada, closing legal points of entry to tourism and immediately returning people who crossed the border illegally to their home countries.

The restrictions have significantly hindered opportunities to seek humanitarian protections in the United States.

Since March 21, Border Patrol agents referred 59 migrants to be interviewed by asylum officers, according to a United States Citizenship and Immigration official. Only two seeking the protections were allowed to remain in the United States.

An additional three migrants have pending cases while 54 were turned away. The Washington Post first reported the asylum statistics. Since the rule was enacted, the administration has used the public health authority to immediately return more than 20,000 migrants to Mexico or their home countries.

The order — which was extended for another 30 days on April 20 — was part of a broad effort, led by Stephen Miller, the architect of President Trump’s immigration agenda, to aggressively use public health laws to reduce immigration as the government battles the virus.

But a new order under review by several government agencies is meant to extend the restrictions indefinitely. Once issued by Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., the border restrictions would stay in effect until he decides the virus no longer poses a threat. The indefinite extension comes even as Mr. Trump has repeatedly pushed for states to reopen their economies, arguing that the threat from the virus will quickly recede.

“I am extending the duration of the order until I determine that the danger of further introduction of Covid-19 into the United States has ceased to be a danger to the public health,” the draft order read, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times.

The White House declined to comment.

The new order would require C.D.C. officials to review the dangers posed by the virus every 30 days.

That language is certain to worry immigration advocates, who have accused Mr. Miller and the Trump administration of using the pandemic to impose immigration restrictions they have long wanted to make permanent. On several occasions before the crisis, Mr. Miller and others in the administration considered using public health laws to reduce immigration into the United States.

It is not clear when the administration intends to formally issue the new order. The existing border restrictions are set to expire on May 21.

Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, delivered a stark warning on Wednesday that the United States was facing an economic hit “without modern precedent,” one that could permanently damage the economy if Congress did not provide sufficient policy support to prevent a wave of bankruptcies and prolonged joblessness.

Mr. Powell’s blunt assessment was the clearest signal yet that the trillions of dollars in support that policymakers had already funneled into the economy might not be enough to prevent lasting damage from a pandemic that has shuttered businesses and thrown more than 20 million people out of work.

It was also a rejoinder to lawmakers and the Trump administration, whose discussions of additional rescue measures have run aground as Democrats unveil a wish list and Republicans shy away from federal spending, betting instead that reopening the economy will quickly and significantly lift growth.

“The recovery may take some time to gather momentum,” Mr. Powell said at a Peterson Institute for International Economics virtual event, where he lauded Congress’s early response packages and suggested that an uncertain outlook might call for more. “Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery.”

Mr. Powell’s comments unnerved investors, and the S & P 500 fell about 2 percent by early Wednesday afternoon.

Members of Congress remain divided along partisan lines over how aggressively to pursue additional relief spending, with Democrats proposing sweeping new programs and Republicans voicing concerns over the swelling federal budget deficit. Economic advisers to Mr. Trump have said that they are in a wait-and-see mode for now on whether another fiscal package is needed, watching to see how much the economy rebounds as states lift restrictions on business activity.

Mr. Powell and his central bank colleagues are stepping into their roles as economic experts and informal advisers to spur fiscal policymakers into action. They say the recovery remains highly uncertain, and if the policy response proves inadequate, the consequences could be long-lasting and painful.

“While the economic response has been both timely and appropriately large, it may not be the final chapter, given that the path ahead is both highly uncertain and subject to significant downside risks,” Mr. Powell said Wednesday. “Since the answers are currently unknowable, policies will need to be ready to address a range of possible outcomes.”

Mr. Powell pointed out that the burden often fell on the most disadvantaged, saying that a Fed survey set for release on Thursday would show that almost 40 percent of people who were working in February and were members of households making less than $40,000 a year had lost their jobs in March.

He warned of significant drawbacks if the current recession was drawn out, from “lasting damage” to the economy’s productive capacity to “avoidable” household and business insolvencies that weigh on growth for years to come. He also cautioned that long stretches of unemployment could erode worker skills and leave families struggling with huge debt loads.

“We ought to do what we can to avoid these outcomes, and that may require additional policy measures,” Mr. Powell said.

The Republican attorney general in Texas has heightened tensions with three of the state’s largest Democratic-led cities, warning officials in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio that their local mask-wearing requirements and other restrictions — all more strict than Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive orders — were unlawful.

When Mr. Abbott ended his stay-at-home order this month and set the stage for the state’s partial reopening, he angered many local officials by contending that his reopening policies superseded any conflicting orders issued by cities or counties.

The office of the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, issued letters to leaders in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio and threatened legal action over several local restrictions, including extensions of stay-at-home orders, protocols for houses of worship and requirements for face masks.

“We trust you will act quickly to correct mistakes like these to avoid further confusion and litigation challenging the county’s and city’s unconstitutional and unlawful restrictions,” a deputy attorney general wrote in a letter to the mayor of Austin and the county judge of Travis County, which includes Austin.

Officials elsewhere received similar missives as part of the latest skirmish in the long-running battle between conservative state leaders and politicians in more liberal major cities.

The elected officials who received the new warnings disputed the state’s reading of their orders. “We intentionally modeled the public health guidelines based on the governor’s recommendations, never imagining he did not want his own guidelines followed,” Judge Clay Jenkins, the top elected official in Dallas County, said in a statement.

Dallas County reported another 236 cases of the virus on Tuesday, bringing its total to 6,359, including 148 deaths.

The president taps the leaders of his efforts to speed the development of a vaccine.

Mr. Trump has picked Moncef Slaoui, the former chairman of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline, and Gen. Gustave F. Perna, a four-star general, to lead Operation Warp Speed, the government’s effort to speed up development of a vaccine for the coronavirus, according to a senior administration official.

The two men will lead a crash development program ordered by Mr. Trump that is meant to find a vaccine that could be ready for wide distribution in the United States by as early as next year. In late April, officials at the Department of Health and Human services confirmed the effort, but provided few details.

“Operation Warp Speed is clearly another extension of President Trump’s bold leadership and unwillingness to accept ‘business as usual’ approaches to addressing the Covid-19 crisis,” Michael Caputo, the department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, said at the time.

Some of Mr. Trump’s top public health advisers have cautioned that a vaccine for the pathogen might not be ready for widespread distribution for 18 months, and perhaps even longer. Mr. Trump ordered the creation of the “Warp Speed” program to try to speed that timeline.

The announcement comes a day before Dr. Rick Bright, a whistle-blower who said he was removed from his job as one of the nation’s top vaccine experts after objecting to the widespread use of malaria drugs promoted by Mr. Trump, is expected to be critical of the administration’s response to the virus in testimony on Thursday on Capitol Hill.

“Our window of opportunity is closing,” Dr. Bright, who was fired from his job as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, wrote in advance testimony. “If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities.”

Dr. Bright is expected to tell lawmakers that the Trump administration “dismissed early warning signals, and we forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook” as the virus emerged as a threat overseas. He will also say that his superiors at the Department of Health and Human Services were “dismissive about my dire predictions” when he pushed them to ramp up production of masks, respirators and other critical supplies.

Dr. Bright made the same allegations in his whistle-blower complaint, which the department strongly denied.

“This is a personnel matter that is currently under review,” Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email last week. “However, H.H.S. strongly disagrees with the allegations and characterizations in the complaint from Dr. Bright.”

The Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency that is investigating the complaint, has notified Dr. Bright’s lawyers that it has found “reasonable grounds” that his dismissal was an act of retaliation and has recommended that he be reinstated for 45 days while their inquiry proceeds. A spokeswoman for the lawyers said the department had not yet responded to that request.

Dr. Bright is set to appear before the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, was released from prison on Wednesday and granted confinement in his home in Northern Virginia because of concerns over the virus, one of his lawyers, Todd Blanche, said.

Mr. Manafort had been in a minimum-security prison in Pennsylvania, serving a sentence of seven and a half years for financial and lobbying violations related to his work for a corrupt Ukrainian politician.

Prisons and jails across the country and the world have been hot spots for the spread of the virus, prompting calls to release inmates. Attorney General William P. Barr in April ordered a review to determine who among the 144,000 federal inmates could be safely released to home confinement.

That month, Mr. Manafort’s lawyers asked the Bureau of Prisons to release their client to home confinement. The lawyers said he was at high risk of contracting the virus because of his age, 71, and pre-existing health conditions, including being hospitalized in February after contracting the flu and bronchitis.

Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, had also been told he would be released to home confinement and was expected to be home by May 1. But officials have not moved him, and he remains in quarantine in Otisville, N.Y., a person familiar with his situation said.

Mr. Cohen is serving three years for violating campaign finance laws in part because of a hush money scheme to silence two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. The president has denied the affairs.

As hunger spreads across a locked-down nation, the Trump administration has balked at the simplest ways to feed the hardest hit, through expanding school meals programs and food-stamp benefits and waiving certain work requirements as unemployment reaches record levels.

Instead, the Agriculture Department is focusing on giving states more flexibility to feed residents through regulatory waivers, many of which expire at the end of the month.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, rates of household food insecurity have doubled and rates of childhood food insecurity have quadrupled, according to The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution.

The Agriculture Department has issued waivers giving states more administrative power over the agency’s 15 nutrition assistance programs, which cover children, women and infants, and adults. The department also plans to send more than five million food boxes a week to children living in rural areas who would have difficulty getting meals that are distributed at many schools.

Those waivers are modest: One allows school meals to be served outside of crowded settings; another allows meals to be distributed without some education activity. The department has allowed 22 states to receive additional assistance through an electronic transfer of benefits that accounts for the value of free and reduced-price meals that their children no longer receive because of school closures, an average of $114 a month per child.

Families in 21 states can use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to purchase groceries online, and other waivers have allowed states to issue emergency allotments that increase SNAP benefits to the maximum monthly allotment for all beneficiaries. That has expanded food assistance for some working poor families, but it does not increase help for the poorest, who already get the maximum benefit. The federal government has not moved to increase SNAP benefits by 15 percent, as Democrats have wanted.

But many of those waivers expire at the end of May, although Congress gave the department waiver authority through September. And on Tuesday, the department filed a notice that it would appeal a court ruling that blocked stricter work requirements for food stamps that were to take effect in April, stripping nearly 700,000 people from the food stamp rolls.

More signs of a rare and dangerous inflammatory syndrome that afflicts children and appears to be connected to the coronavirus are appearing in New York, where state health officials now investigating 102 cases, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday.

Of the state’s syndrome cases, 71 percent of them resulted in children being admitted to intensive care units, and 43 percent of the patients remained hospitalized, Mr. Cuomo said.

“As a parent, I can tell you, this is a parent’s worst nightmare,” he said.

The governor said 60 percent of the children showing symptoms of the syndrome had tested positive for the virus; 40 percent tested positive for antibodies.

Health officials believed the children might have been exposed to the virus weeks before they fell ill, Mr. Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that 82 cases had been reported in New York City, an increase of 30 from the previous day.

The dead included a 5-year-old boy, who died last week in New York City; a 7-year-old boy in Westchester County and an 18-year-old girl on Long Island.

New Jersey on Wednesday reported 18 cases of the syndrome in children, four of whom have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the state health commissioner.

Mr. Cuomo also said the number of new virus-related deaths had stayed under 200 for the third straight day, with another 166 deaths reported. The number of new virus hospitalizations has continued to stay at levels that preceded his statewide stay-at-home orders, which are set to expire on Friday. A fourth region upstate has now met the criteria to gradually reopen, he said.

Doug Mills, a New York Times photographer, captured Vice President Mike Pence arriving at the White House on Wednesday wearing a protective mask. The White House on Monday ordered all West Wing employees to don masks at work unless they were at their desks.

Both changes, which are expected to win approval on Friday, would be firsts for a tradition-bound body that has been loath to alter its rules, even with the advent of new digital technologies. After weeks of debate, they reflect the leaders’ conclusion that there may be no other way for Congress to fully function in the months to come as Covid-19 continues to spread in the capital and around the country.

The mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel E. Bowser, said Wednesday that the city was extending its stay-at-home order through June 8.

Democrats were close to adopting similar changes last month, but pulled back amid opposition by Republicans, saying they would seek consensus on the historic change. But those efforts were unsuccessful, and Friday’s vote is now expected to take place mostly along partisan lines.

The new rules would allow any member who was unable or unwilling to travel to the Capitol because of the pandemic to designate another lawmaker to cast votes on their behalf on the House floor.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer, a Democrat of Maryland, said he was disappointed Republicans were not backing the move, adding that several of their ideas had been included in the final proposal. Friday’s vote will authorize the House to study the feasibility of using technology for members to fully cast votes remotely, rather than using an in-person proxy.

In the Senate, leaders have steadfastly refused to consider similar remote voting arrangements. But many of its committees have already begun holding hybrid hearings, including a high-profile one on Tuesday with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the administration’s top infectious disease official, where lawmakers and witnesses are allowed to appear virtually through videoconferencing technology.

Republicans immediately panned the proposal, calling it “the most significant power grab in the history of Congress.” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the top Republican, called the proposal sloppy and self-serving for the majority party, and predicted it would forever alter our democratic institution for the worse.”

Hospitals across the country are filled with a curious sight these days: patients lying on their bellies.

Patients almost always lie on their backs, a position that helps nurses tend to them and allows them to look around if they’re awake. But for many patients, the crisis is literally flipping the script.

The surprisingly low-tech concept, called proning, can improve breathing in patients stricken by the respiratory distress that is the hallmark of the virus, doctors have found. It draws from basic principles of physiology and gravity. Lying on one’s stomach helps open airways in lungs that have become compressed by the fluid and inflammation unleashed by the virus infection.

When patients are on their backs, “the heart is now sitting on top of the lungs and compressing it even more,” said Dr. Michelle Ng Gong, chief of the divisions of critical care and pulmonary medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Montefiore Health System in the Bronx. “The rib cage cannot move in the usual way because it’s now up against the bed.”

But, she said, “When you flip the patient onto the belly, now the back of the lungs can start to open,” allowing more air sacs to function, she said.

In addition, a larger share of the lungs is in the back of the body than the front, meaning that patients on their stomachs don’t have to support as much lung weight.

Colorado is one of the few Democrat-led states to move fast to reopen.

While Republican governors and conservative protesters have led the charge to reopen their economies, Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado has moved faster than many of his fellow Democrats in allowing statewide stay-at-home orders to lapse and some businesses to reopen.

Mr. Polis and Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, a Republican, were meeting with Mr. Trump in the White House on Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Polis said this week he felt some “trepidation” about flying across the country, but that it was important for the president “to hear what’s really going on, on the ground: The fear, the anxiety, the health condition, the economic challenges the people of the country face.”

Their meetings came as Mr. Trump and Republicans in Washington have expressed reluctance to send aid to states that are grappling with a steep drop in tax collections, with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, objecting to what his office described as a “blue state bailout” to help states led by Democrats.

On Wednesday the National Governors Association, a bipartisan group, renewed its plea for aid.

“This is not a red state and blue state crisis,” its chairman, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, said in a statement with its vice chairman, Governor Cuomo of New York, a Democrat. “This is a red white and blue pandemic. The coronavirus is apolitical. It does not attack Democrats or Republicans. It attacks Americans.”

Throughout the crisis, Mr. Polis has given wonky news conferences touching on the rate of new infections, the state’s testing abilities and whether people are abiding by social-distancing guidance. Colorado now has more than 20,000 confirmed cases, though new cases have fallen since a peak last month. Hospitals and local leaders are watching anxiously whether those rates spring back.

Rocky Mountain National Park is preparing to reopen at the end of the month, and Colorado will decide by late May whether restaurants can resume dine-in service and whether shuttered ski resorts can spin the lifts for a few days of spring skiing. Gyms have even started to open at 30 percent of their capacity in one western Colorado county that got special permission from the state.

But Colorado is still confronting outbreaks at nearly 200 assisted-living facilities and nursing homes, and has tracked at least seven employee deaths at a JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley that closed briefly, but is now up and running again.

And tensions are boiling up over whether Colorado is reopening too quickly or too slowly. Reports about a cafe in the conservative suburbs south of Denver went viral over Mother’s Day weekend after it defied state orders and reopened to a packed house. The party ended quickly when the authorities declared it was an “imminent health hazard” and suspended its license.

In New Jersey starting Monday, all retail stores can open for curbside pickup, drive-in events for movies and religious gatherings will be allowed, and nonessential construction can resume, Gov. Philip D. Murphy said on Wednesday.

“We’re moving slowly and deliberately because any misstep risks further outbreaks,” he said. “We want to be quick, but we want to be right.”

The state reported 197 fatalities on Wednesday, the sixth consecutive day that the number stayed under 200.

Online sales in the United States have surged since the middle of March, when shelter-in-place measures shuttered brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country.

While the shutdowns immediately altered how people spent their money, the patterns have continued to shift as the weeks have gone on, new data shows, shaped by waves of panic buying and payouts of government aid. (Online groceries, and video games, are big.) The latest bump in online spending came after the government sent out stimulus payments to tens of millions of households beginning April 11.

Beyond what might be temporary shifts, consumer habits appear to be changing in ways that may well endure beyond the pandemic and determine who will become the most important online players, writes Nathaniel Popper, who covers finance and technology.

Los Angeles County’s beaches began to reopen on Wednesday, but local officials maintained some restrictions and insisted that beachgoers generally remain six feet from each other.

With the easing of the county’s rules, people are now allowed to swim or exercise in the ocean, — surfers were in the water around daybreak — or walk or run on the sand. They are forbidden, though, from sunbathing, picnicking, biking or playing group sports like volleyball. Most people are required to wear face coverings when they are not in the water.

Los Angeles County officials have reported at least 1,613 deaths from the virus and more than 33,000 confirmed cases.

Although some beaches in California were reopening on Wednesday, Florida officials said parts of their shoreline would remain shut down, possibly into June. The authorities in a handful of South Florida counties have said they are coordinating with each other to plan full reopenings in the region.

Elsewhere in the South, Hilton Head Island, S.C., officials said that more beach access points will reopen on Friday. And in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the beaches are already open, visitors will be allowed entry to the area beginning on Saturday.

The aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt continued its monthslong fight against the virus, with at least one sailor aboard the ship testing positive, according to crew members.

The infected sailor, who had tested negative before reboarding the Roosevelt, was quickly whisked off the ship, which is docked in Guam as Navy officials make preparations for the vessel to deploy. The episode underscores the stubborn challenges facing top Navy officials as a second investigation into the service’s handling of Covid-19 — this one by the Defense Department’s inspector general — got underway this week.

Navy officials said they had been aggressively screening and testing as crew members returned to the ship after quarantining in Guam over the last month. Officials on the Roosevelt, they say, are doing everything from requiring masks to repeated cleaning and sanitizing to prevent another outbreak like the one in March, which infected about 1,100 crew members.

As education moves online, some student passwords are easy to hack.

Selecting and storing secure passwords is a hard-enough concept for many adults. Now, as millions of students log into daily lessons across the country, at least one of America’s largest school districts is being criticized for not doing enough to protect student accounts.

A journalist and father of a student in the district, in Palm Beach County, Fla., says he has revealed a security flaw in the way the district uses Google Classroom: a simplistic elementary school password formula that makes it easy for students to log into others’ accounts.

Andrew Colton, the editor and publisher of, a local site, reported Tuesday that just by knowing another child’s name, a student could easily deduce that child’s password. In at least one incident, a young child logged in as a peer and posted inappropriate content during an online lesson, he said.

The School District of Palm Beach County acknowledged a single incident, but said it was not aware of any widespread security breaches among its 176,000 students. On Tuesday, the district rolled out the ability for younger students and their parents to change passwords independently, and now plans to advise them to do so.

Keith Oswald, the district’s deputy superintendent, said Palm Beach County was continuing to learn how to take tools originally used within school buildings and adapt them to heavy home use. About 70 percent of students are using Google Classroom on a typical weekday, he said, while others are watching lessons broadcast on local television stations.

The virus spreading around the globe “may never go away,” becoming a long-term fact of life that must be managed, not an enemy that can be permanently eradicated, a top World Health Organization official said on Wednesday.

“This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” Mike Ryan, head of the organization’s health emergencies program, said at a news briefing. “H.I.V. has not gone away but we’ve come to terms with the virus and we have found the therapies and we have found the prevention methods, and people don’t feel as scared as they did before.”

“There are no promises in this and there are no dates,” he said, tamping down expectations that the invention of a vaccine will provide a quick and complete end to what has become a global health and economic calamity. A good vaccine might be developed, but there is no telling when, he added, calling it “a moon shot.”

If infected people become immune or resistant, then when enough people have had the virus, there will be fewer left who can catch it or spread it, making outbreaks more manageable. But no one knows how long that will take.

“The current number of people in our population who’ve been infected is actually relatively low,” Dr. Ryan said.

Reporting was contributed by Alexandra Alter, Karen Barrow, Pam Belluck, Alan Blinder, Helene Cooper, Michael Cooper, Carla Correa, Maria Cramer, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Manny Fernandez, Lazaro Gamio, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Michael Gold, Dana Goldstein, Denise Grady, Matthew Haag, Maggie Haberman, Jack Healy, Shawn Hubler, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Sheila Kaplan, Annie Karni, Sharon LaFraniere, Michael Mason, Marc Santora, Eric Schmitt, Dionne Searcey, Michael D. Shear, Jeanna Smialek, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, Katie Thomas and Daisuke Wakabayashi.

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Hasidic Jews & NYC Coronavirus — Jewish Mothers and Children Attacked in Brooklyn

According to this report in the New York Daily News, there was a cruel and vicious attack on Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn on Sunday:

A husband and wife face hate crime charges after jumping out of their car in Brooklyn and attacking a group of Hasidic Jews, pulling protective masks from the victims’ faces and blaming them for spreading coronavirus, police said Monday.

Paulo Pinho, 35, and his wife, Clelia Pinho, 46, pulled up in their vehicle at Bedford Ave. and Ross St. in Williamsburg shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Sunday to confront the victims, according to cops.

“You Jews are getting us all sick,” the couple allegedly yelled at a trio of men, according to police sources. “The mayor says you Jews are the reason we’re getting sick.”

Moshe Rosenbaum, 39, one of the victims, said Paulo Pinho stepped out of the car and was recording people on his cell phone.

“They came into our area to videotape us without masks,” Rosenbaum said. “But we all had masks on. So he started ripping off the masks of females, mothers with small children.”

Hasidic Jews were subject to evil attacks on Brooklyn streets and worse, as we know before all of this coronavirus business. Bill de Blasio’s recent message “to the Jewish community” and threat to shut down places of worship was dangerous because it kindles flames that we all know exist, and at a time of such anxiety for so many. (And then there is the disregard it shows for religious freedom, and at a time when people are struggling with the kind of existential questions religion sure can help with.) Yes, the funeral he was responding to broke the gathering rules so many of us have been cooperating with. As someone who is longing for Mass and heartbroken for the families who haven’t been able to have funeral Masses for their beloved who have died, I certainly understand though (surely more than I understand anti-Semitism).

Yesterday on his radio show, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan had religious leaders on talking about people’s need for community and navigating things forward, easing worship in with protections. People need God. People want God. There’s so much seeking going on right now — God is seeking us in this time, reminding us that there’s something greater than days filled with press conference viewing and Zoom meetings. Let’s be careful and be patient with one another. I remarked on social media earlier that I don’t think I’ve appreciated the sun as much as I have during these coronavirus weeks. Staying connected to the Source of all light, we can be light amidst darkness as we combat evil in all its forms for the protection of human life, especially our most vulnerable.

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U.S. governors unite in plea for federal aid to fight pandemic

By Maria Caspani and Doina Chiacu

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. governors from both political parties on Wednesday urged leaders in Washington to abandon partisanship and deliver relief to cities and states facing economic disaster in their efforts to battle what they called a “red, white and blue pandemic.”

The plea followed the unveiling on Tuesday of a $3 trillion-plus coronavirus relief package by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The proposal would provide funding for states, businesses and families. [nL1N2CU1J5]

Without specifically mentioning Tuesday’s bill, which faces a challenge from Republicans, the bipartisan National Governors Association asked Congress to deliver “urgent state fiscal relief.”

“This is not a red state and blue state crisis … It does not attack Democrats or Republicans. It attacks Americans,” the association’s chair, Maryland’s Larry Hogan, a Republican, and its vice chair, New York’s Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, wrote in a statement citing colors applied to their respective parties.

“The nation’s governors are counting on our leaders in Washington to come together, put partisanship aside, and to get this done for the American people,” they said.

The legislation includes nearly $1 trillion in long-sought assistance for state and local governments bearing the brunt of a pandemic that has infected nearly 1.4 million people in the United States and killed more than 82,000.

Republicans in Congress want to hold off on new coronavirus relief until an assessment of the impact of nearly $3 trillion in assistance that Congress allocated since early March.

“It’s dead on arrival here,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said of the House bill.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday called the U.S. response to date “particularly swift and forceful,” but also called for additional fiscal spending to mitigate the effects of lockdowns that have shuttered businesses and forced tens of millions of Americans out of work. [nU5N2BQ002]

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, the city hardest hit by the pandemic, urged U.S. President Donald Trump, a native New Yorker who is running for a second term in November, to be “the difference maker” and back the additional funding.

“Mr. President, we’re looking to you. Your hometown is looking to you and cities and states all over the country,” de Blasio said at his daily briefing.


The shape of restrictions imposed because of the crisis remained a patchwork on Wednesday, with New Jersey and Iowa unveiling tentative steps to resurrect commerce and Washington, D.C., extending its stay-at-home order through June 8.

State and city officials, torn between battling the outbreak and restoring business and social life, have often acted along partisan lines, sometimes even within individual jurisdictions.

In Texas, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton told Democratic leaders in three counties and two cities that their local pandemic health requirements were stricter than Governor Greg Abbott’s own orders – and therefore unlawful.

Paxton on Tuesday wrote to the mayors of San Antonio and Austin and leaders in Dallas, Bexar and Travis counties that they were confusing “recommendations with requirements and have grossly exceeded state law to impose their own will on private citizens and businesses.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that his guidelines were modeled on the governor’s. “I ask the public to make decisions based on the recommendations of public health professionals: our lives depend on it,” he wrote.

In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said rallies by armed militia groups against her stay-at-home orders had undermined efforts to stanch the pandemic.

“I am going to make decisions based on facts, not based on political rhetoric or tweets,” she said on Wednesday.

Michigan, which Trump won narrowly as a Republican in the 2016 presidential election, is also considered a swing state that could decide whether he wins a second term in November.

In California, Tesla Inc and officials reached a deal to allow production to resume at the electric vehicle maker’s assembly plant in Fremont as early as Monday, county officials said. Earlier this week, CEO Elon Musk vowed to defy authorities to open the plant. [nL1N2CV0SX]

Two Canadian government sources said on Wednesday that Canada and the United States appeared likely to extend a ban on non-essential travel until June 21. Their border is a crossing point for one of the world’s largest trading relationships. [nL1N2CV0J7]

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York, Doina Chiacu and Makini Brice in Washington, Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago, Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Writing by Sonya Hepinstall; Editing by Howard Goller)