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Why the Pandemic Is So Bad in America

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No signs Trump has pandemic plan despite chilling warnings from administration’s top doctors

Top administration officials in recent days have repeatedly delivered information and warnings that directly contradict Trump’s upbeat messaging on Friday on the virus: “We’ll get rid of it, we’ll beat it, and it will be soon.”

Dr. Deborah Birx delivered a series of stunning warnings on CNN’s “State of the Union” five months into a pandemic that the President once said posed no threat to Americans but has now killed more than 150,000 of them.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, told CNN’s Dana Bash.

Birx even suggested that some Americans in multi-generational families should start wearing masks in their home and assume that they already have the disease. She did not reject a warning by former Federal Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb that there could be 300,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of the year, saying, “Anything is possible.”

“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” Birx said. Her comments came after her colleague, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told a House committee on Friday it was “unclear” how long the crisis will last. But the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Americans to brace for an average of 1,000 deaths a day for the next 30 days.

And while there are some signs that infections have plateaued in sunbelt states in the last week, albeit at high levels, Birx’s words suggest new epicenters are looming, a situation hardly consistent with Trump’s description of “embers” of infection. The President speaks optimistically about a coming vaccination — though experts say it could still be months away — and boasts about advances in therapeutics and of building thousands of ventilators. But the horrible statistics of the pandemic are relentless with 1,000 Americans dying almost every day. And the administration response appears — as it has from the start — short of the scale needed to beat back the worst public health crisis in 100 years.

‘Assume you are infected’

With a vaccine still lacking, Birx also warned that too many Americans were not taking the virus sufficiently seriously, in another jarring disconnect from the President’s messaging.

“Across America right now, people are on the move … as I traveled around the country, I saw all of America moving. I think it’s our job, as public health officials, to be able to get a message to each American that says, if you have chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and protect those with comorbidities and assume you’re infected.”

Despite the worsening crisis, there is no sign of a new administration approach, or evidence of an effort to set up the massive testing and tracing nationwide program that experts say is needed to finally get a handle on the crisis.

But surprisingly, Birx said the administration had already re-examined its approach.

“I think the federal government reset about five to six weeks ago when we saw this starting to happen across the South,” she told Bash.

At the start of a rough six-week period that saw the virus surge unimpeded through Florida, Texas, Arizona and other states that Trump pressured to open before the pathogen was under control, Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the coronavirus task force, declared in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the US is “winning the fight” and there “isn’t a ‘second wave.'”
Birx has faced criticism for becoming too compliant with the administration’s political line rather than following the science where it leads.

Birx defended herself on “State of the Union” after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she didn’t have confidence in the veteran public health official because she was an appointee of a President who is spreading disinformation.

“I have never been called Pollyannish or non-scientific or non-data-driven,” Birx said on “State of the Union.”

Birx contradicted the President’s call for schools to open everywhere, saying that where there is a high caseload and active community spread, where people shouldn’t go to bars or have house parties, they should “distance-learn at this moment so we can get this epidemic under control.”

Another senior administration official involved in the fight against the pandemic, testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir, contradicted the President’s fresh touting of hydroxychloroquine last week as a potential treatment for Covid-19.

“At this point in time, there’s been five randomized controlled, placebo controlled trials, that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine,” Giroir said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

“I think most physicians and prescribers are evidence-based and they’re not influenced by whatever is on Twitter or anything else,” he said. “And the evidence just doesn’t show that hydroxychloroquine is effective right now.”

Trump’s disconnect on the crisis

Far from showing that he understand the depths of the calamity and has a plan to address it, Trump spent the weekend spreading lies and disinformation in between two trips to his golf course in Virginia, again underscoring how he has declined to adopt the leadership role that would have been expected from a traditional president during a grave national crisis.

He again falsely claimed that the only reason there are more cases of the virus is because the US is doing new testing. He gloated about “Big China Virus breakouts” in nations where reopenings have caused viral spikes and where leaders did a better job in quelling the virus than he did in the United States. Trump also claimed falsely that the media was not reporting on such hotspots around the world.

The President also launched a new attack on Fauci, who said last week that the reason Europe did better containing the initial pandemic was because it shut down far more of its economy that the President allowed in the US.

Trump’s tweets followed a report by Vanity Fair last week that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner worked on a secret national testing plan last spring before the approach was rejected, reportedly for political reasons, in favor of putting the responsibility for fighting the virus on individual governors. Since then, tens of thousands of Americans have died and experts say there still is not sufficient testing capacity to flatten the infection curve of the virus. Many test results are coming back far too slowly to be of any use controlling the spread of the disease. The White House says the premise of the article is wrong and misstates the facts.

Deadlock in stimulus talks

Hopes that a new coronavirus stimulus program could soon come to the rescue of millions of Americans who rely on federal unemployment payments to pay for food and rent were dashed as both sides in the talks dug in on Sunday.

Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are due to meet for further talks on Monday.

Pelosi rejected the administration’s argument that the $600 unemployment benefit was stopping Americans from returning to work but did not specifically say it was a deal breaker.

“The $600 is essential. It’s essential for America’s working families. And, again, to condescend, to disrespect their motivation is so amazing … how insistent the Republicans are about a working family and their $600 and how cavalier they are about other money that is going out,” the speaker said.

Mnuchin argued that the White House had proposed a one-week unemployment benefit extension of $600 as negotiations continued, but had been rebuffed by Democrats. Without giving details, the Treasury secretary also said he and Meadows made “three or four” other offers to the Democrats to deal with enhanced unemployment.

Unemployment “should be tied to some percentage of wages, the fact that we had a flat number was only an issue of an emergency,” Mnuchin said. “There are cases where people are overpaid, there are cases where people are underpaid. The issue is, we need to come up with an agreement to extend this,” Mnuchin said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that while “good progress” was made in the talks between the White House and Democrats, they are “not close” to an agreement yet.

That’s not very reassuring for struggling Americans whose unemployment assistance expired last week.

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Terrorist Boston Marathon Bomber Has Sentence Reduced Due to Jury Bias But Judge Amy Berman Jackson Ignored Same Jury Bias in Roger Stone Case

Terrorist Boston Marathon Bomber Has Sentence Reduced Due to Jury Bias But Judge Amy Berman Jackson Ignored Same Jury Bias in Roger Stone Case

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Trump campaign nears point of no return

Many of those voters will not immediately return their ballots, and it is difficult to predict when most ballots will be sent in. In a normal year in California, a populous state with a traditional 29-day mail ballot period, about half of the total mail vote typically is returned about 10 days before Election Day, said Paul Mitchell of Political Data Inc., a voter data firm used by both Republicans and Democrats in California.

Still, even a portion of the early vote could swing the election in competitive states decided by a relatively small number of votes.

In Minnesota, where Trump lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016 by only about 45,000 votes, early voting will start on Sept. 18. “If you’re talking about just winning on the margins here, and it being a close election … if you don’t have your s— together by Sept. 18, it’s going to be harder to catch up,” said Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chairman, Ken Martin.

In Arizona, where early voting starts Oct. 7, Steven Slugocki, Democratic Party chairman in the swing county of Maricopa, tells party activists that “Election Day is not Nov. 3. It’s October 7, and it goes until Nov. 3.”

He said, “I tell people all the time: Literally, you could win or lose in that first week, three weeks before Election Day.”

Republicans are scrambling to narrow Democrats’ mail voting advantage, with state and county parties appealing to voters to request mail ballots despite Trump’s rhetoric. In Minnesota, Republican phone-bankers are urging Trump supporters to request absentee ballots “so you can put more time and effort to helping our Republican candidates from President Trump and all GOP candidates up and down the ballot,” according to a call script obtained by POLITICO.

Jack Brill, acting chairman of the local Republican Party in Sarasota County, Fla., said his county party has “spent a ton of money” trying to increase Republican mail voting rates, and his family registered to vote by mail “to help the numbers.”

But Brill expects Republicans in his county will largely wait to swamp the polls on Election Day, as do party officials elsewhere. Jennifer Carnahan, chairwoman of the Minnesota Republican Party, said that while the party is making a “strong push” for absentee voting, “Election Day is still, as it stands now, the day when the majority of people vote.”

When it comes to undecided voters, it is becoming increasingly apparent to Republicans that the later the decision is made, the better. It is still possible that conditions surrounding the virus will improve, and even if they do not, Trump could damage Biden in the debates. Biden has profited from a period of the campaign in which he has largely remained secluded at his Delaware home.

Phillip Stephens, the Republican Party chairman in Robeson County, one of several North Carolina counties that shifted from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016, said that the “urgency is being felt by both sides.” Democrats want people to vote now, while Biden is still “in the basement,” he said, while Republicans need “to push a decision to Election Day as much as possible.”

But relying on Election Day voting can be hazardous. People forget to vote. Rain might diminish turnout. An outbreak of the coronavirus could scare potential voters away.

“Trump is going to dominate among Election Day voters,” said the longtime Republican pollster Glen Bolger. “But what if there’s bad weather in a part of a key state, or there’s a coronavirus outbreak and voters say, ‘Nah, I’m not going to stand in line and vote.’”

Rick Gorka, a Trump campaign spokesman, agreed that “Election Day isn’t on Nov. 3. GOTV [get-out-the-vote] starts the day after Labor Day.” But the Trump campaign disputes that the timeline is a problem for the president. If the election was held tomorrow, Gorka said, Trump would benefit from his large field and digital organization, which has been preparing for the general election — and making millions of door knocks and phone calls — since long before Biden became the nominee.

“What team does Joe Biden have in place to do get-out-the-vote efforts? He doesn’t have one,” Gorka said. “And voters, for the most part, don’t just show up … You have to beg, borrow, steal, annoy, persuade.”

Trump is working against a Democratic apparatus that is furiously trying to put the election out of reach before Election Day. Through the Biden-Democratic National Committee coordinated campaign, there are now hundreds of field staffers working on early voting efforts across the battleground states, a DNC official said. Priorities USA, the Biden campaign’s preferred big-money vehicle, is preparing to spend heavily on digital ads in August pushing Democratic-leaning voters without a history of voting by mail to request mail-in ballots, part of a $24 million vote-by-mail and voter mobilization program.

Patrick McHugh, Priorities’ executive director, said “Trump has a dwindling window of time” to turn the election in his favor. He put it at “about half the amount of time of the 100 days.”

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Local Paper Blasts Leaders After Violent Protest Was Allowed To Burn Through City

As often violent Black Lives Matter demonstrations drag on into their third month nationwide following the officer-involved death of George Floyd, one thing is for certain: The collective patience is wearing thin.

Nightly riots, looting and the razing of beloved cultural monuments have all become facts of life.

Largely unfamiliar, however, with the widespread boarding of businesses in their busiest metropolitan centers or the running newsreel of mask-clad punks setting fire to anything they can get their hands on, the American people have been driven to discomfort by the events of recent weeks.

Put plainly, this is the summer of our discontent — and this week, that discontent was given an indignant voice.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board sounded off on public servants and community leaders at every level Monday for their inability — or, more accurately, their unwillingness — to tamp down violent mob activity and protect American communities from the countless radical opportunists currently hijacking the justice reform conversation.

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“Where is the leadership?” editors Pamela Stallsmith, Robin Beres and Chris Gentilviso demanded to know, breaking down weeks of anarchy for their readers.

“When will our elected leaders say ‘enough’? Where are business, education and other community leaders in publicly condemning the violence?”

The scathing rebuke came after a weekend of violence in Virginia’s capital city of Richmond.

WARNING: Some of the following tweets contain vulgar language that some readers may find offensive.

According to The Washington Post, 23 people were arrested in connection with explosive late-night social justice demonstrations between July 25 and 26.

Almost from the onset of the massive marches, which were colored by repeat standoffs with local law enforcement, social media users and local news media figures on the ground reported violent actors were stepping out of the crowd to light fires and vandalize both public and private property.

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On Saturday night, rioters broke through a law enforcement perimeter outside the Richmond Police Department headquarters, peppering officers with anything they could manage to hurl and targeting the building itself with lasers and firecrackers, according to WRIC-TV.

Whole streets were left in disarray, a city dump truck was set ablaze (reportedly by a firework placed in its cab) and, when all was said and done, more than $100,000 in damages had been done to Virginia Commonwealth University alone.

Numerous sources would later indicate that a virtual flyer produced by an anonymous person or entity had played a major role sparking the violent demonstrations:

“F— THE FEDS. F— RPD. F— VSP. F— TRUMP,” the flyer calling for people to organize at a local park read. “DO WHAT YOU WANT. F— S— UP.”

They were hardly the words of a peaceable people seeking simply to advocate for social justice and reasonable police reform. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The flyer was all but an explicit call to violence, the likes of which we have already seen in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis and New York City — and the Times-Dispatch editorial board was anything but shy in saying so.

“Let us be clear: Saturday night’s violence was a planned riot,” the editorial board wrote. “Before the July 25 event, flyers promoting mayhem under the guise of ‘Richmond Stands with Portland’ circulated around the internet.

“Concerned citizens forwarded to friends, family and news media the angry, expletive-loaded circular urging people to meet at Monroe Park at 9:30 p.m.

“The disarray in downtown Richmond Saturday night should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched this city — and others across the country — overcome by waves of violent unrest over the past two months. The real questions continue to be: Who is behind it — and who will step up to stop it?”

Who was going to stop the violence?

Well, apparently not Democratic Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam or even Republican President Donald Trump. No, leaders at every level of government — and on both sides of the aisle, whether we would like to admit it or not — have been incredibly lackadaisical in stopping the violence.

Pre-emptive efforts have been all but none existent and response efforts have been tempered, even as rioters destroy private property and physically assault law enforcement officers and their fellow citizens

Only serving to exacerbate the problem is the fact that our leaders are more focused on which ideological movement is to blame for the violence after the fact than they are on stopping the anarchy on the front end.

In Richmond, rather than firmly enforce the rule of law last weekend, Stoney instead decided to address local media in the aftermath, blaming much of the violence on far-right white supremacist elements who had allegedly attempted to wreak havoc from within the Black Lives Matter crowd in order to shift public support against the movement.

“There were white supremacists marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter, attempting to undermine an otherwise overwhelmingly peaceful movement towards social justice,” Stoney said.

Now, it is important to note that some of this is true. The Daily Beast confirmed that members of the radical anti-government “boogaloo boys” movement, which has at times been known to mingle with racist elements, had been present on July 25 in conjunction with fringe social justice group BLM757.

But The Daily Beast, a far-left outlet, was also willing to admit Stoney had provided no evidence to support its claims those “boogaloo boys” had orchestrated the anarchy. In fact, the outlet indicated that folks from a variety of ideological backgrounds seem to have been arrested in connection with the violence.

Do you agree with the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board?

Only further investigation, of course, will reveal who was really to blame for the anarchy.

That, however, is actually beside the point.

“What we do know,” as the Times-Dispatch wrote, is that “the absence of leadership at all levels of government has compounded these circumstances. We’ve normalized too many behaviors that make Richmond — and the United States — a less safe and prosperous place to live.”

The average American could not care less about who is to blame for the anarchy now roiling the nation.

When your house is being burgled, you could not care less who the burglar is. You just want someone to put an end to the incident before you or someone you love is hurt.

It is about time our local, state and federal leaders became that someone.

“The public still is looking to Stoney, the Richmond City Council, Gov. Ralph Northam, the Virginia General Assembly and the White House for a way forward. And the solution won’t be found in a press conference, a tweet or staying silent. We all have eyes and see what’s going on in our city’s — and nation’s — backyard. When does this stop?” the editors rightly wrote.

“When will Stoney and City Council members acknowledge that putting down riots to protect lives and property is a very real function of their elected positions? Keeping mum and refusing to take action in fear of making tough decisions is not governing. It is cowardice. Enough is enough. Show some leadership.”

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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US entering ‘different’ phase of coronavirus outbreak

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America has reported around a quarter of the world’s infections

One of President Trump’s top medical advisers has warned that the US is entering a new phase in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Deborah Birx told CNN the disease was “extraordinarily widespread” across the country and a greater threat than when the outbreak first began.

She said it was now affecting rural areas as well as big cities.

She said rural communities were not immune and should wear masks and practice social distancing.

The US has recorded more cases and deaths than any other country.

According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, more than 4.6 million infections and at least 154,834 deaths have been confirmed in America.

Worldwide, nearly 18 million cases and at least 687,072 deaths have been reported.

What did Birx say?

“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” said Dr Birx, a leading member of the White House’s coronavirus task force.

“This epidemic right now is different and it’s more widespread and it’s both rural and urban.”

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Deborah Birx has urged people to return from holidays in any outbreak hotspots

She also shared her concerns about people taking holidays in hot spots, citing what she had seen while visiting 14 states during the last three weeks.

“As I travelled around the country, I saw all of America moving,” Dr Birx said. “If you have chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and protect those with co-morbidities and assume you’re infected.”

America’s outbreak has gained pace over the summer, particularly in southern and western states.

In another development, US House Speaker and leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi attacked Dr Birx, linking her to “disinformation” spread by President Trump.

Dr Birx responded that she always based her decisions on scientific data.

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Media caption‘We’re still waiting at home for them to come back’