Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, signed an executive order a little earlier that he hopes will give voters a choice and make sure they “don’t feel like they have to go into a concentrated, dense environment where they feel like their health is at risk” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s no safer, physically distancing way to exercise your right to vote than from the safety and convenience of your own home,” said California secretary of state Alex Padilla. Voters will still have the option to vote in person, he said.
The executive order came as Newsom modified the statewide stay-at-home order, ushering California into the next phase of coronavirus response.
Certain non-essential retailers around the state can now offer curbside pickup, meaning roughly 70% of the state’s economy can now reopen with modifications.
No more financial rescue legislation in May for coronavirus – Kudlow
The White House has halted talks with Congress over any further coronavirus stimulus package for the crippled US economy – as it waits for more information about how US state re-openings affect the economy, White House top economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters this afternoon.
The Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic party-dominated House of Representatives have already passed four major bills to address the novel coronavirus outbreak, including three aimed at stabilizing the economy as most Americans have sheltered in place and unemployment has soared.
Democrats, who control the House, are pushing for a vote as soon as next week on another massive coronavirus relief bill that would include more money for state and local governments, coronavirus testing and the US Postal Service, Reuters writes.
They also have been arguing with Republicans over oversight of the trillions of dollars being disbursed by the federal government in response to the crisis, with Republicans charging that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created a subcommittee on the crisis in order to attack Donald Trump as he runs for re-election in November.
The panel made its first official action today, sending letters demanding that large, public corporations immediately return taxpayer funds received under the bailout bills, which were intended for small businesses.
Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, told reporters that formal talks with Congress have paused for May.
“Well we just had another big infusion,” Kudlow said with regard to why there was a pause in talks.
In a separate interview on Bloomberg Television, he said the Trump administration was making contingency plans for a second wave of potential cases of Covid-19, including later shutdowns.
Public health officials have cautioned against a fast and widespread restart to economic activity, saying it could lead to a second surge in infections.
Stocks rise on hopes that awful jobs report marks the bottom
That’s quite a headline from The Associated Press. Both dire and, perhaps, overly optimistic from the markets.
Wall Street rallied again on Friday after a terrible, unprecedented report on the US jobs market wasn’t quite as horrific as economists had forecast, The AP writes.
The S&P 500 climbed 1.4% in afternoon trading after the government said employers cut a record-busting 20.5 million jobs last month.
While the number is a nightmare, it was slightly below the 21 million that economists told markets to brace for. More importantly, investors are betting they won’t see another report that bad again because the number of workers filing for unemployment benefits has been slowly declining the last five weeks.
Stocks around the world were already heading higher before the US jobs report came out, in part on hopes that US and China won’t restart their trade war.
After the release of the report, stocks climbed even more. In another sign of receding pessimism, Treasury yields tentatively rose.
“In some aspects, investors are starting to look at it as the worst is behind us,” said. Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management.
It’s not clear whether or when Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller would have chosen to reveal her own diagnosis for coronavirus if it hadn’t all happened so publicly this morning.
The first indications came when the Vice President’s flight to Iowa was held up for at least an hour, and some individuals disembarked from Air Force Two, who had apparently been in contact with Miller.
Then the president, as it were, let the Kate out of the bag:
And once again, Kellyanne Conway’s husband is not impressed by his wife’s boss.
at 3.58pm EDT
Trump says coronavirus will go away without vaccine – but shows no evidence
The US president said a little earlier at his event with Republican lawmakers in Washington that coronavirus “will go away without a vaccine”.
He didn’t offer any evidence for what he was talking about. He noted that there may be “some flare ups” in the fall, or “next year”.
“[Viruses] die too, like everything else,” he said.
at 3.44pm EDT
Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller has reportedly confirmed to the media that she tested positive for coronavirus this morning.
There is growing consternation about to what extent people working in the White House, from the president on down, have been exposed to Covid-19 while not practicing social distancing, wearing face masks, using gloves, frequent hand cleansing, etc.
Earlier, WH press sec Kayleigh McEnany had pointed to new steps taken to further protect top officials, noting the White House is now conducting contact tracing and putting in place all guidelines recommended for essential workers, Reuters writes.
“We’ve taken every single precaution to protect the president,” McEnany insisted to reporters at a White House news briefing. She also pointed to regular cleanings and adherence to distancing guidelines of six feet between individuals that are not always followed at crowded White House events.
“We’ve done every single thing that Dr. (Deborah) Birx and Dr. (Anthony) Fauci have asked us to do,” she added, referring to highly respected physicians on the White House coronavirus task force.
This morning Trump was asked in a Fox News interview whether those who serve him food would now cover their faces. “They’ve already started,” he said
Coronavirus whistleblower case may be retaliation – federal watchdog
A federal investigative office has found “reasonable grounds to believe” that the Trump administration was retaliating against a whistle-blower, Rick Bright, when he was ousted from a government research agency combating the coronavirus.
The New York Times reports that the agency further said, according to Bright’s lawyers, that Bright
Should be reinstated for 45 days while it investigates.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports that the lawyers, Debra S. Katz and Lisa J. Banks, said in a statement that they were notified late Thursday afternoon that the Office of Special Counsel, which protects whistle-blowers, had “made a threshold determination” that the Department of Health and Human Services “violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by removing Dr. Bright from his position because he made protected disclosures in the best interest of the American public.”
The finding comes just days after the lawyers filed a whistle-blower complaint saying that Dr. Bright’s removal last month as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was intended as payback. They said Dr. Bright, who was reassigned to a narrower job at the National Institutes for Health, had tried to expose “cronyism” and corruption at the Department of Health and Human Services while pressing for a more robust virus response and opposing the stockpiling of anti-malaria drugs championed by President Trump.
However, the Times further notes that the recommendation is not binding. A year ago, the same office said counsel to the president Kellyanne Conway should be fired for repeatedly violating legal prohibitions on using her position for political purposes. The president ignored the recommendation.
Donald Trump was asked at his meeting with Republican lawmakers earlier who on Mike Pence’s staff had tested positive for coronavirus.
He said: “She is a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and then all of sudden she tested positive. She has not come into contact with me, she spent some time with the Vice President. It’s, I believe, the press person, so she tested positive out of the blue.”
Pence’s press secretary has coronavirus
The staffer at the White House who tested positive for coronavirus this morning is Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, Donald Trump just confirmed.
Katie Miller (nee Waldman) is married to the top adviser to the president, Stephen Miller.
The White House strongly defended its efforts earlier to protect Trump and Pence from catching coronavirus.
at 2.48pm EDT
Trump increases estimated Covid-19 toll
Donald Trump is at an event with Republican lawmakers in Washington, after a morning that included a visit to the WWII memorial and a press briefing by WH press sec Kayleigh McEnany.
The US death toll from coronavirus just passed 76,000 and the president has reportedly floated that he now expects it to reach 95,000 or above.
at 2.49pm EDT