Donald Trump has concluded his White House event to address protections for seniors. Although this was not billed as a coronavirus briefing, like his White House event yesterday — it really seemed like one.
Trump veered off-topic, took questions from reporters, made the same misleading assertions he’s made at previous coronavirus briefings ( I’ve fact-checked a few of them below).
Before signing off the president wondered out loud whether he should wear a mask when he travels to Arizona next week, leaving Washington for the first time in more than a month, in order to visit a Honeywell aerospace facility that has transitioned to producing N-95 masks.
“I’ll have to see the climate,” Trump said, adding that he would “have no problem wearing a mask.”
“Should I speak in a mask?” he asked. “Is that politically correct?
A Democratic congressional candidate is arguing that a member of the committee in charge of overseeing stimulus money should step down over past comments she made on vaccines.
The Guardian’s senior political reporter Daniel Strauss reports:
The candidate, Democrat Suraj Patel, is running for New York congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s seat. On Wednesday, Maloney was appointed to the Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, a new oversight committee.
Here’s Patel’s statement:
Carolyn Maloney spent decades as an anti-vaccine movement leader giving validity to a dangerous creed threatening public health and the most vulnerable.
The history of Maloney’s anti-vaccine stances is long and dangerous: she authored ani-vaccine legislation; angrily berated a CDC Director during a congressional hearing because the CDC Director would not agree that vaccines cause autism; led a radical group of activists in a ‘Green the Vaccine’ rally outside of the steps of Congress; hosted radical anti-vaccine activists in Congress; and regularly claimed vaccines were as dangerous as smoking.
It is dangerous and unthinkable to elevate her anti-science voice during the coronavirus crisis. The world is waiting on a vaccine to bring this horror to an end. This is no time to hand the mic to someone who endangers public health by questioning science. Appointing her to this position begs the question: How is a committee tasked with overseeing the development of a COVID-19 vaccine credible if Maloney, an anti-vaccine activist that questions the CDC’s scientific findings on vaccines, is one of its leaders?
Now more than ever we need elected officials who trust doctors, medicine, and science. Maloney does not fit the bill. I call on Speaker Pelosi to remove Representative Maloney from the Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis sending a message to America’s doctors and scientists: we will always follow your lead.
Maloney, who’s been a member of Congress for over 25 years, has had to walk back past statements questioning the safety of vaccines for children. In a 2012 congressional testimony on autism, according to the New York Post, Maloney said:
And you’ve got to listen, you know, to — I remember smoking. I was on the City Council. I sat through so many hearings where they vowed smoking was not bad for your health. It’s common sense it was bad for your health…The same thing seems to be here with vaccinations. There’s too much verbal evidence coming from parents where they break down,[and say], ‘I had a normal child, I gave him a vaccination, and then they came down with autism.’
More recently a spokesperson for Maloney has said she does not believe there’s a link between vaccinations and autism.
On Wednesday Maloney was named by House speaker Nancy Pelosi to the bipartisan Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Maloney is one of seven Democrats named to the committee. The committee is a high profile perch for a member of Congress. It is charged with oversight of the coronavirus stimulus package passed in Congress.
Fact check: Is the virus manmade?
Trump said he can’t say why, but he’s confident that the coronavirus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
But the office of the director of national intelligence has said the intelligence community does not believe coronavirus was manmade. In a statement, the Office of the DNI said: “The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”
“The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
Fact check: Travel ban
Trump says the US is “very lucky” that he enacted a travel “ban” on China and a “ban on Europe”.
In fact, the administration’s travel policy did not “cut off” all travel — from China. Although non-US citizens were prohibited from entering the country if they had traveled to China within the previous two weeks, American citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members were exempt. Similarly, Trump’s European travel restrictions exempted citizens, residents and their families. And initially, the restrictions didn’t apply to the UK and Ireland, as well as most Eastern European countries.
Epidemiologists have told the Guardian that these policies likely had little impact, as they were enacted after the virus was already spreading within the US.“Unfortunately, travel bans sound good,” noted Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health, after Trump announced European restrictions. “But we’re way past the point where simply restricting travel is a reasonable response.”
The few studies so far that have investigated the impact of travel restrictions have found that such policies may have at best delayed the spread of disease by a few days or weeks. A recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that travel restrictions and airport screenings in several countries “likely slowed the rate of exportation from mainland China to other countries, but are insufficient to contain the global spread of COVID-19. And in China, where officials shut down travel both in and out of Wuhan, the city where the Covid-19 outbreak began, the travel ban barely slowed the spread of diseases, according to a report published in Science.
But there is no evidence that travel restrictions ultimately stopped the spread of coronavirus, or significantly reduced the contagion’s death toll.
Fact check: Testing
The president, as he’s done at multiple coronavirus press briefings, noted that the US has conducted about 6m coronavirus test. “You add up everybody together they don’t add up to that,” Trump said, implying, as he’s done before that the US has done more testing than other countries combined.
This is not true. Countries around the world have together conducted more than 6m tests.
Moreover, while testing in the US has ramped up after an initially slow start, the US lags behind other countries in testing per capita. Currently, the US is testing about 1 in every 52 people.
Trump said he’ll ‘certainly consider’ bringing Michael Flynn back into his administration
The president said he hasn’t ruled out pardoning Flynn, a former national security adviser who pled guilty to lying to the FBI about communicating with a Russian ambassador.
During a White House event addressing how the government will protect seniors, Trump once again complained about the treatment of Flynn.
Hi there, this is Maanvi Singh — blogging from the West Coast.
Donald Trump is still speaking at a White House event, where he has been delivering remarks on protecting America’s seniors, and is taking questions from reporters.
at 10.09pm BST
Today so far
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
Another 3.8 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to the latest data from the labor department. More than 30 million Americans have submitted unemployment claims in the past six weeks.
The office of the director of national intelligence said the intelligence community does not believe coronavirus was manmade. The new statement comes amid reports that Trump has asked intelligence officials to investigate whether the virus originated from a Chinese government laboratory.
The New York subway will close for nightly cleaning. The transit system will close between 1 am and 5 am ervery night to allow the subway cars to be thoroughly disinfected.
Another protest broke out at Michigan’s state capitol. The demonstrators, some of whom were carrying assault rifles, railed against Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
Georgia will lift its statewide shelter-in-place order for most residents starting tomorrow. Republican governor Brian Kemp said the order remained in effect for the elderly and the “medically fragile,” and he urged residents to still stay at home as much as possible.
Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Trump just announced he will sign a proclamation today declaring the month of May to be Older Americans Month.
Speaking at the White House, the 73-year-old president joked about his age, saying, “I don’t know if I’m in that category. I have a feeling I am. But I feel good.”
Trump’s announcement comes as polls indicate that Americans who are 65 or older are increasingly critical of the president’s handling of the pandemic.
Trump will need the support of older Americans to have any chance of winning the presidential election in November, so this proclamation is likely meant to appease some of his elderly supporters.
In his speech announcing the proclamation, the president also took credit for a 2014 bill that was signed into law by Barack Obama.
During somnambulant coronavirus speech at the White House, Trump takes credit for Veterans Choice legislation that was actually signed into law by President Obama in 2014 pic.twitter.com/Bgfa1e6UNz
April 30, 2020
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports on the latest from California:
Californians in many parts of the state are breathing a sigh of relief after governor Gavin Newsom announced temporary closures of beaches only in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, instead of closures of beaches statewide, like previous reports had indicated.
San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer welcomed the news on Twitter after chiding the governor for the expected statewide beach-ban.
Great news: the Governor heard us. San Diego beaches WILL STAY OPEN under our plan approved by lifeguards and health officials. In a time of great crisis we don’t need knee-jerk policies. We need to keep a steady hand. It’s the only way to keep the public’s trust. Keep it up, SD!
April 30, 2020
But the news is sure to provoke residents of Orange County, where more than 200 protestors last weekend took to the streets, in defiance of statewide restrictions, to call for a reopening of the economy. And reports are already emerging of another rally planned for noon tomorrow.
BREAKING: Governor Newsom has just announced he will order ALL beaches in ONLY Orange County closed, rather than all beaches in state as memo said. He called recent crowds at OC beaches “disturbing”. There is a protest planned at Huntington Beach pier tomorrow at noon. @FOXLA
April 30, 2020
While health experts hold firm on the importance of social distancing and hygiene, the reaction to beach closures has been mixed. This week, public health experts and epidemiologists told the Guardian’s Sam Levin that some of the backlash and concern may be unwarranted.
One public health professor said he was initially shocked by the photos showing densely packed beaches, but said it was possible that those who are grouped together could be from the same household. Other experts pointed out that some of the conditions at beaches — like salt water, sand and sunlight — could make it more difficult for the virus to spread from person to person. Experts say the virus doesn’t survive long in ultraviolet light, although light cannot kill a virus already in the body, as Trump has suggested.
“If allowing people to have access to sunshine and recreation is what’s going to keep them from protesting and violating laws, that may be a trade-off worth making,” said Wendy Parmet, a Northeastern University health policy expert.
Mike Pence said he found the government’s treatment of Michael Flynn to be “deeply troubling,” as the president signals he is considering a possible pardon of his former national security adviser.
NEWS: Asked about Mike Flynn, Pence tells us: “When you see the nature of abusive actions by justice department officials toward him, it’s deeply troubling.” He stopped short of saying Flynn shouldn’t have been fired. pic.twitter.com/wOyf8sryBX
April 30, 2020
“I think Gen. Michael Flynn is a patriotic American who served with great distinction in the armed forces,” Pence told reporters while visiting a General Motors plant in Indiana.
“I’m deeply troubled by the revelations of what appears to have been investigative abuse by officials in the Justice Department and we are going to continue to look into that very carefully.”
Trump renewed speculation about whether he would pardon Flynn earlier today, when he sent a tweet criticizing the government for its handling of the Flynn case.
Donald J. Trump
What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!
April 30, 2020
It’ s important to note that Flynn himself pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the US and went on to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
But many of the president’s supporters now claim the prosecution of Flynn’s case was unjust and have urged Trump to pardon the former official, raising concerns about the president using his power to protect his allies.
Newsom announces closure of Orange County beaches
The Guardian’s Mario Koran reports on the latest from California:
California governor Gavin Newsom announced today that beaches in Orange County would be closed starting Friday, after pictures showed dense crowds of beach-goers last weekend.
Unlike earlier reports — which said the governor would close all parks and beaches statewide — the closure is targeted to Orange County, south of Los Angeles.
“Orange County has been on our list of health concerns,” Newsom said at a news conference, adding that the county is among the top four problem areas of the state.
Newsom said that the previous, erroneous reports were not generated by his office and that he’s been clear and consistent about his plans.
“Bottom line, that was their memo, but that memo never got to me. We’ve been consistent, clear, transparent, talking about this every day, and we’re just trying to focus on where there’s a problem in a smart and strategic way. This is our determination to be led by data.”
April 30, 2020
Reports of the statewide beach closures sparked outrage in pockets across the state and even drew pushback from mayors. San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer welcomed the apparent turn of events.
San Diegans have been following the rules set by our public health officials and lifeguards since beaches reopened this week. A sudden state ban on every single beach — regardless of the facts on the ground — sends the wrong message to regions where people are acting responsibly. https://t.co/CLJkPgEGlx
April 30, 2020