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Since two White House aides tested positive for the coronavirus last week, officials who were potentially exposed have responded in a variety of ways, raising questions about how the administration is keeping the president, vice president and their staffs safe.

On Saturday night, a spokeswoman for Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease official, said he would be working from home sometimes. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “will be teleworking for the next two weeks,” according to a CDC spokesman. And Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, began to self-quarantine for two weeks, the FDA said late Friday.

Confirmed cases have surpassed 4 million worldwide, with more than 279,000 deaths.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Former president Barack Obama appeared to slam the Trump administration’s coronavirus response as an “absolute chaotic disaster” during a Friday night call, according to a recording obtained by Yahoo News and confirmed by an Obama representative.
  • The FDA issued an emergency authorization of a new antigen test to rapidly detect the virus.
  • Health officials are warning against Mother’s Day gatherings, including in a California city where a cluster of covid-19 cases has emerged among attendees of a recent birthday party.
  • In the latest clash over coronavirus-related restrictions, Tesla on Saturday filed a lawsuit against the California county that has prohibited the electric car company from producing vehicles during the outbreak.
  • Three children in New York have died of a mysterious inflammatory syndrome thought to be related to the coronavirus, officials said.
  • Confronted with the worst jobs report since the Great Depression, the White House and congressional Democrats aren’t even talking to each other about what — if anything — to do about it.

Oklahoma university’s virtual commencement hijacked with racist language, swastika

Faculty and staff at the Kramer School of Nursing at Oklahoma City University cheer as graduates participate in a drive-through pinning ceremony Thursday in Oklahoma City. (AP/Sue Ogrocki)

Saturday brought virtual graduations for students whose final months in college were upended by the coronavirus — and at one Oklahoma university, a commencement for hundreds that was hijacked. Local news station KFOR reported that a student was giving a blessing when, suddenly, a swastika and racial slur appeared on-screen.

It was an unusually public reminder of the security issues facing schools around the country forced to abruptly shift online.

“We are heartbroken and outraged at the hate-filled attack that occurred at the end of our virtual graduation celebration today,” Oklahoma City University President Martha Burger said in a statement tweeted out by the school. “During a time that should have been focused on recognizing our graduating students, an unknown source was able to bypass the system and display racist and offensive language.”

She said the university, a private institution enrolling more than 2,000 students, has contacted federal and state authorities and will help law enforcement officers as they try to identify whoever is behind the hack.

Burger did not share more details about the language shown and did not specify the platform, though KFOR reports it was a Zoom call. She said that the school “took safety precautions,” but “unfortunately the digital platform we used to connect has become a target.”

The Post reported last month that some school districts around the country were banning the use of Zoom for online learning during the coronavirus crisis because of growing concerns; Zoom said in a statement that it takes “user privacy, security, and trust extremely seriously.”

Burger ended her statement Saturday with a quote that a student read during the ceremony:

“Where there is injustice, may we not be silent. Where there is harm, may we be makers of peace. Where there is hate, may we be agents of love.”

Confronted with horrendous jobs report, White House and congressional Democrats aren’t even talking

President Trump speaks during an event to sign a proclamation in honor of National Nurses Day on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Confronted with the worst jobs report since the Great Depression, the White House and congressional Democrats aren’t even talking to each other about what — if anything — to do about it.

President Trump says he’s “in no rush” to take action given that nearly $3 trillion already has been approved in response to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus. House Democrats are taking the opposite tack, pressing forward to vote as soon as this coming week on a massive new relief bill that’s unlikely to win GOP support.

The disconnect shows how the bipartisan consensus that emerged in the early days of the pandemic, allowing Congress to produce four relief bills in rapid succession, has largely disappeared. In its place there is partisan finger-pointing and blame-shifting.

Fauci among White House task force members taking precautions after virus exposure

Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases official, will be taking precautions including working from home after White House coronavirus task force members were exposed, a spokeswoman for Fauci acknowledged Saturday night.

Two Trump administration aides were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus this past week: Vice President Pence’s spokeswoman Katie Miller and a military valet to the president. Their positive tests have underscored the challenge of maintaining a safe work environment for President Trump, Pence and their staffs, even as they have access to the kind of rapid testing that many officials around the country are still clamoring for.

Two of Fauci’s colleagues on the coronavirus task force, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, said they are self-quarantining or teleworking for two weeks after exposure to a coronavirus case at the White House.

At first on Saturday afternoon, the spokeswoman said Fauci — one of the administration’s most recognizable figures in the pandemic response — “is considered to be at relatively low risk based on the degree of his exposure. Nevertheless, he is taking appropriate precautions to mitigate risk to any of his personal contacts while still allowing him to carry out his responsibilities in this public health crisis.”

Then, hours later, the spokeswoman said Saturday night that the precautions include “a mix of teleworking and wearing a mask during in-person meetings.”

Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

UFC marks first major athletic event in the United States since sports’ shutdown

Vicente Luque, right, fights Niko Price during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla. (Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Saturday night’s Ultimate Fighting Championship was the first major athletic event to take place in the United States since drastic measures to slow the novel coronavirus shut down sports.

The return of athletic diversions through UFC 249, a series of mixed martial arts fights that aired on ESPN, came amid small steps toward normalcy for other professional leagues.

On Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers reopened practice facilities for players’ individual workouts. According to NBA rules, teams can have no more than four players in the facility at one time; the league also banned scrimmages. Major League Soccer has approved voluntary individual workouts for teams in cities where restrictions have eased. And the NFL released its upcoming schedule with teams beginning play in September, as normal.

Even so, other major American professional leagues have not projected restarts of season kickoffs, and concerns remain that fans may not be able to safely pack arenas and stadiums. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he does not anticipate fans attending NFL preseason games by August, and on Saturday, UFC 249 was held inside the relatively empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.

UFC 249 went on despite Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, one of the fighters on the card, testing positive for the coronavirus one day before stepping into the octagon. The positive test and the protocols around it prompted sharp criticism from an epidemiologist who described UFC and its president, Dana White, as “negligent” for returning so soon.

Tesla files suit in response to coronavirus restrictions after Musk threatens to relocate operations

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and chief executive of Tesla, Inc., listens during a Satellite 2020 Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 9. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Tesla on Saturday filed a lawsuit against the California county that has prohibited the electric car company from producing vehicles during the outbreak.

The company alleged in its suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, that Alameda County had violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and sought an injunction that would allow the company to operate.

The suit followed chief executive Elon Musk threatening in a series of tweets earlier Saturday that the company would sue and move Tesla’s headquarters and future programs to Texas and Nevada. He appeared to leave open the possibility of maintaining some operations in Fremont depending “on how Tesla is treated in the future.”

Musk’s tweets got some sympathetic responses from officials. The mayor of Fremont, where Tesla has a factory, said in a statement Saturday that she is “growing concerned about the potential implications for our regional economy,” mentioning “major manufacturing activity” including Tesla’s.

And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) urged Musk in a Saturday evening tweet to “Come to Texas!”

Democratic lawmakers criticize ‘mismanaged’ SBA loan program in letter to administrator

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). (Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg News)

Three Democratic senators are criticizing the Small Business Administration for slashing the size of its coronavirus disaster loans without telling Congress or small-business owners about the change, according to a letter reviewed by The Washington Post.

In a letter dated May 9 to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), Ben Cardin (Md.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) said the SBA has mismanaged an important federal aid program designed to help small businesses weather the economic crisis.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) is a long-standing program through which small businesses affected by disasters can receive low-interest loans directly from the government.

Early in the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America

Prestige Ameritech Executive Vice President Mike Bowen in Richland Hills, Tex. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

It was Jan. 22, a day after the first case of covid-19 was detected in the United States, and orders were pouring into Michael Bowen’s company outside Fort Worth, some from as far away as Hong Kong.

Bowen’s medical supply company, Prestige Ameritech, could ramp up production to make an additional 1.7 million N95 masks a week. He viewed the shrinking domestic production of medical masks as a national security issue, though, and he wanted to give the federal government first dibs.

But communications over several days with senior agency officials — including Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and emergency response — left Bowen with the clear impression that there was little immediate interest in his offer.

Hundreds of protesters gather at newly reopened California beach

Hundreds of protesters gathered Saturday at one of California’s newly reopened beaches to decry stay-at-home measures even as officials move to ease them.

Approximately 1,500 people swarmed the sidewalks near the Huntington Beach pier, according to local news reports, days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) reopened Orange County shores. A similar demonstration took place last week while the beach was still closed as part of efforts to prevent crowds that could spread the coronavirus.

Since May 5, the coastal city has opened its shore from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. while allowing “active recreation activities” including bicycling, walking and running. The pier, beach playgrounds and picnic areas remain closed, and people must practice social distance and cannot loiter — for example, by sunbathing.

On Thursday, Orange County officials announced all beaches would open, but with certain restrictions, according to the Orange County Register.

But the mass of people who gathered Saturday remained unsatisfied with officials’ measures against the coronavirus.

“Gavin Newsom is a tyrant! Open all businesses,” one man shouted near an ABC7 camera before evoking Patrick Henry: “Give me liberty or give me death!”

The protest echoed other rallies against stay-at-home orders that have occurred across the nation, with a Trump 2020 flag dotting a sea of American flags and chants of “U-S-A.” One image captures women with signs decrying “slavery.”

This week, many California cities moved into a second stage of reopening that allows lower-risk retail businesses to accept curbside pickup.

South Africa’s alcohol ban during lockdown reveals its deadly drinking habits

Beer taps of South African Brewery brands are seen through the window of a bar as a passing man's reflection is caught in the window in Cape Town, South Africa, May 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Nardus Engelbrecht)

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has taken some of the most drastic measures in the world to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, but one has generated fierce debate like no other: a ban on the sale, and even transport, of alcohol.

Only two other countries — Sri Lanka and Panama — continue to deprive their citizens of that most universal pleasure-giver and painkiller, though much larger India and Thailand recently lifted similar bans.

On one side: drinkers who say their rights are being impinged on, and bottle shop owners and liquor companies that are going broke. On the other: a public health system that is unburdened by thousands of monthly hospitalizations resulting from accidents and violence attributed to drunkenness.

Federal bailout money is helping keep many airport workers on the job — but not all of them

A passenger walks through a nearly empty Reagan National Airport on April 30. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The $2 trillion economic rescue package passed by Congress in April included more than $60 billion to keep airlines and airports afloat and provided a lifeline for many front-line workers.

The coronavirus legislation, known as the Cares Act, focused on shielding pilots, flight attendants, airline catering workers and wheelchair attendants from involuntary furloughs through September. Airports, eligible for $10 billion in funding, were required to keep employees on the job through the end of the year.

But the bill did not include job protections for the mostly immigrant, hourly-wage workers who staff the hundreds of shops, restaurants and coffee stands at the nation’s airports. These workers often make less than their aviation counterparts.

FDA issues emergency approval of new antigen test that is cheaper, faster and simpler

Health-care providers will soon be able to deploy at scale a simpler, faster and cheaper diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus, a major development in the nation’s ability to detect and treat covid-19 as states move to reopen.

The new type of coronavirus screening, an antigen test manufactured by Quidel Corp., was granted emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday night. Antigen tests are a common screening tool that doctors use for other infections, such as influenza or strep throat, but this is the first antigen test specific to coronavirus.

U.S. will purchase $3 billion in products from farmers, Trump says

A farmer rides a tractor while pulling a feed trailer at a cattle farm in West Canaan, Ohio, on April 30. (Dane Rhys/Bloomberg)

President Trump on Saturday announced the federal government will buy $3 billion worth of dairy, meat and produce from American farmers, as part of a larger relief package intended to help an industry threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump tweeted that starting “early next week” the United States will buy from farmers, ranchers and specialty crop growers and distribute the goods to food kitchens. “FARMERS TO FAMILY FOOD BOX,” Trump wrote.

The $3 billion purchase aligns with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wider program intended to assist the agriculture industry.

Last month, Trump committed $19 billion to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program “to provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need,” according to a statement on the USDA’s website. The remaining $16 billion will go to direct payments to farmers and ranchers.

“American agriculture has been hard hit like most of America with the coronavirus,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said during the April 17 announcement of the program.

Struggling farmers have had to make tough decisions as restaurants and factories shutter and supply overwhelms demand. Some have dumped surplus milk or allowed product to rot in the field.

An April report from the Food & Agriculture Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri warns the pandemic will have “broad implications across the agriculture sector” and projects a decline in net farm income of approximately $20 billion.

Obama appears to call Trump’s coronavirus response an ‘absolute chaotic disaster'

Former president Barack Obama. (AFP/Getty Images)

Former president Barack Obama appeared to slam the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic during a Friday night call with his former aides, according to a recording obtained by Yahoo News and confirmed by an Obama spokesperson.

Obama had previously said the country lacked “a coherent national plan to navigate this pandemic,” but his remarks during the call were a more blistering assessment of Trump’s performance during the crisis.

The Yahoo News report said Obama “lashed out at the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as ‘an absolute chaotic disaster.’” Katie Hill, Obama’s spokeswoman, confirmed the call occurred and “nothing in the [Yahoo] story is inaccurate.”

Obama was speaking to about 3,000 members of the Obama Alumni Association to touch base and rally his former staff to help elect presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and other Democrats on the ballot this fall, Hill said.

On the call, Obama said that in the upcoming election “what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party.”

“What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life,” he said on the call, according to the Yahoo report.

Obama went on to say that “the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty" and seemed to allude to a White House whose rhetoric has drawn rebukes across the political spectrum.

“It would have been bad even with the best of governments,” he said. “It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government.”

Obama is expected to campaign heavily for his former vice president, which he confirmed on the call.

“That’s why, I, by the way, am going to be spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can for Joe Biden,” he said.

How economic pain is distributed in America

As the unemployment rate soared in April to its highest levels since the Great Depression, with 14.7 percent of workers without jobs, the coronavirus shutdown fell unequally on Americans according to age, gender, educational attainment and race.

The numbers, released Friday by the Labor Department, are the first to capture an entire month of stalled business activity, offering the clearest illustration to date of how economic pain is distributed among Americans.

And yet, while the numbers demonstrate a “collective crisis,” they still “don’t fully capture employment despair,” said Darrick Hamilton, an economist and executive director for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University.

Large birthday party sparks coronavirus outbreak, spurs Mother’s Day warning by officials

Health officials in Pasadena, Calif., are warning against Mother’s Day gatherings after a cluster of covid-19 cases were identified among attendees of a recent birthday party.

The party, which was held after the city decided to issue a safer-at-home order on March 19, was attended by a large number of extended family members and friends, according to a statement by the city of Pasadena on Saturday. Through contact tracing, the local health investigators discovered more than five confirmed covid-19 cases and “many more ill individuals” linked to that party.

“This is an example of how good contact tracing can identify disease clusters and tell us more about the spread of disease in our community,” Matthew Feaster, an epidemiologist with the Public Health Department, said in a statement.

The first patient in the outbreak was coughing and not wearing a facial covering during the party, according to health officials. Other guests were also not wearing face coverings or staying six feet apart during the gathering. As a result, the coronavirus spread throughout the party and to several guests in attendance.

“Pasadena residents who stay home keep themselves and their loved ones protected from covid-19,” said Ying-Ying Goh, director and health officer of PPHD.

Goh also emphasized that gatherings of people who do not live in the same household are still prohibited. That includes Mother’s Day gatherings.