Less than a month before Election Day, the rate of hospitalizations from covid-19 are on the rise in key battleground states throughout the Midwest, while states where President Trump has been leading are seeing a surge in new infections. The increases come as the distinctly different leadership styles and approaches of Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, to addressing the pandemic emerge as key themes of the presidential race.
Here are some significant developments:
At least 7,500,000 coronavirus cases and 211,000 fatalities have been reported in the United States since February, according to data tracked by The Washington Post.
President Trump returned to the Oval Office for the first time since being released from the hospital on Monday, as the White House again refused to say when the president last tested negative for the coronavirus.
Less than a month before Election Day the rate of hospitalizations from covid-19 are on the rise in key battleground states throughout the Midwest, while states where President Trump has been leading are seeing a surge in new infections.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to make a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to rescue the airline industry, just a day after President Trump abruptly cut off talks on a broader stimulus bill.
Country music star Morgan Wallen was dropped by “Saturday Night Live” as this week’s upcoming musical guest after videos emerged of him partying without a mask.
The NFL on Tuesday sent updated coronavirus protocols to teams and is planning to make a final decision Wednesday morning about the potential reopening of the Tennessee Titans’ team facility, with their outbreak perhaps abating.
The new protocols had been promised and outlined in a memo sent Monday to teams by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after head coaches and general managers participated in a conference call with the league. The NFL used Monday’s call to stress the need for adherence to the protocols, and Goodell’s memo warned that any violation of the protocols necessitating changes to the schedule could result in the offending team being punished by game forfeits or loss of draft picks. Goodell also wrote that the league would use a video surveillance system to monitor teams’ compliance at their facilities.
Tuesday’s memo to teams provided further details on modifications to the protocols that had been mentioned by Goodell.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced a resolution Wednesday that would increase coronavirus testing and mandate the universal use of face masks within the U.S. Capitol complex.
The path forward for the measure, S. Con. Res. 49, remains uncertain in the Republican-controlled chamber. Currently, face masks are mandatory for House members but voluntary for senators.
“The U.S. Senate has become a COVID-19 hotspot and we need to take immediate action, guided by the best science, to put in place additional protections to safeguard the health of the Senate complex workers, Senate staff, and Senators,” Schumer said in a statement. “Senate Republicans must join us here in reality and acknowledge that through their inaction, they are creating a truly dangerous situation.”
Klobuchar described the recommended steps as “common sense measures” that are “critical for continuity of government and our work on behalf of the American people.”
The resolution calls for universal mask-wearing, a “robust testing regime” and contact tracing for all those who work in the Capitol complex, and a “clear ban” on those who have tested positive from attending committee hearings or entering the Senate chamber until they have proved they are negative.
The measure also calls for quarantine restrictions on those who have had exposure to covid-19 patients; those who have tested positive themselves would be required to produce two negative tests on separate days to be allowed to return to the Capitol.
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U.S. accused of violating international labor laws, forced-labor protections in new complaint
Leaders representing a large number of U.S. trade unions filed a complaint with the United Nations’ labor agency Wednesday, arguing that the country under President Trump has violated international labor standards during the coronavirus pandemic.
The complaint was filed by the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO at the Geneva headquarters of the International Labour Organization, a more than 100-year-old institution run by the U.N. that works to upholds human rights on work-related issues like safety and collective bargaining.
The complaint details numerous ways U.S. labor law and enforcement are failing workers, and spotlights their further weakening under Trump.
And it charges the United States with violating workers’ rights in terms not typically associated with well-off countries, at one point saying the bind many essential workers have been placed in during the pandemic — forced to risk infection or lose their jobs and potentially unemployment benefits — amounts to a system of forced labor.
Orthodox Jewish demonstrators rallying against coronavirus restrictions imposed by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) descended on Hasidic Borough Park in Brooklyn on Wednesday, leading to scenes of chaotic outbreaks of violence and at least two injured observers.
One man remains hospitalized, the New York Police Department told The Washington Post. Protesters, many maskless, marched in opposition to Cuomo’s stricter guidelines imposed Tuesday to address a recent surge of infections in Queens and Brooklyn that included crowd limits for synagogues.
Early in the morning, Berish Getz, 34, was filming the masses when the crowd turned on him, witnesses told The City. Shouting “snitch,” several men began following him in one video.
Getz was attacked by three to four suspects who kicked and punched him, a New York Police Department spokesperson said in a written statement to The Post. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital and remains in stable condition. No one was arrested, police said, although an investigation is ongoing.
“This is my best brother,” Mordy Getz tweeted, sharing a video of Orthodox men helping adjust an injured man on a stretcher. “Critically injured by anti mask hasidic rioters. NOT RESPONSIVE! We want [a] full investigation and prosecution.”
In another video, a freelance photographer was chased by a crowd. The man, who identified himself to the New York Post as Bruce Schaff, said he was “terrified” when the group he was taking pictures of turned on him.
“Out of all the protests I’ve been to I’ve never seen this level of violence from protesters toward members of the press, photographers, or anyone for that matter,” Schaff said. His camera was broken, and he was bruised in the skirmish, which ended when police intervened.
“Once I was on the train and the adrenaline rush passed, I started crying,” Schaff added.
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U.S. Surgeon General cited for breaking Hawaiian covid-19 rules by snapping photos in a closed park
A police officer rolling by Kualoa Regional Park in late August noticed three men near the shore, snapping photos of the jagged jungle mountains and cerulean seas on Oahu’s northeastern coast. The problem was, the park was closed under the island’s sweeping pandemic restrictions.
When the officer approached, one of the men explained that, actually, he’d traveled to the island to work directly with Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) on covid-19 prevention. The officer was unmoved, citing the men for breaking the emergency orders.
It’s unclear, based on documents reviewed by The Washington Post, whether the officer knew that one of the men cited that day was actually the “Nation’s Doctor.”
The debate kicked off with Harris launching a pointed attack on the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus, saying “this administration has forfeited their right to reelection based on this.”
“The American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” she said.
“They knew and they covered it up,” she said. “The president said it was a hoax. They minimized the seriousness of it.”
Several times she looked over directly at Pence, who shook his head in disagreement.
Harris largely focused on the Trump administration’s response, only at the tail end of her answer promoting what a Biden administration would have done differently.
Pence focused on the travel ban the Trump administration instituted early on.
“Our nation has gone through a very challenging time this year,” Pence said. “But I want the American people to know that from the very first day, President Donald Trump has put the health of America first.”
He accused Biden’s plan of largely copying things that Trump has already implemented.
“It looks a little bit like plagiarism,” he said. “Which Joe Biden knows something about.”
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White House lurches in new direction on stimulus talks, pushing for airline aid
The White House’s ever-shifting economic relief agenda lurched in a new direction Wednesday as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to make a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to rescue the airline industry, just a day after President Trump abruptly cut off talks on a broader stimulus bill.
Mnuchin and Pelosi (D-Calif.) had two conversations Wednesday -- one in the morning and another in the evening -- about the possibility of a stand-alone bill for the airline industry, which just began mass layoffs after federal aid expired. Pelosi also sounded out Democratic lawmakers on the possibility at a closed-door meeting Wednesday evening, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe it.
Two of these people said that Democratic members still would prefer a comprehensive bill but are sensitive to the many jobs at risk in the airline industry.
Among world leaders, President Trump is increasingly isolated on the issue of face masks.
After months of casting doubt on their efficacy in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, his decision not to send a strong message on the matter even while infected seemed to forestall the possibility of an about face.
While many world leaders have backed the use of face masks and have chosen to wear them during public appearances — despite, in some cases, earlier reticence of their own — Trump has delivered mixed, sometimes contradictory guidance, and has often appeared without a mask, donning one in public for the first time in July.
Vulnerable Republicans are beginning to distance themselves from President Trump’s dismissive response to the coronavirus pandemic and his dramatic termination of negotiations with congressional Democrats over federal economic relief, with the latest cracks carrying enormous implications for Trump and the party with just four weeks until Election Day.
Facing a political reckoning as Trump’s support plummets and a possible blue tsunami looms, it is now conservatives and Trump allies who are showing flashes of discomfort with the president, straining to stay in the good graces of his core voters without being wholly defined by an erratic incumbent.
For some Republicans, the 11th-hour repositioning may not be enough to stave off defeat. But the criticism, however muted, underscores the extent of the crisis inside of a party that is growing alarmed about its political fate and confused by Trump’s tweets and decision-making.
A senior military official who was quarantining following interaction with another uniformed leader who contracted covid-19 has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.
Gen. Gary Thomas, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, received the positive test a day after he began quarantining, the service said in a statement.
“In accordance with established Marine Corps COVID policies, General Thomas will continue to quarantine at home. He is experiencing mild symptoms, but otherwise is feeling well,” the statement said.
Thomas is the second senior official this week whose covid-19 diagnosis was announced by the Pentagon, following that of Admiral Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, on Monday. Ray and Thomas were among the senior officials who attended a meeting at the Pentagon last Friday. Another was Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper was traveling.
Jonathan Hoffman, a spokesman for Esper, said in a statement that the department would follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for isolation and contact tracing.
“At this time we have no additional senior leader positive test results to report,” he said.
Trump campaign adviser appears maskless after promising to quarantine
One day after saying he would isolate himself because of his exposure to the coronavirus, Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski was photographed without a mask at a children’s flag-football match Saturday in Pelham, N.H.
The photo of the 2016 Trump campaign manager was shared with the Lowell Sun, a local newspaper, and confirmed by CNBC. The event attendee who took the photo, 77-year-old Jim Donohoe, told the Sun he didn’t see Lewandowski wearing a mask for about 20 minutes while he was observing him at the game, which had about 50 to 60 people in attendance.
Lewandowski told CBS News on Friday that he planned to avoid contact with others “out of an abundance of cautiousness” after campaigning with Trump in Minnesota the day before Trump announced he had tested positive. He also spent time with Trump the same day as Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination event in the Rose Garden.
Lewandowski spoke about the importance of wearing masks during his CBS interview but said “it’s up to individuals” to wear them.
“I’m a small government kind of guy, I don’t want the government mandating what I have to do,” he said.
Lewandowski will headline a Trump campaign event in Naples, Fla., with South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem and former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi on Thursday.
Lewandowski and the Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment from The Post, the Sun or CNBC.
SNL drops country star Morgan Wallen as musical guest after he’s seen partying maskless
Country music star Morgan Wallen was dropped by “Saturday Night Live” as this week’s upcoming musical guest, the singer announced on his Instagram on Wednesday evening. Wallen drew backlash after TikTok videos were posted in which he was seen partying without a mask at the University of Alabama days before.
“I’m in New York City in a hotel room, I was getting ready for SNL this Saturday, and I got a call from the show letting me know I will no longer be able to play,” Wallen said in a short video. “And that’s because of covid protocols, which I understand.”
“I am not positive for covid,” he continued. “My actions from this past weekend were pretty shortsighted, and have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams. I respect the show’s decision because I know that I put them in jeopardy. I take ownership for this. I’d like to apologize to SNL, to my fans, to my team, for bringing me these opportunities. And I let them down.”
Less than a month before Election Day, the rate of hospitalizations from covid-19 are on the rise in key battleground states throughout the Midwest, while states where President Trump has been leading are seeing a surge in new infections.
The increases come as the distinctly different leadership styles and approaches of Trump and his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, to addressing the pandemic emerge as key themes of the presidential race.
On Wednesday, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced health officials would open a field hospital at the Wisconsin State Fair Park just outside of Milwaukee to handle the number of new covid-19 cases that are starting to “overwhelm” hospitals in the key swing state. The number of hospitalizations due to covid-19 have nearly tripled in the past month, surging to 853 from 289 in early September.
Michigan and Pennsylvania are two more battleground states where the rates of new hospitalizations have grown by 10 percent or more in the past seven days, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. Iowa, another state where the presidential race is a toss-up, on Wednesday set a new high for hospitalizations — one of eight states to hit or tie record levels.
In places like North Dakota, South Dakota and Indiana where state leaders have embraced Trump’s more cavalier attitude toward the virus and adopted fewer restrictions, not only have hospitalization rates grown, new infections — and in some states, deaths — are on the rise as well.
Montana and South Dakota on Wednesday recorded new highs for single-day cases while North Dakota tallied its highest single day for deaths from covid-19. In Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, the average daily rate of new hospitalizations has surged past previous peak highs from the spring or summer.
An 80-year-old man died after an argument over masks at a New York bar turned violent
When 80-year-old Rocco E. Sapienza rounded the corner of the bar on Sept. 26 to confront another customer who had been walking around the West Seneca, N.Y., establishment without wearing a mask, the maskless man shoved him.
“He pushed him pretty hard,” Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said at a news conference Monday. “The victim went flying back.”
Sapienza hit his head on the hard floor and immediately began having a seizure, Flynn said. He remained unresponsive in a nearby hospital for four days before dying on Sept. 30.
After being arrested, cited and released earlier in the week, 65-year-old Donald M. Lewinski pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to a negligent homicide charge in Sapienza’s death.
The deadly incident is just the latest in a long list of violent confrontations over mask rules in public spaces as the United States has grappled with the novel coronavirus pandemic. Even in hard-hit states like New York, which has reported at least 466,908 cases and 32,939 deaths since the start of the pandemic, some have protested policies requiring masks and other precautions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.