More than 79,000 people have now died from the coronavirus in the United States, and at least 1,324,000 cases have been reported.
There are mounting concerns about the continuity of government.
Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the head of the U.S. National Guard, tested positive for the virus on Saturday but then tested negative the same day in a second test. He will take a third test today, Reuters reports.
Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, tested negative on Friday but will self-quarantine because he’s been in contact with a family member who tested positive, CNN reports.
Several members of the Secret Service have tested positive. So has a military valet at the White House. Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has tested negative but is expected to work from home this week after his wife, Katie Miller, Vice President Pence’s press secretary, tested positive on Friday. Her deputy Devin O’Malley shot down reports from other outlets on Sunday that Pence planned to work from home this week, sending a statement that said the vice president will man his post at the White House.
But other senior officials are self-isolating to varying degrees after their exposure to people who tested positive. Katie Miller has routinely attended daily coronavirus task force meetings in the White House Situation Room.
The Senate health committee has a hearing scheduled for tomorrow on the topic of “Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.” On Sunday morning, the committee’s chairman, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), announced that the four Trump administration officials who were scheduled to testify in person will now appear via videoconference. The witnesses are Tony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services assistant secretary for health who is in charge of coronavirus testing.
A few hours later, Alexander’s office announced that he will videoconference in, as well, because one of his staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. Alexander’s chief of staff said in a statement that the 79-year-old senator tested negative on Thursday and does not have symptoms, but he will self-quarantine at home in Tennessee for 14 days.
None of this inspires great confidence that the country is ready to safely get back to work.
No other workplace has as much easy access to instant testing as the White House, which is why asymptomatic people like Katie Miller are finding out that they’re infected who might otherwise have unwittingly spread the virus to their colleagues for days before realizing they had it. “I don't think you need that kind of testing or that much testing, but some people disagree with me and some people agree with me,” Trump said last week, even as he reportedly insists that no one be allowed near him unless they have been tested.
In a new op-ed for The Washington Post, Joe Biden accuses Trump of offering Americans “a false choice” between protecting people’s health and reviving the economy. “It’s been more than two months since Trump claimed that ‘anybody that wants a test can get a test,’” Biden writes. “It was a baldfaced lie when he said it, and it still isn’t remotely true. If we’re going to have thriving workplaces, restaurants, stores and parks, we need widespread testing. Trump can’t seem to provide it — to say nothing of worker safety protocols, consistent health guidelines or clear federal leadership to coordinate a responsible reopening.”
Biden argues that the solution is not a mystery: “The Trump administration could focus on producing and distributing adequate testing and protocols that conform with the guidance of public health experts; doing so would speed up the reopening process considerably and make it a whole lot more effective. The administration is fully aware that this is the right path, too — after all, the president and his staff are now reportedly receiving daily tests. … They just haven’t put in that same work for the rest of us. If Trump and his team understand how critical testing is to their safety — and they seem to, given their own behavior — why are they insisting that it’s unnecessary for the American people?”
Quote of the day
“It is scary to go to work," White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on CBS. “I think that I'd be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing."
The bad news over the weekend reflects how far the country is from returning to anything approximating what was normal three months ago. So, too, do dire comments on the Sunday shows by two of Trump’s top economic advisers. Hassett said on “Face the Nation” that he thinks the unemployment rate will rise to “north of 20 percent” in the next month, up from the 14.7 percent reported last week by the Labor Department. Friday’s jobs report showed the U.S. economy shed 20.5 million jobs in April.
“The reported numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding: “I think you’re going to have a very, very bad second quarter.” When host Chris Wallace asked Mnuchin whether the country’s unemployment rate could be “close to 25 percent at this point,” which is what it was in the depths of the Great Depression, he replied, “Chris, we could be.”
These cascading developments put in stark relief the lurking danger by offering the public a reminder that no one is safe, no matter how many stars they have on their uniform, and that the worst economic news is still to come. At the same time, they showcase what experts agree is the need for widely available testing to be able to safely reopen large swaths of the economy.
“Fauci plans to wear a mask at all times in public but will not completely isolate himself because he needs to attend meetings at the White House and work at the National Institutes of Health. He will be tested anytime he goes to the White House,” Aaron Gregg, Felicia Sonmez, Lenny Bernstein and Carolyn Johnson report. “Even daily testing is not a guarantee that infection has not occurred because no medical test — of any kind — is 100 percent accurate. False negative results can occur, depending on the amount of virus in a patient’s blood and the method used, among other factors.”
Confusingly, Trump cited Katie Miller’s positive test as an indictment of testing. He has argued that the rest of the country does not need vigorous testing, a message at odds with experts. He apparently does not understand that someone might not have the virus one day but then have it the next, and that identifying this as quickly as possible can reduce the number of people an infected person passes it along to. “This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great,” the president told reporters on Friday. “The tests are perfect, but something can happen between the test where it’s good and then something happens and all of a sudden — she was tested very recently and tested negative and today I guess for some reason she tested positive.”
More on the federal response
There's growing resistance among Trump's advisers to passing another pricey stimulus package.
“Senior Trump administration officials are growing increasingly wary of the massive federal spending to combat the economic downturn and are considering ways to limit the impact of future stimulus efforts on the national debt, according to six administration officials and four external advisers familiar with the matter,” per Jeff Stein, Josh Dawsey and John Hudson. “Some White House officials have gone as far as exploring policies such as automatic spending cuts as the economy improves, or prepaying Social Security benefits to workers before they become eligible, although these measures are unlikely to advance given the political stakes … The concerns about the deficit are coming from traditional conservatives at the White House, including new chief of staff Mark Meadows and acting budget director Russ Vought. But officials say they are likely to face much more skepticism from President Trump himself. Trump has shown little interest since becoming president in shrinking the deficit.”
Republicans are growing nervous about losing the Senate over Trump’s mishandling of the crisis.
“‘It is a bleak picture right now all across the map, to be honest with you,’ said one Republican strategist closely involved in Senate races who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss concerns within the party. ‘This whole conversation is a referendum on Trump, and that is a bad place for Republicans to be. But it’s also not a forever place,’” Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis report. “Republicans have privately become alarmed at the situation in key races where they are counting on GOP incumbents such as Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Thom Tillis (N.C.) to hold the line. Multiple strategists said they believe GOP candidates will recover once the nation — and the presidential campaign — returns to a more normal footing … Democratic Senate candidates in the most closely watched races also could be benefiting from a lack of scrutiny and negative ads with the nation’s attention consumed by the pandemic. But a return to normalcy ahead of the elections is far from a given … The emerging consensus of several Republican strategists is that GOP incumbents should be able to hang on in states Trump won in 2016 if the president can hang on to those states himself. That list includes North Carolina, Arizona and Iowa, which Democrats are heavily targeting this cycle. The flip side for Republicans is that states Trump lost in 2016 — such as Colorado and Maine — could be out of reach. Many GOP strategists have already written off Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), barring a major shift.”
The Trump administration cut off a prominent coronavirus researcher.
“The administration has said, at times, the virus is man-made or that, if it's natural, it must have leaked out of a Chinese government lab. ... And so, in China, and the U.S., the work of scientists like Peter Daszak is being undercut by pandemic politics,” CBS's “60 Minutes” reports. “Peter Daszak is a British-born American Ph.D. who's spent a career discovering dangerous viruses in wildlife, especially bats. … [Daszak is] president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance. … In China, EcoHealth has worked for 15 years with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Together they've catalogued hundreds of bat viruses, research that is critical right now. … But his funding from the NIH, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was killed, two weeks ago, by a political disinformation campaign targeting China's Wuhan Institute. … ‘They said it was canceled for convenience and it doesn't fit within the scope of NIH's priorities right now,’ [he said]. ‘It's definitely puzzling. I mean, this grant received an incredibly high-priority score. It was in the top 3% of grants they reviewed. And that's unusual.’”
- Aaron Davis: “In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America.”
- Amy Brittain, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Nick Miroff: “White House’s pandemic relief effort Project Airbridge is swathed in secrecy and exaggerations.”
The U.S. will accuse China of trying to hack vaccine data.
“The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to issue a warning that China’s most skilled hackers and spies are working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. The efforts are part of a surge in cybertheft and attacks by nations seeking advantage in the pandemic,” the New York Times reports. “The warning comes as Israeli officials accuse Iran of mounting an effort in late April to cripple water supplies as Israelis were confined to their houses, though the government has offered no evidence to back its claim. More than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses. … A draft of the forthcoming public warning, which officials say is likely to be issued in the days to come, says China is seeking ‘valuable intellectual property and public health data through illicit means related to vaccines, treatments and testing.’ It focuses on cybertheft and action by ‘nontraditional actors,’ a euphemism for researchers and students the Trump administration says are being activated to steal data from inside academic and private laboratories.”
Updates from the front lines
Doctors keep discovering new ways the virus attacks the body.
“Often it attacks the lungs, but it can also strike anywhere from the brain to the toes. Many doctors are focused on treating the inflammatory reactions it triggers and its capacity to cause blood clots, even as they struggle to help patients breathe,” Lenny Bernstein and Ariana Eunjung Cha report. “More than four months of clinical experience across Asia, Europe and North America has shown the pathogen does much more than invade the lungs. ‘No one was expecting a disease that would not fit the pattern of pneumonia and respiratory illness,’ said David Reich, a cardiac anesthesiologist and president of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. It attacks the heart, weakening its muscles and disrupting its critical rhythm. It savages kidneys so badly some hospitals have run short of dialysis equipment. It crawls along the nervous system, destroying taste and smell and occasionally reaching the brain. It creates blood clots that can kill with sudden efficiency and inflames blood vessels throughout the body. …
“Many scientists have come to believe that much of the disease’s devastation comes from two intertwined causes. The first is the harm the virus wreaks on blood vessels, leading to clots that can range from microscopic to sizable. Patients have suffered strokes and pulmonary emboli as clots break loose and travel to the brain and lungs. … The second is an exaggerated response from the body’s own immune system, a storm of killer ‘cytokines’ that attack the body’s own cells along with the virus as it seeks to defend the body from an invader. … Inflammation of those endothelial cells lining blood vessels may help explain why the virus harms so many parts of the body, said Mandeep Mehra, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School … That means defeating covid-19 will require more than antiviral therapy, he said. ‘What this virus does is it starts as a viral infection and becomes a more global disturbance to the immune system and blood vessels — and what kills is exactly that,’ Mehra said. ‘Our hypothesis is that covid-19 begins as a respiratory virus and kills as a cardiovascular virus.’”
Paramedics across the nation are holding off on CPR.
“Around the country, in cities and counties in the grip of the pandemic, emergency medical technicians have had to do something they’re not used to: think of their own well-being before that of their patients. With so many paramedics falling ill, emergency units have changed their practices to limit exposure to the virus. The most unsettling change, according to interviews with paramedics in a half-dozen of the most affected states, is the decision to suspend, or limit, resuscitation in cases when the odds of survival are near zero. ‘This is medicine that we have never done before. It’s scary. There are ethical dilemmas that come with it,’ said Terry Hoben, the coordinator of emergency medical services at University Hospital in Newark, whose ambulances responded to the calls,” the New York Times reports. "The decision has caused so much concern that Mr. Hoben’s department is discussing whether to allow paramedics to resume CPR this coming week while limiting the amount of time it is performed. But last month, after the virus sickened dozens of employees, Mr. Hoben said he had to take more drastic measures. ‘To resuscitate and save one life, and risk five?’ he asked.”
A nurse raced to treat a “code blue” patient without an N95 mask. Now she's dead.
Celia Marcos was working in the ward she oversaw at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center when a man with covid-19 stopped breathing. "Marcos’ face was covered only with a thin surgical mask, and obtaining a more protective N95 mask before entering his room would have wasted valuable time,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “The 61-year-old charge nurse knew the chest compressions and other breathing treatments the patient needed would likely spew dangerous virus particles into the air that could land on her face and clothing. She would be at high risk of catching the coronavirus. Marcos raced into the room. Fourteen days later, she was dead. … In one version of her story, she is a selfless caregiver who chose her patient’s life over her own by rushing into his room without an N95. But staff at Hollywood Presbyterian say the reality is much bleaker. As charge nurse, Marcos was required to respond to patients who stopped breathing, but she wasn’t provided an N95 mask at the beginning of her shift, her coworkers say. The masks are scarce, and staff who do get them are often asked to reuse them over multiple days, they said.”
- A study involving thousands of staffers and players from 26 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams revealed that 0.7 percent have covid-19 antibodies, indicating that they've already been infected. That number is greater than the rate of reported cases, approximately 0.4 percent, among the overall U.S. population. However, most of the country has not been tested, either for antibodies or in point-of-care diagnostic tests, making the MLB study an important snapshot, researchers told Des Bieler.
More people are defying stay-at-home orders and ignoring the guidance of health experts.
Nearly three-quarters of Americans (74 percent) say they have avoided small gatherings in the past week, but this figure has gradually fallen by 10 points since late March, Gallup found. Their new poll also found that Republicans have become much less likely to avoid small gatherings – 86 percent of Democrats say they’ve avoided such events, a drop of 4 points since late March, while 60 percent of Republicans say they’ve avoided small gatherings, a drop from 76 percent in late March.
- A Massachusetts ice cream shop reopened last week, but immediately faced harassment after people disregarded a rule to order an hour before pickup, demanding their ice cream right away. Customers took out their anger at delays on overwhelmed employees, including a teenage girl who quit. (Hannah Knowles and Meryl Kornfield)
- Five people were shot at a park that was crowded with 600 people in Fort Worth, Tex. (NYT)
- A Denver restaurant drew massive crowds after fully reopening in defiance of Colorado’s public health order that limits restaurants statewide to takeout and delivery services. A Twitter account for the restaurant declared it was reopening to stand “for America, small businesses, the Constitution and against the overreach of our governor in Colorado!!” (Denver Post)
- A Chicago-area church sued Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) over his stay-at-home orders and three days later defied said orders by welcoming dozens of worshippers to a Sunday service. Cristian Ionescu, Elim Romanian Pentecostal’s senior pastor, said the move to hold services is “not a rebellion for the sake of rebellion,” arguing that the Constitution grants them the right to worship during the pandemic. (Chicago Sun-Times)
- South Dakota is threatening to sue Native American tribes that have put up checkpoints to prevent the virus from spreading across their reservations. (Antonia Farzan)
- Images from a crowded cross-country United flight sparked outcry. More than 25 medical professionals found themselves on a jam-packed flight from Newark to San Francisco, despite assurance from United that social distancing measures would be in place. A doctor on the flight said the rows of people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder did not align with an email he received from United before Saturday’s flight saying that middle seats would be left open. (Allyson Chiu)
- A Travis McCready concert in Arkansas will feature socially distanced “pods” for 229 die-hard fans who show up. Attendees will have to wear face masks and will have their temperature checked before entering the concert hall, which has been sanitized with a fog sprayer. The “pods” will be made up of no more than a dozen friends or relatives, and each group will be required to keep six feet away from others. (Antonia Farzan)
- Crew members on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, currently docked in Miami, have gone more than 72 hours without food as part of a strike they hope will pressure the cruise company into speeding up efforts to send them home. Crew members told the Miami Herald that they’re desperate to see proof that they’re being sent home after being trapped at sea since March 13, amid reports of crew member deaths under unclear circumstances.
The D.C. region has reported over 60,000 coronavirus cases. At least 2,806 people have died here.
- Northern Virginia is nowhere near ready to reopen on Friday under Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan. In a letter, leaders representing nearly 2.4 million residents said they are unwilling to lift restrictions in place since late March, which the Democratic governor plans to do in a limited capacity Friday in hopes of reviving the state’s ailing economy. A Northam spokeswoman said the governor requested the letter to avoid a situation where neighboring localities had different policies that could reduce their effectiveness. (Antonio Olivo, Rebecca Tan and Jenna Portnoy)
- Metro’s recovery plan doesn’t anticipate a return to pre-pandemic levels of service until next spring. Instead, the agency plans to slowly ramp up service and will ask the region’s employers to limit daily commuters by staggering work schedules and encouraging telework. (Justin George)
Does Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) deserve credit for his handling of the crisis in Florida?
“After a month of staying home, with Florida much better off than many of the models predicted, the governor is feeling bold. He has been getting credit for how he has handled the crisis from people such as Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, who has praised the state’s covid tracking website on national television, and pointed to Florida’s early targeted testing of vulnerable communities in an Oval Office news conference. He has been traveling around Florida on what, at times, looks like a victory tour, missing only a giant banner that says: ‘They said we would be the next Italy, but they were wrong,’” Ben Terris and Josh Dawsey report. “Still, it’s unclear exactly how well the state has fared. Questions have been raised about whether the DeSantis administration is trying to suppress information. The state government refused to identify nursing homes with covid-19 infections until threatened with a lawsuit. The state also blocked medical examiners from making public their own fatality counts and released a list of those deaths last week only after redacting key information. What’s more, experts believe the number of cases and deaths is an undercount nationwide because of limited testing, especially in the early weeks of the pandemic. Unlike some states that include ‘probable’ covid-19 deaths in their daily tallies, Florida counts only people who had lab-confirmed tests. And with untold thousands infected, DeSantis — like the other governors beginning to open up their states — is taking a risk not just with his own political future but with the lives of his constituents.”
Factory furloughs are becoming permanent closings.
“Makers of dishware in North Carolina, furniture foam in Oregon and cutting boards in Michigan are among the companies closing factories in recent weeks,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Caterpillar Inc. said it is considering closing plants in Germany, boat-and-motorcycle-maker Polaris Inc. plans to close a plant in Syracuse, Ind., and tire maker Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plans to close a plant in Gadsden, Ala. Those factory shutdowns will further erode an industrial workforce that has been shrinking as a share of the overall U.S. economy for decades. While manufacturing output last year surpassed a previous peak from 2007, factory employment never returned to levels reached before the financial crisis.”
Racial inequality and injustice in America
As social distancing enforcement ramps up, so does concern that black and Latino populations will face harsher treatment.
“In Illinois, two black men wearing surgical masks filmed themselves at Walmart being trailed by a police officer who rested his hand on his gun. The men said in the recording the officer told them they couldn’t wear masks and had to leave the store. A black man in Cincinnati who posted to YouTube a video of people partying on the street in violation of a stay-at-home order was hit with a felony charge for inciting violence and another count. He was held on $350,000 bond. Advocates say those incidents and others are emblematic of an old problem in a new era: Uneven and overly aggressive policing of minorities, particularly African Americans, as authorities enforce coronavirus-related restrictions across the country,” Justin Jouvenal and Michael Brice-Saddler report. “Comprehensive data does not yet exist on how police are enforcing stay-at-home and social distancing orders. But a small group of early tallies showing a stark divide along racial lines has prompted concern from advocates and lawmakers who say police may be taking a harsher tack toward people of color."
Tyson Foods executives successfully lobbied Trump for legal protections, even as they failed to give their workers masks.
“After an executive order by Trump declared the meat supply ‘critical infrastructure’ and shielded the companies from certain liability, Tyson reopened its Waterloo, Iowa, facility on Thursday,” the Times reports. “As high-level executives lobbied the White House to help protect Tyson from lawsuits, the company was failing to provide adequate safety equipment to Waterloo workers and refusing the requests of local officials to close the plant, according to more than two dozen interviews with plant employees, immigrant-rights advocates, doctors, lawyers and government officials. ... Rumors and misinformation spread among workers, many of whom are not native English speakers. As the work force dwindled, fear gripped the plant. … At least one employee vomited while working on the production line, and several left the facility with soaring temperatures … One worker who died had taken Tylenol before entering the plant to lower her temperature enough to pass the screening, afraid that missing work would mean forgoing a bonus."
The CDC advised health-care professionals to be careful not to let bias influence their treatment during the pandemic.
“Preliminary research by a Boston-based biotech firm suggests that treatment may not be consistent across the board. The study found that black people who visited hospitals with Covid-19 symptoms in February and March were less likely to get tested or treated than white patients,” the Times reports. “African-American patients enter the health care system with distinct disadvantages, experts say. There is less access to quality health care in many black communities, research shows, and black people are more likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension and other underlying conditions that make Covid-19 particularly fatal. So, should providers misinterpret or ignore coronavirus symptoms in black patients, there is a higher likelihood that the results could be grave, experts say. … The C.D.C. said in a statement [that] it did not have data to quantify the role of implicit bias in Covid-19 deaths. But the agency added, ‘Becoming aware of and reflecting on one’s own biases to help ensure they do not impact decisions is a potentially lifesaving step for clinicians to undertake.’”
Georgia’s attorney general asked the Justice Department to investigate the handling of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing.
“Arbery’s fatal shooting in February spurred public outrage last week after video emerged showing the 25-year-old trying to run by a pickup truck with two armed white men, before struggling with them and falling to the ground dead when shots were fired. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested retired police detective Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, on Thursday on charges of murder and aggravated assault, after the elder McMichael told officers that he pursued Arbery in the belief he was behind neighborhood burglaries,” Hannah Knowles reports. “The shooting and the delay in charges — which came only after the footage went viral — have drawn strong condemnations from activists and leaders across the political spectrum … 'We are committed to a complete and transparent review of how the Ahmaud Arbery case was handled from the outset,’ Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement Sunday as he announced his request for a federal investigation. …
"The Arbery case has been assigned to a series of prosecutors. First, it went to Jackie Johnson in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, who recused herself from the case in February because Gregory McMichael was previously an investigator in her office. Then it went to George E. Barnhill, district attorney for Georgia’s Waycross Judicial Circuit, who recused himself after Arbery’s mother complained that Barnhill’s son used to work with McMichael in the Brunswick district attorney’s office … In the letter recusing himself, Barnhill laid out an argument that the men’s actions were legal under the state’s citizen’s arrest and self-defense statutes.”
Arbery’s killing exacerbates a feeling of helplessness and injustice at a time of racial agony.
The video surfaced “amid a pandemic that is disproportionately sickening and killing African Americans. The result is a view among some black leaders that race relations in the United States are at a low point, with Trump’s often divisive rhetoric and the pandemic’s economic crisis — also battering nonwhites at higher rates — now punctuated by the stark video of a violent death,” Annie Linskey reports on the front page of today's paper. “African American leaders are not hiding their anguish. ‘This killing is just the most egregious example right now of how sick people are and how racist they are in this country at the moment,’ said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.). ‘It’s not just what’s happening in the South in this isolated incident.’ Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, placed the shooting in the context of the broader national landscape. ‘When you have hate emanating from the Oval Office, why are we surprised?’ Bass said. She also urged Americans to put the events in a larger context. ‘If you could do anything to help this country, could you please draw the connections?’ she said. … Additional video emerged Saturday that is believed to show the moments before Arbery’s death. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published surveillance footage showing a figure entering a house under construction shortly before the shooting, lingering for a few minutes, then jogging toward the location where the men confronted Arbery. …
“Biden has used the phrase ‘pandemic of hate’ several times to describe the shooting, implicitly tying it to the covid-19 outbreak. Trump has also expressed dismay at the shooting … But he also raised the possibility that the episode could be more complicated than it appears, an argument that angered black activists who saw it as a nod to Trump’s largely white coalition. ‘You know, it could be something that we didn’t see on tape,’ Trump said. … White House aides did not respond to questions about the comment … The pandemic’s devastating impact has shifted the discussion of race in recent weeks from a series of troubling incidents, and the bitterness of the broader political atmosphere, to an ongoing death toll that is disproportionately taking black and Latino lives. … All of this, many black leaders fear, has resulted in a particularly toxic racial atmosphere, one that the Arbery killing has only aggravated. ‘I’m telling you that it’s exacerbated right now,’ Watson Coleman said. ‘I don’t care if you’re black walking down the street with a Bible in your hand — if a white person sees you, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be confronted.’”
A sheriff's deputy who was fired on Friday now faces charges for allegedly “terrorizing” a black family.
“The former deputy, Jordan Kita, who was fired by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, was charged with trespassing, breaking and entering and willful failure to discharge duties. Another man, Austin Wood, was charged with ‘going armed to the terror of the public’ in connection with the May 3 episode in Avendale in Pender County,” the Times reports. “Mr. Kita, a detentions deputy, was among a group of armed white men who knocked on the door of the home of Monica Shepard and her son Dameon that night, James W. Lea III, a lawyer representing the Shepards, said in a letter to the district attorney, Benjamin R. David. It was around 10 p.m. when Mr. Shepard, 18, answered the door, Mr. Lea said. Mr. Shepard was playing video games in the front room; his mother had already gone to bed for the night.
“The group demanded to know the location of a 16-year-old girl named Lekayda Kempisty, Mr. Lea said. Mr. Kita, who was armed and in uniform, ‘but apparently off-duty and outside the scope of his responsibilities,’ stood on the porch … Also on the porch were two other men — one with an assault weapon and another with a shotgun — as well as about a dozen other men and women behind them who were not armed, Mr. Lea said. … The group said that Lekayda was missing and that they were looking for someone named Josiah … The person named Josiah whom the group was seeking had apparently lived next door for some time but moved out about a month ago, Mr. Lea wrote. The group members realized at some point that they were at the wrong house and started to leave. The Pender County Sheriff’s Office was called and Mr. Lea said two deputies and a captain briefly interviewed the Shepards but did not make any arrests that night.”
Oklahoma City University’s virtual graduation was disrupted by a racist hacker in the latest instance of a “Zoombombing.”
“As the names were about to roll across the screen, the ceremony was upended by hate. After the screen went black, the n-word and a swastika suddenly appeared in front of the graduates and their loved ones watching from home,” Timothy Bella reports. “In a statement tweeted by the school, Oklahoma City University President Martha Burger denounced the ‘horrendous act of racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism’ that cut short the graduation. Burger, who said the school took safety precautions, added that OCU has reached out to federal and state authorities and would ‘pursue every avenue available to ensure that those responsible are held accountable under the law.’ … As the pandemic has forced students and teachers to turn to videoconferencing tools such as Zoom to finish out the school year, the platform has increasingly become a target for hackers looking to hijack online classrooms to post hateful and disgusting content … While the New York City school district reversed its ban on the use of Zoom for remote learning, incidents on the platform are continuing to happen nationwide, from New Jersey and Ohio to Utah and California.”
The foreign fallout
South Korea’s early coronavirus wins have dimmed as a new crop of cases arises.
“More than 50 cases have been linked to a 29-year-old man who, in a single night last weekend, visited five clubs and bars in a popular Seoul neighborhood, health officials said. He tested positive on Wednesday—the same day the South Korean government rolled out relaxed social-distancing measures,” the WSJ reports. “The fresh virus cases, following days of no reported local infections, show how difficult it might be to return to normalcy. The country of roughly 51 million people hadn’t resorted to a lockdown like the U.S. and Europe. Instead, South Korea relied on aggressive testing, tech-heavy contact tracing and a willingness by many to stay indoors. The use of face masks remains widespread. … President Moon Jae-in, in a national address, pointed to the new cluster of cases and warned a second wave of infections could arise anytime and anywhere. ‘It will be a long time before the Covid-19 outbreak has ended completely,’ Mr. Moon said Sunday. ‘It’s not over until it’s over.’”
- A single worker at a fish-processing factory in Ghana infected 533 other employees, according to the country's president. (Antonia Farzan)
- Shanghai Disneyland reopened at partial capacity. Videos taken Monday showed scattered groups of people entering the park’s grounds as employees waved at them from a distance. The park has implemented rules to ensure social distancing, including painting large yellow squares on the ground to tell people where to stand. (Allyson Chiu)
- New Zealand is reopening restaurants, gyms and movie theaters on Thursday. Bars will be able to reopen next week. (Anna Fifield)
- Haiti’s government is demanding that the U.S. put deportations on hold. The nation has 182 reported cases and 15 deaths, giving it one of the highest death rates in the Caribbean. (Farzan)
Britain will quarantine foreign travelers as part of its plan to “unlock the lockdown.”
“Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Britain on Sunday that its lockdown will mostly continue through May. Some shops and schools in England could reopen in June, and restaurants might start serving again in July — but only if the novel coronavirus is deemed under control,” William Booth reports from London. “He said progress would be contingent on the government’s ability to perform massive testing and to supply enough protective equipment to health-care workers in hospitals and nursing homes — two settings where the virus is still spreading. … With almost 32,000 killed, Britain now has the second-largest number of reported deaths from the virus, after the United States. The prime minister said travelers flying into Britain from abroad would be required to quarantine upon arrival. The government has not described how these periods of isolation would be enforced. Starting on Monday, Johnson said, Britain would take ‘the first careful steps to modify our measures’ by encouraging those who cannot work from home — but are employed in construction and manufacturing, for example — to return to their jobs. How those workers will get there is unclear, as the prime minister said they should avoid ‘public transport if at all possible’ but instead travel by car, bicycle or on foot. At work, he said, employers should establish strict social distancing solutions.”
France began easing its strict lockdown measures after eight weeks.
Hair salons and small shops began reopening today after the number of daily deaths and people in intensive care has fallen sharply from the epidemic’s peak in mid-April. The country is mandating masks in high schools, shops and public transportation. Video cameras integrated with artificial intelligence will monitor overall compliance on the Metro. All this has been accepted will little controversy. Still, burqas remain banned, an irony many Muslims and religious freedom advocates made sure to point out, James McAuley reports from Paris.
While some countries open up, Brazil can’t find a way to shut down.
“Brazil, which has registered nearly 11,000 dead and become the world’s latest coronavirus hot spot, still cannot find a way to properly shut down,” Terrence McCoy reports from Rio. “In hard-hit urban centers such as Rio de Janeiro, people still pack the streets. The boardwalks are still populated by beachgoers, including the elderly. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is still downplaying the threat, declaring last week he would celebrate the weekend with a massive barbecue. Following pushback, he rode a water scooter instead. Rather than unifying the country against a common threat, the pandemic response is further dividing this deeply polarized society. Bolsonaro, whose instinct has been to do nothing, has deferred to state governors, who in turn have punted the responsibility of implementing the strictest measures to municipalities. The result has been a confederacy of conflicting and contradictory measures that change not only by state and city, but also by city section."
As the virus spreads, Egypt's strongman sees an opportunity to strengthen his grip on power.
On Friday, President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi “approved amendments to the nation’s emergency law, giving himself and security agencies additional powers. The stricter measures, the government claims, are needed to address a legal ‘vacuum’ and prevent the spread of covid-19,” Sudarsan Raghavan reports from Cairo. “But activists say some of the measures open the door to more abuses of rights and freedoms. … Only five of the 18 amendments to the law clearly involve public health issues, Human Rights Watch said. For example, the changes allow Sissi to shut down schools, universities, courts and businesses, as well as quarantine people returning from overseas. Other amendments allow him to postpone tax and utility payments as well as provide economic support to affected communities and business sectors.”
- An Iranian warship was hit by a missile in a training accident, killing 19 sailors and wounding 15 others, Iran’s navy said. (Reuters)
- Beijing is testing temperature-monitoring bracelets. The wearable technology monitors students’ body temperatures in real-time and transmits the data to an app that can be monitored by parents, teachers and authorities. If the bracelet records a spike in temperature, it sends an alert. (Allyson Chiu)
- Russia announced 11,600 new cases today, for a total of 221,000, meaning it has overtaken Italy and the U.K. for the third-most reported covid-19 cases in the world. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
Social media speed read
Trump promoted one of his private golf courses on his Twitter account:
A civilian appears to have interrupted Boris Johnson’s coffee (tea?) break:
A Brazilian newspaper remembered those who have died from the virus even as its president minimizes it:
And the husband of Joe Biden's campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, would like people to respect some boundaries:
Videos of the day
John Oliver explained why the U.S. Postal Service is so important:
And Trevor Noah had a message for the Class of 2020: