with Mariana Alfaro
President Trump has been known to bend the facts, or outright misrepresent them, during his three-and-a-half years in the White House. And part of the problem he faces with the novel coronavirus is trying to defuse it rhetorically, by insisting for months that the virus would simply go away.
In battling the “invisible enemy,” as Trump likes to call covid-19, the president has run straight into the facts.
There have now been 88,000 coronavirus deaths and roughly 1.5 million infections reported in the United States. There is little sign that “this is going to go away without a vaccine,” as Trump recently claimed. Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug Trump repeatedly touted as a “game-changer” is now proving instead dangerous to some coronavirus patients. And the president's repeated promise that every American who wants to be tested can be has yet to be realized. In fact, Trump's latest talking point is testing is “overrated” because “when you test, you have a case.”
Perhaps this is why Trump and his team appear to be applying pressure to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rethink how it is calculating the number of virus deaths — in a way that may lower them. That includes White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx.
The Daily Beast reported late last week the president and some inside the task force are “pushing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported, according to five administration officials working on the government’s response to the pandemic.” They believe the death count is being inflated in some states by including deaths attributed to covid-19, even without positive tests confirming it. Some states are also counting people with covid-19 that may have died from other causes.
“[A]ccording to one of the sources with knowledge of Trump’s private remarks, the president recently said that he’d like a ‘review’ of how the coronavirus deaths are counted and studied by the government, citing hypothetical cases in which a person has the virus but is killed by other unnatural means, such as falling down a flight of stairs. The other source said that Trump pointed out that death estimates for other incidents — such as natural disasters and wars — are revised down or up ‘all the time’ and the same could be true of covid-19, write the Beast's Erin Banco and Asawin Suebsaeng.
The Washington Post had earlier reported on similar cold water thrown on the official U.S. death toll from Birx amid a robust debate over data between her and CDC Director Robert Redfield.
“Birx and others were frustrated with the CDC’s antiquated system for tracking virus data, which they worried was inflating some statistics — such as mortality rate and case count — by as much as 25 percent, according to four people present for the discussion or later briefed on it. Two senior administration officials said the discussion was not heated,” reported Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Yasmeen Abutaleb.
“There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust,” Birx said, according to the The Post’s reporting.
But other experts, including one of Birx's colleagues on the task force, top infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci, say the recorded death toll, if anything, is an undercount.
The fight over death data is the culmination of a months-long breakdown in the relationship between the White House and CDC.
The prestigious public health agency should be running point during this pandemic, but the CDC and Redfield have been sidelined for a variety of reasons – including their early errors on testing, their officials making scientifically sound but politically charged statements, and the agency's attempt to issue very specific guidance for reopening the states.
The latest skirmish came yesterday when White House trade adviser Peter Navarro hit the CDC on testing on NBC's “Meet the Press.”
“Early on in this crisis, the CDC — which really had the most trusted brand around the world in this space — really let the country down with the testing,” Navarro said. “Because not only did they keep the testing within the bureaucracy, they had a bad test. And that did set us back.”
Replied Health and Human Services head Alex Azar, whose department oversees the CDC: “I don’t believe the CDC let this country down,” Azar said on CBS's “Face the Nation.” “I believe the CDC serves an important public health role. And what was always critical was to get the private sector to the table [on testing].”
The White House is “frustrated by what they consider the agency’s balky flow of data and information, the leak of an early version of the CDC’s reopening recommendations, and the agency’s crucial early failure to create and roll out a test for the virus, according to three administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal disagreements,” report The Post's Lenny Bernstein, Dawsey and Abutaleb.
Things have broken down to such an extent that the government hired TeleTracking Technologies, a Pittsburgh firm, to collect data on hospital beds, capacity, covid-19 deaths and infections – information already provided by the CDC.
“One senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss these problems, said the soft-spoken, deeply religious Redfield has few allies in the rough-and-tumble internal politics of the Trump administration,” report my colleagues. “'He just has no power over his agency. He has no loyal politicals. He is a man on an island,' that person said.”
Furthermore, Fauci “is widely known to loathe” Redfield and “vice versa,” wrote the Financial Times.
The fight between the White and the CDC has been going on nearly since reports of the pandemic reached the White House in January.
The CDC whiffed the initial distribution of tests before the White House began to take the virus seriously. After distributing a flawed system, the agency failed to fix the test quickly, severely restricted those eligible for testing, and refused to adopt a smoother running exam being used by the World Health Organization.
But Trump clamped down on the agency at a crucial time after CDC official Nancy Messonnier said in late February it wasn't a matter of if but when the virus would spread in the United States and that “disruption to everyday life might be severe.”
Messonnier now seems awfully prescient. But Trump was “enraged” by the comments as the stock market tanked, and the day after, he named Vice President Pence the head of the coronavirus task force. The CDC hasn't held a news conference since March 9 and public health officials were directed to coordinate their public remarks with Pence for the time being.
Trump's relationship with CDC officials deteriorated further when Redfield, a military doctor who ran the AIDs response but has not led a government agency until now, told The Post things could worsen with a second wave of the virus.
“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” he told Lena H. Sun. “We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said.
The discordant note from a member of his team did not please Trump, who claimed his CDC head was “misquoted” and vowed a retraction would be forthcoming. It was not, but Redfield was summoned to the briefing room podium later that day to clarify he meant the combined effects of covid-19 and the flu converging at the same time. But Redfield asserted he was “accurately quoted in The Washington Post.”
The fight over CDC draft reopening guidance has also strained relations between the agency and the White House.
The Post reported in mid-April that “CDC and FEMA officials have worked on the public health response for at least the past week, and the resulting document has been discussed at the White House, including by members of the coronavirus task force.”
But the early draft was never released. Instead, “the CDC released just six short ‘decision trees’ Thursday while the rest of its lengthy proposal remains under review at the White House, where it has been for weeks," report Bernstein, Dawsey and Abutaleb.
All of this has led to where we are now: The CDC is playing, at most, backseat driver in the most challenging pandemic since 1918.
And it is making it easier for Trump and his allies to suggest the death count might be inflated.
It seems unlikely that has happened, according to experts. A Post analysis counted 37,100 “excess deaths” in March and the first two weeks of April, meaning that many more people died than normally do at that time of the year. That doesn't mean those people all died of covid-19, but it is a signal in the noise for scientists looking for answers.
A hallmark of the Trump presidency has been his shading of the facts and shunning of science largely accepted by other public policymakers. Those things could be a major liability during a pandemic that requires a clear-eyed look at the truths, even if they're unpalatable, to make the best decisions for the country. And save American lives.
Quote of the day
“It’s always hard to lose someone you love. But to lose someone when you have to wonder: What were their last days like? Were they afraid? Were they cold? Were they lonely? That is a kind of grief that is new to all of us. And my brothers won’t get over this. They just won’t. None of us will," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about losing her brother, Donald Reed Herring, to covid-19. (The Atlantic)
More on the Trump presidency
State Dept. inspector general fired by Trump was looking into allegations that Pompeo had a staffer walk his dog.
Steve Linick, the quasi-independent watchdog whose job it was to expose waste and malfeasance within the agency, “was looking into allegations that a staffer for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was performing domestic errands and chores such as handling dry cleaning, walking the family dog and making restaurant reservations, said a congressional official familiar with the matter,” Mike DeBonis and John Hudson report. “It remains unclear what specifically triggered his ouster Friday night. The congressional official … said that the State Department staffer was a political appointee and that at least one congressional committee learned of the allegations around the time of Linick’s firing. …
“The White House said Trump’s late-night ouster of Linick came at the recommendation of Pompeo, a decision that has prompted criticisms from Democrats and some Republicans as a threat to good governance and oversight. … Trump replaced Linick with Stephen J. Akard, a trusted ally of Vice President Pence and the official in charge of the Office of Foreign Missions. … On Saturday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s ranking Democrat, Robert Menendez (N.J.), launched a joint investigation into Linick’s firing.”
Trump appears poised to let others take the lead in the next phase of the pandemic.
“Amid a once-in-a-century deadly pandemic, Trump has inserted his ego squarely into the U.S. response while simultaneously minimizing his own role — deferring critical decisions to others, undermining his credibility with confusion and misinformation, and shirking responsibility in what some see as a shrinking of the American presidency," Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report. "Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who studies presidential leadership, said Trump has diminished the influence of his office relative to the outsize responsibilities past presidents have taken on during crises, most notably Franklin D. Roosevelt amid the Great Depression and World War II. … Unlike former president Barack Obama — who made a point of getting photographed receiving an H1N1 vaccine to encourage the public to do similarly — Trump has largely modeled poor public health behavior."
- The economic downturn could last until the end of 2021, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said. “We’ll get through this,” he told CBS’s “60 Minutes." “It may take a while." Powell downplayed comparisons to the Great Depression, but said the unemployment rate could reach 25 percent, as it did in the 1930s. He pointed out that the economy was healthy before the downturn, meaning that there could be a quick rebound. (Antonia Farzan)
- Hundreds of military personnel across all three branches are this year reenlisting or postponing their departures from the armed forces. Many of them are signing up for new short-term extensions that offer job security, steady paychecks and benefits. (Teo Armus)
Eric Trump falsely claimed the pandemic is a Democratic hoax that will “magically” vanish after the election.
“In an interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro, [Eric] Trump suggested the president’s critics were using the pandemic to undermine his father’s rallies, calling it a ‘cognizant strategy’ that would cease once it was no longer politically expedient. ‘You watch, they’ll milk it every single day between now and November 3,’ the younger Trump said. ‘And guess what, after November 3, coronavirus will magically, all of a sudden, go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen,’” Derek Hawkins reports. “He also attacked former vice president Joe Biden and boasted about crowd sizes at President Trump’s political events. … The Biden campaign pushed back against Trump’s comments, calling them ‘unbelievably reckless.’”
Faced with a Trumpian barrage of attacks, Joe Biden is choosing to look the other way.
“Biden’s advisers, aware of what Trump is preparing to fire at him, describe themselves as dead set against being triggered by his provocations or engaging with him on his terms. Voters will decide the election, they believe, in response to the crisis now engulfing the nation, not the spectacle of Trump’s Twitter feed,” Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey report. “The most explosive Trump volleys have been dismissed by them as distractions — so far at least — even as Trump’s attacks on the former vice president’s competence and economic record stir more concern and response. … [Some of Biden’s top advisers are] predicting that Trump’s tactics of embracing false conspiracy theories and stirring up hurricanes of controversy could backfire …
“It’s a wager the Trump campaign’s top advisers are happy to take. After more than two months of mixed messages and inconsistent strategy, Trump chose the second week of May to finally launch his campaign at its full power against Biden, attacking his record, his integrity and his mental acuity with a media blitz anchored by about $10 million in television ads in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, Iowa and North Carolina. … Pro-Trump ads in the electoral battlegrounds now outnumber Democratic ads for the first time this year, by a margin of about 2 to 1 since the beginning of the month, according to Democratic advertising tracking data provided to The Post.”
- The New York Times interviewed 59 members of the Democratic National Committee who will nominate Biden this summer and the vast majority of them said they don’t want to risk their health, or others’, by attending a full-scale convention in Milwaukee.
Dispatches from the front lines
Juliet Daly, 12, rides her bike outside her home in Covington, La., after recovering from a rare heart condition believed to be triggered by an inflammatory response to covid-19. (Gerald Herbert/AP)
Juliet Daly was a healthy 12-year-old until the virus infected her heart. Then she suffered two heart attacks.
“The day Juliet Daly’s heart gave out started much like every other Monday during the quarantine. The 12-year-old from Covington, La., padded out of her room in her PJs shortly after 7 a.m., ate a half-bowl of Rice Krispies, and got on a Zoom call with her sixth-grade social studies class. She had been feeling unwell all weekend with twisting abdominal pains, vomiting and a fever of 101.5, but she seemed to be on the mend,” Ariana Eunjung Cha and Chelsea Janes report. When she was taken to the emergency department, “doctors noticed an unusual constellation of symptoms pointing to a different problem. Her heart rate was extraordinarily low, jumping around in the 40s when it should have been between 70 to 120 beats per minute. And when they squeezed her nails, they turned white and stayed white when they should have gone back to pink. Juliet was in a kind of toxic shock, and her heart had become so inflamed it was barely beating. … The doctors knew enough about the pathogen’s effects on adults that they immediately suspected the coronavirus. Cases like Juliet’s, a puzzling inflammatory syndrome in children believed linked to covid-19, had been popping up in different parts of the world for months, but it wasn’t until recently that health authorities began tracking the phenomenon."
Similarly, 14-year-old Jack McMorrow woke up one day with heart failure.
“When a sprinkling of a reddish rash appeared on Jack McMorrow’s hands in mid-April, his father figured the 14-year-old was overusing hand sanitizer — not a bad thing during a global pandemic. When Jack’s parents noticed that his eyes looked glossy, they attributed it to late nights of video games and TV,” the Times reports. “But over the next 10 days, Jack felt increasingly unwell. His parents consulted his pediatricians in video appointments and took him to a weekend urgent care clinic. Then, one morning, he awoke unable to move. He had a tennis-ball-size lymph node, raging fever, racing heartbeat and dangerously low blood pressure. … Jack, who was previously healthy, was hospitalized with heart failure that day, in a stark example of the newly discovered severe inflammatory syndrome linked to the coronavirus … Jack’s recovery and the experience of other survivors are Rosetta stones for doctors, health officials and parents anxious to understand the mysterious condition.”
Frontrunners in the race for a vaccine are emerging.
“Governments and drugmakers are weighing how to roll out coronavirus vaccines, including reserving the first batches for health-care workers, as several shots race to early leads,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Of more than 100 vaccines in development globally, at least eight have started testing in humans, including candidates from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. At the same time, pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca PLC and Sanofi are building capacity to make hundreds of millions of doses of their own or their partners’ vaccines. … Yet there isn’t a guarantee that any of the most advanced vaccine candidates will prove to work safely on such a short timetable.”
As testing expands,there's a new problem: Not many people are lining up to get tested.
“A Post survey of governors’ offices and state health departments found at least a dozen states where testing capacity outstrips the supply of patients. Many have scrambled to make testing more convenient, especially for vulnerable communities, by setting up pop-up sites and developing apps that help assess symptoms, find free test sites and deliver quick results. But the numbers, while rising, are well short of capacity — and far short of targets set by independent experts. Utah, for example, is conducting about 3,500 tests a day, a little more than a third of its 9,000-test maximum capacity, and health officials have erected highway billboards begging drivers to ‘GET TESTED FOR COVID-19,’” Steve Thompson, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report. “Why aren’t more people showing up? … Experts say several factors may be preventing more people from seeking tests, including a lingering sense of scarcity, a lack of access in rural and underserved communities, concerns about cost, and skepticism about testing operations. …
“Another major hurdle: lingering confusion about who qualifies. … ‘A lot of states put in very, very restrictive testing policies . . . because they didn’t have any tests. And they’ve either not relaxed those, or the word is not getting out,’ said Ashish Jha, who directs the Harvard Global Health Institute. ‘We want to be at a point where everybody who has mild symptoms is tested. That is critical. That is still not happening in a lot of places.’ … A White House estimate, obtained by The Post, shows the nation has sufficient lab capacity to process at least 400,000 tests per day, and potentially many more. But in surveying the states, The Post found that few are testing at full capacity.”
Georgia offers America a preview of how it might reemerge from the virus.
“The sky was blue, the sun was rising, and as the death toll from the coronavirus continued to soar across much of America, the fountains switched on in Avalon, a development of restaurants and shops in a wealthy corner of suburban Atlanta. It was time for life to resume, Georgia’s governor had decided, so a masked worker swept the threshold of Chanel,” Stephanie McCrummen reports. “A gardener fluffed pink roses in planters along the sidewalks, where signs on doors said what so many had been waiting to hear. ‘Open,’ read one. ‘Welcome back!’ read another. … Stay-at-home-orders are being lifted, businesses are opening, and millions of Americans now find themselves free to make millions of individual decisions about how to calibrate their sense of civic duty with their pent-up desires for the old routines and indulgences of life.
“In this grand gamble, Georgia has gone first, with Gov. Brian Kemp (R) dismissing public health experts who’ve warned that opening too soon could cause a catastrophic surge of deaths, placing his faith instead in the citizens of Georgia to make up their own minds about what risks and sacrifices they were willing to accept … Outside Urban Outfitters, Jennifer Kiernan was having a glass of wine as her daughter shopped inside. ‘Oh my God, this feels great — I love it,’ she said, explaining that she assumed that she and everyone around her was healthy. “I think people would not be out if they had been exposed to anyone with corona.”
There are no case spikes in places that are reopening, but it’s still early.
Still, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said identifying and reporting new cases takes time. “That's why a critical part of reopening has been influenza-like illness surveillance and other hospital admission surveillance, as well as syndromic testing of asymptomatic individuals, especially in high-risk communities,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.. “It’s still early days,” he said.
Azar, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said that underlying health conditions among Americans, particularly among minorities, have augmented the death toll. Host Jake Tapper pushed back, asking whether he was suggesting so many Americans had died because they were “unhealthier than the rest of the world?” Azar said no, but added the U.S has a “significantly disproportionate burden of co-morbidities,” including obesity, hypertension and diabetes. (Teo Armus)
Transit workers are paying a heavy price during the pandemic.
“The covid-19 deaths were piling up so fast that New York City bus driver Danny Cruz began to worry that no one understood the toll the virus was taking on his fellow transit workers. So in early April, he began keeping a list of those killed by the disease and posting it on Facebook. Cruz had lost a friend and fellow driver at his depot to the novel coronavirus a few days earlier. He also had tested positive for it himself,” Justin George and Greg Jaffe report. “By Cruz’s count, 129 New York City transit workers have died of covid-19. … For transit workers, the return to normal life only exacerbates their fears. … At least 10,000 Metropolitan Transit Authority employees have been quarantined during the outbreak."
Even as New Orleans reopens, tourists and residents are hesitant to return.
“It was Day One of Phase 1 — when the stay-at-home order was lifted and New Orleans was supposed to begin coming back to life. For the first time in two months, most businesses were allowed to open. Restaurants and food-serving bars could seat customers at 25 percent capacity,” David Montgomery and Richard Webster report. But “on Bourbon Street alone, three huge hotels with many hundreds of rooms between them sat shuttered. … Food and beer trucks started appearing around town last week as some restaurants and bars laid in supplies. But in a sign of the ambivalent nature of this reopening, several business owners said they were going to pass up the opportunity for now. To them, it’s still too soon to bring customers in safely and make employees cook in cramped kitchens. And it doesn’t make economic sense to operate at 25 percent capacity, they said, which all but guarantees they will lose money.”
- Meanwhile, people flocked to New York City-area bars and beaches this weekend as “quarantine fatigue” intensifies. Pictures of crowds outside bars and restaurants quickly made their way to Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). "The police department will be out, the sheriff's office will be out watching very carefully on the Upper East Side in particular," he added. "We're not going to tolerate people congregating. It's as simple as that.” (NBC New York)
- On the first Sunday it could reopen in Virginia, a church called Hopeful Baptist lived up to its name as a dozen people, longing to connect, walked prayer circles around the building. Things looked dramatically different: the Communion’s juice and cracker came in pre-sealed cups and the hymnals and Bibles were missing, replaced by photocopied handouts of the day’s readings. (Michelle Boorstein)
- Apple will reopen 25 U.S. stores this week in states including Florida, California, Washington and Colorado. Some of the stores will allow shoppers in, while others will only allow curbside pickups. Temperature checks will be required and customers must wear masks. (CNBC)
- Massachusetts’s reopening will start today with places of worship, construction and manufacturing, according to Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) administration. All sites will be required to meet new safety protocols. (NBC Boston)
- Texas gyms will be allowed to reopen this week at limited capacity. The state already allows restaurants, retail, museums and churches to open at 25 percent capacity. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is expected to announce the reopening of more businesses today, including bars. (KHOU)
- The era of socially distanced concerts is here, and Tupelo Music Hall in Derry, N.H. just held one of the first ones. The venue built an outdoor stage, installed a sound system and divided the parking lot to accommodate 75 cars so socially distanced audience members could enjoy local bar-band singer Tim Theriault. (Geoff Edgers)
- A 45-day shutdown saved 6,202 lives and kept 57,072 out of the hospital in Philadelphia, a Drexel University study found. (ABC Philadelphia)
The foreign fallout
“Express burials” are raising fears Nicaragua is hiding a coronavirus tragedy.
“Nicaragua has stood out in Latin America for an almost complete lack of restrictions to contain [the virus]. The government of President Daniel Ortega has kept offices and schools open. Authorities deny the virus has spread widely; in this nation of 6 million, one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, they insist there have been only 25 cases and eight deaths,” Ismael López Ocampo and Mary Beth Sheridan report. “Health officials give far higher estimates. And the speedy burials are hardly the norm for victims of common respiratory illnesses. Often, they are carried out at night by white-suited medical personnel, with police or members of pro-government paramilitary groups watching nearby. They come as signs of the outbreak are multiplying. … Late last month, a 57-year-old government worker was quietly interred in Managua, after dying of what was classified as cardiogenic shock, a heart problem. The burial was so swift that ‘they put him in the coffin in his hospital gown’ said the man’s daughter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. ‘At 5 in the morning they buried him without his family present.’”
Belgium, by official numbers, has been the country hardest-hit in the world by the virus.
“The nation of 12 million has the highest mortality rate among confirmed cases, at 16.4 percent. And it has the most deaths in terms of its population: 78 deaths per 100,000 people, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University,” Michael Birnbaum reports. “Belgian officials have sought to tamp down concern by suggesting their chart-topping numbers are products of their accounting methods and commitment to capturing an accurate picture of their outbreak. Other ways of estimating virus-related deaths suggest that the Belgian method might indeed turn out to be among the most accurate in the world, and that other countries may be significantly undercounting their death tolls. The bad news for Belgium is that even in those other calculations, the country still comes off poorly compared to its neighbors, after adjusting for their size.”
- Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has fallen into a recession for the first time in four years. The nation’s economy shrank by 3.4 percent between January and March, new government statistics show. Analysts predict the worst damage is yet to come and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised a second budget to supplement an unprecedented $1 trillion stimulus package. (Antonia Farzan)
- Chinese leader Xi Jinping will speak before the World Health Assembly today amid calls from more than 120 nations for an independent probe into the virus's origins. The assembly is the WHO’s primary decision-making body. (Farzan)
- Hospitals in Sao Paolo, Brazil’s largest city, are on the verge of collapse, according to its mayor. Sao Paulo accounts for roughly 16 percent of Brazil’s 233,000 reported virus cases, recording nearly 3,000 deaths. The area has been in a state of quarantine for two months, with schools closed and residents asked to stay home. But no punishments are in place for those who ignore the rules. (Farzan)
- Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele bypassed his country’s National Assembly to extend an emergency order that sparked a legal challenge and accusations of authoritarianism. The abrupt announcement added fuel to critics who say the 38-year-old leader has displayed troubling, autocratic tendencies. (Teo Armus)
- After more than two months of lockdown, Italy took further steps this morning to exit its restrictions, allowing restaurants, hairdressers and shops to reopen and public masses to resume. At the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica fully reopened, allowing all churchgoers to enter under strict social distancing rules. (Rick Noack)
Israel finally swore in a new government.
“Israel's new government, headed once again by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was sworn into office on Sunday, ending nearly a year-and-a-half of political stalemate involving three stormy elections and multiple rounds of coalition negotiations,” Ruth Eglash reports. This “marked a fifth term for Netanyahu — his fourth consecutive term — and the first time an Israeli leader indicted on criminal charges will formally lead the country. Netanyahu opened the televised ceremony with a speech, followed by Benny Gantz, a onetime rival turned partner, who will serve in the specially created role of alternate prime minister, as well as defense minister, for the first 18 months of the term before taking over the top job for an equal period.”
Social media speed read
The president went after a CNN reporter who briefly removed her face mask while in the White House briefing room:
Nearly 90,000 Americans have been killed by coronavirus, and the president is tweeting about me pulling my mask down for six seconds on Friday. https://t.co/UYib8tS7pO— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) May 18, 2020
Never forget, there is always a tweet:
All the governors are already backing off of the Ebola quarantines. Bad decision that will lead to more mayhem.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2014
Inspired by a BBC story, some shared the last “normal” photos on their phones:
Soccer is back, at least in parts of Europe, but players still can't celebrate like they used to:
And it looks like boars are taking advantage of Berlin's empty streets:
Videos of the day
John Oliver took a look at the impact the virus has had on sports:
Trevor Noah went looking for some good news: