The National Governors Association is calling on the White House to renew the public health emergency declaration for the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently set to expire on July 25.
“The public health emergency facing every state is far from over. Despite months of response to the coronavirus pandemic, many states have hit record numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, causing many governors to pause or roll back re-openings,” the NGA said in a statement.
“The U.S. government must ensure governors, states and territories continue to have all the tools necessary to manage the COVID-19 surge.”
The group, which represents the governors of all 55 states and territories, said the PHE declaration was needed to ensure states continue to have access to critical resources and funding for testing.
“Without these options, governors’ ability to protect the health and safety of their residents will be reduced at a critical time,” the NGA statement said.
Former Fox News host Shepard Smith is joining CNBC, nine months after leaving his old network following public spats with the president.
CNBC said Smith will anchor a one-hour news program titled The News with Shepard Smith, which will air at 7pm ET starting in the fall.
“Information is coming at us from every direction. If we’re not careful life-altering decisions will be made based on half-truth, rumor, misdirection or worse,” CNBC chairman Mark Hoffman said in a statement.
“We aim to deliver a nightly program that, in some small way, looks for the signal in all the noise. We’re thrilled that Shep, who’s built a career on an honest fight to find and report the facts, will continue his pursuit of the truth at CNBC.”
Smith left Fox News in October after repeatedly criticizing Trump for spreading falsehoods and misinformation, attracting the president’s ire on Twitter.
Delivering his final message to Fox viewers, Smith said in Ocrober, “Even in our currently polarized nation, it is my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.”
New York to reopen schools with hybrid online and in-person instruction
In case you missed it: New York schools plan to reopen this fall by combining some in-person instruction with online learning.
“Most schools will not be able to have all their kids in school at the same time,” New York mayor Bill de Blasio said this morning.
De Blasio said parents would have the option to keep their children home for online-only instruction, but three quarters of New York parents indicated they wanted their children to return to school in a recent survey.
Most students will attend school in person for two to three days a week and take online lessons for the rest of the time.
“When you think about social distancing, you need more space,” de Blasio said. “You’re going to have fewer kids in a classroom, fewer kids in the school building.”
Shortly after de Blasio announced the plan, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the proposal would still have to be approved by state officials, as is required for every school district in the state.
The city’s plan is sure to displease Trump, who is pushing for schools to reopen despite lingering concerns about the spread of coronavirus in classrooms.
Vice President Mike Pence echoed Trump’s position earlier today, saying at the White House coronavirus task force briefing, “It’s time for us to get our kids back to school.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has arrived at the White House for a meeting with Trump on the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which went into effect last week.
Trump was present to welcome the Mexican president as he arrived, but the two leaders skipped the traditional handshake greeting, which has largely been abandoned amid the current pandemic.
Canadian President Justin Trudeau announced earlier this week that he would not attend the meeting, partly due to concerns over coronavirus.
“We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently,” Trudeau said last week. “We’re also concerned about the health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries.”
at 2.26pm EDT
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper had approved Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman for promotion as part of a crop of new promotions due to be sent to the White House in the coming days.
That’s what a senior US defense official told Reuters this afternoon.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, presumably because he or she was not authorized to discuss such sensitive information, though Reuters has not yet specified, said Esper had approved the list on Monday with Vindman’s name.
Vindman announced this morning that he was retiring from the military, hounded out by bullying from the White House after his devastating testimony during the impeachment process of Donald Trump, about US foreign policy with regards to Ukraine being corrupted by the president with his eye on domestic political gain.
Joe Biden released a scathing statement after the US surpassed 3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, blaming Trump for exacerbating the crisis through a lack of federal leadership.
“Today’s awful — and avoidable — news that America surpassed three million Covid-19 cases is yet another sad reminder of the cost our country is paying for President Trump’s failure to lead us through this crisis,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said in a statement released by his campaign.
“The American people have sacrificed far too much in this fight for Donald Trump to just admit defeat; they’ve done their job, and it’s long overdue for their courageous efforts to be matched with real action and leadership from the White House.”
The country’s grim milestone comes as polls show Biden leading Trump in several battleground states, with Americans increasingly expressing disapproval of the president’s handling of the pandemic.
at 2.33pm EDT
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- The US has now confirmed more than 3m cases of coronavirus, far more than any other country in the world. As the Johns Hopkins tracker of US cases surpassed 3m, Mike Pence led a White House cororonavirus task force briefing at the US department of education, urging schools to reopen in the fall despite the pandemic.
- Lt Col Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the Trump impeachment inquiry, announced his retirement from the US Army. In a statement from his lawyer, Vindman said he chose to retire because of “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” spearheaded by Trump.
- The supreme court sided with the Trump administration in a birth control case. The justices issued a 7-2 decision in support of the administration’s expanded exemptions for private employers to opt out of covering contraceptives.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
at 1.18pm EDT
The White House coronavirus task force briefing at the US department of education has now concluded.
In one of the last questions of the briefing, Mike Pence was asked why the president threatened to cut off funding to schools that don’t reopen in a tweet this morning.
Pence replied, “What you heard from the president is just a determination to provide the kind of leadership from the federal level that says we’re going to get our kids back to school.”
But schools have said they are having trouble reopening because they do not have the money to safely welcome students back.
Another reporter pressed Pence on whether the White House believed schools should adhere to the CDC’s recommendations on social distancing between students.
Pence responded, “We just don’t want the guidance to be too tough.”
at 1.19pm EDT
Mike Pence was pressed on whether Trump’s tweet criticizing the CDC’s guidelines on schools reopening made it easier for school officials to ignore those guidelines.
Pence responded by expressing his confidence in governors and local officials to make the best decisions on ensuring safe reopening for their schools.
The vice president said the CDC guidelines were not meant to “supplant” the judgment of state and local officials and were instead aimed at offering a “range of options” on reopening schools.
at 1.19pm EDT
Mike Pence signaled the Trump administration may try to tie school reopenings to states receiving federal financial relief.
Pence said the White House was looking for ways to “give states a strong incentive and encouragement to get kids back to school.”
The comment comes hours after the president threatened to withhold funding from school districts that don’t reopen in the fall.
Congress has been looking at another coronavirus relief bill, which could potentially include proivsions on school reopenings.
at 1.19pm EDT
The vice-president, Mike Pence, was asked about the president’s tweet this morning criticizing the CDC’s “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools.”
Pence told reporters, “We don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason that schools don’t open.” The vice president said Trump’s tweet was meant to convey that sentiment.
Pence added the administration was planning to work with governors and local officials as they crafted their own requirements on schools reopening.
“We really do believe that we can open these schools safely,” Pence said.
at 1.19pm EDT
Dr Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, interestingly downplayed his agency’s recommendations on how to safely reopen schools.
Redfield emphasized different schools had diffrerent needs when it came to safely reopening, and he said the recommendations were not meant to encourage schools to remain closed.
“I want to make it very clear that what is not the intent of CDC’s guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed,” Redfield said at the task force briefing. “It’s guidance; it’s not requirements,” Redfield later added.
Redfield’s comments come hours after Trump criticized the CDC for its “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools.”
Education secretary Betsy DeVos insisted schools must be fully operational this fall, despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the classroom.
“Students can and must continue to learn full-time,” DeVos said during the White House coronavirus task force briefing at the department of education.
The eduction secretary criticized Fairfax county school district in nearby Virginia for presenting “false paradigms” between education and safety. The school district had asked parents whether they wanted to convene in-person classes for zero or two days a week.
“It’s not a matter of if schools reopen. It’s simply a matter of how. They must fully open, and they must be fully operational,” DeVos said.