Canada has extended restrictions limiting non-essential travel to and from the US. The restrictions will be in place until 21 August, “to keep people in both our countries safe” said prime minister Justin Trudeau.
Dallas, Texas, officials won’t reopen schools until at least 8 September.
The Dallas Independent school district is the latest major school district to reconsider reopening plans as the number of coronavirus cases swell. Dallas county had reported nearly 36,000 coronavirus cases so far.
Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott said Texas schools would be allowed to extend online-only classes after the Texas Education Agency (TEA) initially said schools could lose funding if they remained online-only for more than three weeks.
Abbott said the state would ease up its stringent reopening requirements as the number of cases and hospitalizations continued to grow.
at 6.21pm EDT
My colleague Kenya Evelyn brings us more context on the coronavirus surge:
Covid-19 infections are rising in 41 US states, with some southern hotspots taking crisis measures on Thursday, including calling in military medics and parking mobile morgue trucks outside hospitals, echoing scenes in New York City when it became the center of the world outbreak in the spring.
The spread of the virus has resulted in almost 56,000 hospitalizations for Covid-19 in the US currently. A month ago hospitalizations were rising in 11 states; now they are rising in 33 states.
Several states have been breaking records on many days in the last week as numbers rise. Florida set a record of almost 14,000 new cases on Wednesday as it became the focus of attention of the southern surge in Covid-19.
In other developments, Georgia governor Brian Kemp suspended local mask mandates on Wednesday, and early on Thursday, the Republican National Committee announced plans to scale back its national convention next month in Jacksonville, Florida, which it had moved from North Carolina before the surge of cases in Florida, hoping for fewer restrictions on crowds.
The RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, confirmed the update in a letter to convention delegates, noting they will comply with local and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health guidelines while adapting the events.
“We still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” she wrote. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his re-nomination for a second term – while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.”
The Centers for Disease Contol and Prevention (CDC) has extended its’ no-sail order for cruises, blocking cruise ships docked at US ports from operating until at least 1 October.
Coronavirus cases have surged in Florida and California — where thousands of cruises would usually frequent. The CDC first put these restrictions in place in March. In the extension, which the public health authority announced today, it noted that between 1 March and 10 July, nearly 3,000 infections and 34 deaths were linked in cruise ships.
Eighty percent of ships within US jurisdiction were affected by Covid-19 during that time frame, the CDC said.
Industry group Cruise Lines International Association had already announced in June that members would voluntarily suspend cruises until mid-September.
Hi there, it’s Maanvi Singh – reporting from the West Coast.
Following White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s suggestion that “The science should not stand in the way” of schools reopening, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) issued a scathing statement criticizing the administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
“Now the Trump administration wants to further risk the lives of teachers, children, staff, and their families just to soothe the president’s ego,” said Lily Adams, a DNC spokesperson. “This president would rather accept conspiracy theories and reject science than listen to public health experts. He can’t be trusted to make decisions about the lives of America’s children and their families.”
Today so far
That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- The White House suggested science should not determine whether schools reopen this fall. “The science should not stand in the way of this,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said of Trump’s push to reopen schools. She later added, “The science is on our side here.” McEnany’s comments come as a number of school officials express concern about the potential spread of coronavirus in the classroom.
- A new CDC report said Trump’s European travel ban was enacted too late to protect New York residents. “Although travel restrictions are an important mitigation strategy, by the time the European restrictions were implemented, importation and community transmission of Sars-CoV-2 had already occurred in NYC,” the report says. Although the rate of new infections has slowed significantly in New York, the city has lost more than 23,000 residents to the virus.
- The supreme court declined to block a Florida law criticized as a “poll tax.” Florida can continue to block people with felony convictions from voting until they’ve repaid all fines and fees they owe, the US supreme court ruled today. Florida Republicans passed the law after the state’s voters approved a 2018 initiative to restore voting rights to those previously convicted of felonies.
- The Republican National Committee is reportedly planning for a downsized nominating convention next month, as coronavirus cases rise in 41 states. According to reports, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a letter to delegates that attendance would be strictly limited at next month’s convention in Jacksonville, Florida.
- Russian state-sponsored hackers have been targeting organizations working to develop a coronavirus vaccine, British security officials said. The hacking efforts have been specifically targeting groups involved in vaccine work in the UK, the US and Canada.
Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Trump’s remarks on regulation rollbacks have taken an unsurprising turn toward the political, as the president unleashes an attack against Joe Biden.
Trump warned his Democratic opponent’s policies would kill jobs, make energy unaffordable and destroy suburbs.
“Suburbia will be no longer as we know it,” Trump said, warning Democrats would “watch it go to hell.” “Not while I am here,” Trump added. “The suburb destruction will end with us.”
The president specifically said he would discuss the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule next week to help suburbs. The AFFH rule requires federal agencies to further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act.
Trump’s promises to suburban Americans come as suburbs across the country, previously a Republican stronghold, increasingly shift toward Democrats.
During his remarks on rolling back regulations, Trump once again complained about the water pressure in energy-efficient showers.
“Showerheads, you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” the president said at his White House event. “You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer? Or you take a shower longer?”
Trump then added, “Because my hair, I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect.” That comment attracted some chuckles and applause from the friendly crowd gathered on the South Lawn.
Trump has now appeared at the podium for his White House event on rolling back government regulations.
The president touted his own record on regulation rollbacks, boasting that his administration has made unprecedented progress in “freeing our citizens to reach their highest potential.”
Trump bragged that his White House has cut “nearly 25,000 pages of job-destroying regulations,” specifically praising his administration’s recent rollback of environmental regulations for infrastructure projects.
However, enviornmental activists have warned the infrastructure regulation rollback could put average Americans at risk of being harmed by quickly approved projects.
Trump will soon deliver remarks on “Rolling Back Regulations to Help All Americans” at the White House.
Before the president’s remarks, the White House set up a large crane lifting weights meant to symbolize the burden of regulations from a red truck, while a nearby blue truck remained weighed down.
The very unsubtle visual was clearly meant to demonstrate how Republicans, often symbolized by the color red, were liberating Americans from regulations promoted by Democrats, who are usually symbolized by the color blue.
The visual likely foreshadowed the partisan tone of the president’s speech, which comes as some of Trump’s critics have called him out for inappropriately politicizing White House events.
Arkansas to require face masks to combat coronavirus surge
Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Thursday became the latest governor to issue an order requiring people to wear face masks in public throughout their state.
Arkansas has had a surge in coronavirus cases over the past several weeks.
The Republican governor had previously resisted a statewide mask mandate and opposed issuing a stay-at-home order earlier in the pandemic, but he signed the order requiring masks when social distancing isn’t possible in the hopes of slowing the disease’s rapid spread in the state.
The order takes effect Monday.
Hutchinson’s decision comes amid growing support for mask requirements from business and health leaders and a day after Bentonville-based Walmart said it would require customers to wear masks in all of its US stores. The state’s largest newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, also called for a statewide requirement on Thursday.
at 3.52pm EDT
White House: ‘The science should not stand in the way’ of reopening schools
Moments ago, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s push to reopen schools, despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the classroom.
“And when he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school,” McEnany noted furing her White House briefing.
“The science should not stand in the way of this,” McEnany said, adding moments later, “The science is on our side here.”
However, a number of school officials have expressed concern about students and staff members potentially contracting the virus once in-person instruction resumes. In response to those concerns, many school districts have announced plans to hold virtual classes this fall.
Trump and some of his allies have pointed to evidence that children are very unlikely to become severely ill from coronavirus to justify their push to reopen schools.
However, many public health experts have said there has not yet been enough research conducted on how children react to the virus.
at 3.30pm EDT
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has now concluded today’s briefing.
Before leaving the podium, McEnany was asked about criticism that Trump has inappropriately politicized recent White House events, including his Rose Garden press conference earlier this week, during which the president leveled attacks against Joe Biden.
In response, the press secretary said the White House always complies with the Hatch Act, an ethics law that exempts the president and the vice president from its provisions.
When a reporter noted the Hatch Act was not the focus of the criticism, McEnany told the journalist, “What your real problem was is that the president gave a very good, powerful speech from the Rose Garden.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the president’s standing with the American people, as multiple polls show his approval rating dropping.
“We believe this president has great approval in this country,” McEnany said. “His historic Covid response speaks for itself.”
In reality, a number of polls have shown Trump’s approval rating slipping in recent weeks, as criticism of his response to the pandemic intensifies.
According to the FiveThirtyEight average, the president’s approval has dropped more than five points since late March and now stands at 40%.
An ABC News/Ipsos poll released last week also showed Trump’s approval rating specifically on coronavirus had hit a record low, with 67% of Americans expressing disapproval of his response to the pandemic.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump would remain on Twitter, despite yesterday’s widespread hack of the social media platform.
McEnany said the president’s account was secure and White House officials were in “constant” contact with Twitter executives to ensure the security of Trump’s account.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany pushed back against a question on why Trump has been holding many events unrelated to coronavirus in recent weeks.
McEnany replied that the pandemic was a “top priority of this administration,” insisting Trump and his advisers are focused on coronavirus.
“We doing stuff each and every day,” McEnany said. “The president is focusing on a lot.”
Asked whether he has recently met with the White House coronavirus task force, McEnany deflected, saying, “The president is briefed on coronavirus each and every day.”
White House accuses Hogan of ‘revisionist history’ after critical op-ed
Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, is currently holding a briefing at the White House.
The first question to McEnany centered on the newly published op-ed by Republican governor Larry Hogan, which criticized Trump for failing to provide federal leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The press secretary said Hogan’s comments were “really striking” considering the governor’s past praise of Trump. McEnany then read some of Hogan’s comments about the president from March and April.
McEnany accused Hogan of engaing in “revisionist history” when it comes to Trump’s response to the pandemic.
CDC report: Trump’s European travel ban came too late for New York
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Trump’s European travel ban was enacted too late to protect New York residents.
“Although travel restrictions are an important mitigation strategy, by the time the European restrictions were implemented, importation and community transmission of Sars-CoV-2 had already occurred in NYC,” the report says.
Trump introduced severe restrictions on travel from China in early February in the hope of preventing travelers from spreading coronavirus in the US.
However, the president did not unveil similar restrictions on European travel until mid-March, when the CDC says the virus had already made its way to New York.
New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has previously sought to deflect criticism of his administration’s response to the pandemic by arguing he was not adequately warned about how the virus was spreading from European travel.
“We closed the front door with the China travel ban, which was right,” Cuomo said in late April. “But we left the back door open because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban.”
One of Cuomo’s top advisers quickly shared the report on Twitter, encouraging “those who wonder why NYC was hit so hard” to read the findings.
Although New York’s rate of coronavirus deaths has dropped substantially in the past few months, the state’s total death toll still surpasses that of any other US state.
Since the start of the pandemic, New York has confirmed more than 400,000 coronavirus cases across the state, and more than 32,000 residents have lost their lives to the virus.
at 2.44pm EDT
More from the Guardian’s Sam Levine on the supreme court’s ruling:
In late May, US district Judge Robert Hinkle struck down the Florida law that required those with felony convictions to repay any debts assessed as part of their sentence before they could vote again.
Florida appealed the ruling, and in late May, the US court of appeals blocked the lower court’s ruling while the appeal was pending. The plaintiffs in the case filed an emergency request with the US supreme court to let Hinkle’s ruling go into effect so the people impacted by the law could vote in Florida’s August primary.
The supreme court declined to do so on Thursday, meaning Hinkle’s ruling will not be in effect while the 11th circuit considers the appeal. It is currently scheduled to hear the case 18 August.
The supreme court did not offer an explanation for its ruling on Thursday, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor – joined by Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg – authored a scathing dissent, saying they would have let Hinkle’s ruling go into effect.
“This Court’s order prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor,” Sotomayor wrote in dissent.
Sotomayor also called out the supreme court for its willingness to uphold voting restrictions in a number of cases over the last several months.
The court shortened the deadline to return absentee ballots in Wisconsin as well as u[held restrictions on voting by mail in Texas and Alabama. Only in the Wisconsin case has the court offered any reasoning for its thinking, relying on a 2006 case, Purcell v. Gonzalez, that says courts should not interfere with election rules on the eve of an election.
“This Court’s inaction continues a trend of condoning disfranchisement. Ironically, this Court has wielded Purcell as a reason to forbid courts to make voting safer during a pandemic,” she wrote. “Now, faced with an appellate court stay that disrupts a legal status quo and risks immense disfranchisement—a situation that Purcell sought to avoid—the Court balks.”