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Coronavirus US live: White House directs staff to wear masks, but Trump will be exempt – The Guardian






Tech investor compares ignoring public health orders to opposing discriminatory laws

Some tech investors think Elon Musk’s choice to open his factory in defiance of public health orders is a brave, important check on government power during a pandemic.

“Government power needs to be checked more than any other source of “power” and governments that abuse their mandate will lose jobs, revenue and influence,” investor Keith Rabois wrote.

Keith Rabois
(@rabois)

if he was threatening to leave a Southern state over bathroom policy you guys would be the first one cheerleading.

May 11, 2020

Rabois compared Musk’s action and his threats to take his company out of California over the state’s public health measures to the companies that publicly opposed discriminatory laws that banned transgender people from using the public bathrooms that matched their gender identities.





Joanna Walters

The banner in the White House rose garden read: “America leads the world in testing”.

This accompanied Donald Trump talking about millions of coronavirus tests being performed and how, essentially, the numbers are bigger than anywhere else in the world.

A lot of testing will definitely be needed as the US attempts to go back to work before effective treatments or a vaccine are available to knock Covid-19 on the head.

But the problem is, widespread testing first needed to be available in March and into April when the US, and the west coast and New York in particular, were trying to perform speedy mitigation (the US having failed to contain the virus before it spread rapidly), and it wasn’t anywhere near sufficient then.

For many vital weeks, the US was far behind countries such as South Korea in the rate of testing, and the crisis in South Korea has been less severe as a result.

Trump visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) onMarch 6and in a press conference for the ages (measured on how unjustifiably boastful and misleading it was), said utterly falsely that anyone who wants a test can get one.

Precious time was lost during March and April and thousands and thousands of lives could have been saved with more organization from the federal government then. There’s even a piece of art in New York about that.





Tech reporters: Elon Musk ‘knows he’s not going to get arrested’

Earlier this afternoon, an erratic billionaire tweeted that he was opening his California-based electric car factory today in defiance of public health orders.

“If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Elon Musk tweeted. (Reminder: Musk has a new baby who was born exactly a week ago, an optimal moment to dare authorities to arrest you.)

Tech reporters were not impressed with this “Twitter arrest martyrdom,” as Buzzfeed News’ Ryan Mac put it.

Ryan Mac 🙃
(@RMac18)

Musk knows he’s not going to get arrested. Every local country enforcement agency is deferring to the other when asked if they’re going to do anything. The Governor of California went out of his way to be deferential to him *after* he sued a county. https://t.co/CE1znvYSOQ

May 11, 2020

The Guardian’s California-based senior tech reporter agreed:

Julia Carrie Wong
(@juliacarriew)

guess who is not going to get arrested today

May 11, 2020

“Musk is the perfect example of what happens when the checks against power are whittled down to vestiges,” Mac wrote.

Ryan Mac 🙃
(@RMac18)

Musk is the perfect example of what happens when the checks against power are whittled down to vestiges. His board is toothless and dependent on him. State and local officials believe their constituents are reliant on Tesla’s jobs. Federal agencies have given up.

May 11, 2020





White House reporters must show solitary against Trump’s “racist” attacks, leading media correspondent says

Joanna Walters

CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter just demolished Donald Trump for the way he handled questions from CBS’s Weijia Jiang at the White House press conference in the rose garden.

Stelter said the president was clearly rattled by tough questioning at the end of the presser by Jiang. He tried to cut her off and turn to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins instead, but Collins deferred to her colleague to try to let her finish her questioning before Collins asked her question. Trump then tried to cut Collins off when she tried to ask her own question, and then abruptly ended the presser and walked off when Collins continued to try to ask hre questions.

“He didn’t want to hear the questions from Kaitlan and Weijia. It has racist overtones. It’s racist to look at an Asian-American correspondent and say ‘ask China’, it’s part of a pattern from the president,” Stelter just commented, live on CNN.

He continued: “He’s been rattled by Weijia Jiang’s questions in the past…he treats minority journalists in a very different way,” Stelter said.

He recalled how Trump dealt inappropriately with a question from correspondent April Ryan, who is black, when he asked her if she could arrange a meeting for him with the Congressional Black Caucus, in 2017.

Stelter continued, moments ago, that Trump “routinely targets women and minority journalists”.

Weijia Jiang describes herself in her autobiography as a Chinese-born West Virginian.

Stelter said: “The pattern [of Trump’s attacks] suggests a racial reaction…that’s deeply disturbing…normally you wouldn’t talk about her background.”

He called on all White House press corps journalists to support each other in solidarity against such targeting.





Lauren Gambino

Joe Biden announced today that he has raised $60.5millionbetweenmycampaign and theDemocraticNationalCommittee.”

“The average online donation to my campaign was only $32.63,” Biden’s campaign wrote in an email to supporters.





California governor speaks warmly of Elon Musk as he pledges to open Tesla factor in defiance local health orders

Some California officials have been blunt in their response to Musk and his frustrations with public health restrictions delaying the reopening of his electric car factory. “F*ck Elon Musk,” one state politician tweeted.

But California governor Gavin Newsom spoke warmly of both Tesla and Musk at Monday’s briefing, even as the company and Musk himself said he would be opening Tesla’s California factory today in defiance of local health orders.

“I have long been a strong advocate and supporter and an early adopter of the technology,” Newsom said. “I have not only known the company but I have known the founder for many, many years. I have great reverence for their technology, for their innovative spirit, for their leadership and I have great expectations that we can work through at the county level, the issue with this particular county and this company in the next number of days.”

While state regulators have gotten involved in some rural counties where businesses have reopened too early, Newsom said any issue with the Tesla factory’s purported reopening on Monday would be up to Alameda county to deal with.

This is a familiar move for California’s governor, who has previously punted difficult enforcement decisions to local authorities and local law enforcement, including decisions on whether to arrest protesters violating public health orders at large, sometimes chaotic protests.

Newsom also said he was not concerned about Musk’s threats to move operations to another state.

“I have more confidence moving forward in our ability to support a company that this state has substantively supported for now many, many years and in return we have been beneficiaries of their incredible growth, ingenuity and innovative spirit,” he said. “We look forward to many, many decades of that relationship.”





Report: Elon Musk’s factory appears open in defiance of health orders

After suing local California authorities and threatening to move Tesla’s headquarters to Nevada or Texas over coronavirus restrictions, it appears thatElon Musk’s electric car factory was in open and operating on Monday, in defiance of county health orders.

The parking lot of the plant in Fremont, located northeast of San Jose, was almost full, according to the Associated Press. “Tesla has started the process of resuming operations,” according to a statement posted on the company website Saturday, but what exactly that entails was not included.

Musk himself tweeted that “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules.”

“I will be on the line with everyone else,” Musk claimed. “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

Musk’s partner gave birth to their first child exactly a a week ago.

Elon Musk
(@elonmusk)

Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.

May 11, 2020

Last week, Gavin Newsom, California’s governor, modified the statewide stay-at-home order, reopening 70% of the state’s economy and allowing some retailers and manufacturers to operate again under certain guidelines. Given the size and varied needs of the state, however, he gave localities the option to maintain more stringent measures than the state order. San Francisco, for example, will not reopen its retail businesses until 18 May, while much of the state opened 8 May.

Fremont is located in Alameda county, part of the set of Bay Area counties that became the first to enact shelter-in-place orders nationwide. The county has seen 2,101 cases total, and 71 deaths, but Fremont’s close proximity to San Jose means many from Santa Clara county – one of the state epicenters for the virus, and where the first recorded coronavirus death in the nation is believed to be – were likely commuting back and forth for work. In Santa Clara county, there have been 2,339 cases and 129 total deaths.

Updated





Trump abruptly ends press conference after clash with two reporters

Trump ends the briefing suddenly on a very sour note.

Asked by CBS White House Correspondent Weijia Jiang why he is so fixated on comparing the US’ testing capability to other countries as opposed to focusing on the lag that still exists here, Trump snapped: “Maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me, ask China that question, okay?”

Trump then called on CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, who allowed Jiang a moment to follow up.

Jiang, who is Asian-American, replied to Trump: “Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically? Why are you asking me this?”

“I’m saying it to anybody who would ask a nasty question like that,” Trump told her.

“That’s not a nasty question,” Jiang said.

Then, as CNN reporter Collins started speaking, Trump abruptly cut her off with “No, it’s okay” and “next.”

“I just wanted to let my colleague finish,” Collins said. As Collins continued to try to ask her questions, Trump suddenly ended the press conference, saying “Thank you very much” and walked away from the podium.

Aaron Rupar
(@atrupar)

Trump throws a fit when @kaitlancollins of CNN tries to ask him a question and abruptly ends the press conference pic.twitter.com/58AVZ9CABl

May 11, 2020

Updated





Trump spent Mother’s Day sending conspiratorial tweets about his predecessor. In one tweet he accused Obama of committing the “biggest political crime in American history, by far!”

Asked to name the crime he is accusing Obama of committing, Trump replied:“Obamagate. it’s been going on for a long time it’s been going on before I even got elected.”

The reporter followed up: but what is the crime you’re accusing him of?

“You know what the crime is,”Trump says.

Updated





Asked about the death ofAhmaud Arbery, Trump called his murder “heartbreaking.”

“He looks like a wonderful young guy,” Trump said, recalling a photo of Arbery, 25, in a tuxedo.

Arbery was shot and killed by two white men in February. The two white men, father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael, were charged with murder and aggravated assault on Thursday after video of a confrontation involving an unarmed Arbery, who was African American, was made public.

“It’s a very sad thing,” Trump said, adding that he had discussed the situation with South Carolina senator Tim Scott, the chamber’s only black Republican who has forcefully condemned the killing and called for “justice.”

Updated





Tom McCarthy

Trump has just made some fantastic boasts about how well the United States has done on coronavirus testing,writes Guardian reporter Tom McCarthy.

It’s true that the United States has recorded more coronavirus tests than any other country and that the United States appears to be moving ahead in per capita testing. Those are great developments.But unfortunately they do not mean that America’s testing regime is on par with other countries.

For one thing, the United States is a huge country, with a population about seven times that of South Korea. Many more tests need to be conducted here. It’s also telling that the White House says that less than 10% of tests are positive. Does that mean that a smaller proportion of Americans are positive – or that the US is testing the wrong people?

Unlike South Korea, Vietnam, China and other countries that have had success at containing the virus, the United States has not, in most places, stood up consistent contact tracing for positive cases – meaning that the country has a blind spot to outbreaks, and that the selection of patients tested is relatively random.

As for the death rate in the United States versus Germany and other places – unfortunately, unlike Germany and other places, the number of confirmed deaths in the United States, a number the US appears to track less carefully than Germany, is still climbing.

If you go hunting you don’t brag about how many times you shot – you brag about how many ducks you bagged. Trump is bragging about shots fired.And his numbers of tests do not seem to represent numbers of people tested – repeat tests for certain people, such as health care workers and other people on the front lines (and people in positions of power in Washington) make the per capita number in the United States larger than it is in fact. In fact, most people do not have access to testing through the workplace, and quality daily testing is not in reach for most of America.

Finally, unlike other countries, the United States has not paired its testing program with a supported isolation program. That means that outbreaks can accelerate undetected, as health officials mostly are not searching the network of contacts of positive cases, and people in contact with positive cases, who could be asymptomatic carriers,

Updated





For a second time, Trump was asked why the White House staff is able to be tested daily when that is still not available for the American people. He balks at the framing of the question and tells the reporter that it’s a catch-22 and the White House would face criticism if senior officials weren’t frequently tested.

“You know what, if we didn’t get the test …you’d be up complaining why aren’t you getting tests for the White House?” Trump said. “We can’t win.”

Todd Zwillich
(@toddzwillich)

Trump to a woman reporter, who asked about testing: “I understand you very well. Better than you understand yourself.”

May 11, 2020

He then told her:“I understand you very well – better than you understand yourself.”

Updated





Trump is now taking questions.

The first question was about the White House staff who tested positive for Covid-19.

“I don’t think the system broke down at all,” he said. He said the person who tested positive “will be fine” and will be “out of quarantine very soon”.

He says it is “shocking”, given the number of people who come in and out of the White House every day, how few positive cases there have been. He adds:“I’ve felt no vulnerability whatsoever.”

Asked when Americans can get tested every day like his senior staff can, Trump said it would be“very soon.”

“We’re leaving that up to the governors,”Trump said when asked how Americans should feel about going back to work without more testing capacity. He then argues that some governors are going too slow to lift their restrictions.

Trump says it was his decision to require all White House staffers to begin wearing masks.

Updated





Trump on coronavirus: ‘We have met the moment and we have prevailed’

Trump declared victory over what he has called the “invisible enemy” as Covid-19 deaths surpasses 80,000.

“We have met the moment and we have prevailed,”Trump, flanked by ventilators and testing supplies, said during a briefing in the Rose Garden on Monday.He later clarified he was discussing testing.

He boasted that the US’s testing capacity is “unmatched and unrivaled anywhere in the world and it’s not even close.” He said the US has been running 300,000 tests per day but according to the COVID Tracking Project, the US has only administered more than 300,000 tests on four days since it began recording new tests on 28 February.

Daniel Dale
(@ddale8)

Trump and officials are boasting about how much more testing per capita the US has now done as compared to South Korea. The missing context: South Korea was much faster to get tests done, crushing its curve. Yesterday’s *34* reported new cases in SK was the highest in a month.

May 11, 2020

“We’re opening and we’re starting and there’s enthusiasm like I haven’t seen in a long time,” Trump said.

He also went on a little tangent about the wall, which he said is still being built.

Updated





The Guardian’s Vivian Ho sends this dispatch from the Golden State:

The California legislature and their counterparts in other western states have written the federal government asking for $1tn in relief, governor Gavin Newsom said Monday.
The ask comes after Newsom announced that California would have a projected budget shortfall of $54.3bn because of the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic. In California alone, 4.5 million people have filed for unemployment insurance and pandemic unemployment assistance since 12 March, with the state distributing $13.1bn.

“The challenge is enormous and it’s one that’s presented to us not just in the state of California, but is one that will be felt across the United States and all around the world,” Newsom said. “These are challenging times and they require a collaborative spirit.”

California joins the other states in the western pact – Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Colorado – in writing to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, asking for assistance.

Just 90 days ago, California had a projected $6bn budget surplus.





The White House began requiring all staffers entering the West Wing to wear a facial covering fromtoday.

That’s according to two sources familiar with the decision, NBC reports, and aides have been asked to avoid going there “unless you absolutely need to conduct in-person business in the West Wing,” according to a memo sent to staffers.

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control has been that any employees who are exposed to the virus should be wearing a mask in the workplace for 14 days after any contact with a person who tests positive.

White House staffers returned in the morning to a thoroughly cleaned West Wing and new protocols around testing and masks.

Meanwhile the president is not going to wear a mask while in the West Wing/Oval Office and he has avoided wearing a mask completely, while Mike Pence has avoided wearing one almost completely and they have done very little to promote the idea, Trump pouring cold water on it when first announcing that public health experts recommended it, saying he chose not to.

NBC adds that Secret Service members in close proximity to the president have begun wearing masks and visitors were asked additional questions before entering the White House grounds about whether they’d been experiencing any symptoms in addition to temperature checks. Staffers who are in regular, close contact with the president — roughly a dozen people — are also being tested daily.

Updated





The Mooch protests!

Here’s Anthony Scaramucci on Twitter. He was the White House communications director for 10 days in 2017 before being fired and has since become a popular pundit on TV critiquing the Trump administration’s performance.

Anthony Scaramucci
(@Scaramucci)

THIS IS TYRANNY! LIBERATE THE WEST WING! https://t.co/NvHiHH2TId

May 11, 2020





West Wing staff to wear masks at work – though not Trump

The White House has directed staff working in the West Wing, where the daily operations ofDonald Trump’s administration are carried out, towear masks at all timesin the building, except when they are at their own desks, a senior administration official confirmed on Monday,Reutersreports.

ABC News first reported that a new memo directed everyone who enters the wing to cover their faces.

With Trump’s valet and Vice PresidentMike Pence’s press secretary bothtesting positivefor the deadly coronavirus last week, pressure is growing for the White House to take further steps in protecting the health of country’s 73-year-old president.

Trump was reported to be “lava-level” angry last week when White House staffers started testing positive. He has yet to be seen in public wearing a mask.

The president will be exempted from wearing a mask in the White House, the Washington Post reports, per aides.

Updated





Across the country, governors are lifting restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Here’s a round up of some recent action in the states:

Scott Bauer
(@sbauerAP)

.@GovEvers allows all Wisconsin retail stores to reopen, with no more than five customers inside at a time

It is in effect immediately

May 11, 2020

Brianne Pfannenstiel
(@brianneDMR)

NEWS: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will follow a “modified quarantine” after her visit to the White House last week https://t.co/IqDGC2TSfX

May 11, 2020

WBZ NewsRadio
(@wbznewsradio)

The four phases in Governor Baker’s re-opening approach:
1) “Start” (severe restrictions, limited openings)
2) “Cautious” (more industries open)
3) “Vigilant” (more with guidance)
4) “New Normal” (vaccine development/therapies enable this phase) #COVID19

May 11, 2020

Kerri O’Brien
(@Kerri8News)

Developing- @Jackie8News asks when will we know for sure that May 15 is reopen phase one?
Northam: I suspect Wednesday I’ll make a ruling if nothing changes. @8NEWS

May 11, 2020

Andrew Cuomo
(@NYGovCuomo)

Today we enter a new phase in the battle against COVID-19.

We have established criteria for reopening based on 7 metrics: pic.twitter.com/Ar1QzxLUyl

May 11, 2020

Updated

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