US politics: Delaware and New Jersey vote as coronavirus cases approach 3 million

US politics: Delaware and New Jersey vote as coronavirus cases approach 3 million

20:10

Summary

  • The US officially notified the World Health Organization that it would withdraw. The United Nations Foundation said that the Trump administration’s “move to formally withdraw from WHO amid the greatest public health crisis that Americans and the world have faced in a century is shortsighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous”.
  • Trump is pushing for schools to reopen in the fall despite there being no plan of how to do so safely for children, teachers and administrative staff. Trump tweeted: “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!”, as local officials across the country began pausing or scaling back their re-openings due to the surge in infections.
  • Mary Trump, the niece of the president, dissects what she says was Donald Trump’s emotionally abusive childhood, in her new book out next week. In a copy obtained by The Guardian, she writes that neglect from his parents – his mother because of health problems and his father because of being a “high functioning sociopath” fuels Donald Trump’s outrageous behavior now, and threatens “the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top public health official on the coronavirus task force, said on Monday that America’s grasp of the pandemic was “really not good”. In contrast to the president, who continued to insist that the pandemic would die down soon, Fauci said “we are still knee-deep in the first wave” of infections.

19:53

Associated Press: Congress created virus aid, then reaped the benefits

At least a dozen lawmakers were both authors and beneficiaries of one of the biggest government programs in US history, reports the Associated Press.

Government data, released this week after the Trump administration faced pressure from Congress and outside groups, has revealed the names of some loan recipients who benefited from the $659bn Paycheck Protection Program, meant to help smaller businesses keep staff employed during the pandemic.

The list includes names of both Democrats and Republicans and traces money that flowed to hotels, car dealerships, casino companies, fast food franchises and political consultants.

Members of Congress and their families are not barred from receiving loans under the program, but observers say it could undercut public trust in the federal government’s response to the pandemic just as Congress debates another round of coronavirus relief.

“It certainly looks bad and smells bad,” said Aaron Scherb, a spokesperson for the watchdog group Common Cause.

Updated

19:29

Mario Koran here in California, picking up the blog from my colleague Maanvi Singh to close out the day.

Steny Hoyer, majority leader of the US House of Representatives, has weighed in on Trump administration’s move to formally withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization, calling the decision “self-defeating and dangerous”.

“To withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO) at the height of a global pandemic that has already killed more than 133,000 Americans is self-defeating and dangerous”, wrote Hoyer in a statement.

“Not only will this withdrawal hurt global efforts to develop and deploy critical vaccines, but it will also remove our ability to have a say in the operations and future of that organization, yielding much influence to China.”

The statement echoes one made in earlier in the day by Elizabeth Cousens, president of the United Nations Foundation, who said the “move to formally withdraw from WHO amid the greatest public health crisis that Americans and the world have faced in a century is shortsighted, unnecessary, and unequivocally dangerous.”

19:13

In an interview with Greta Van Susteren, Donald Trump insisted that despite what the leading public health official on the coronavirus task force says, the US is in a “good place” in managing the pandemic.

In two, three or four weeks’ time, “I think we’re going to be in very good shape,” Trump said, despite evidence to the contrary, adding that he disagreed with Fauci and touting his travel restrictions, enacted against the advice of health experts.

Jennifer Jacobs
(@JenniferJJacobs)

Trump says he disagrees with Fauci‘s comment that “the current state is really not good” with coronavirus surge.

Will be “in very good shape” in two weeks, Trump told @greta. Maybe four. pic.twitter.com/BXMMu0MsIY

July 7, 2020

Updated

19:02

Five states and the District of Columbia are suing US education secretary Betsy DeVos over a rule she issued that would divert to private schools money that Congress provided to help public schools.

California, Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin, DC, and Michigan have joined a lawsuit over how pandemic relief money is distributed to schools.

“Michigan kids cannot afford for Betsy DeVos to be playing politics with their education,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel of Michigan.

DeVos lashed out at school districts who wouldn’t commit to reopening in the fall despite the surge of cases across the country, deriding leaders who wouldn’t accept the risks of opening schools.

Updated

18:46

Updates from around the world: Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for Covid-19; WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of Covid-19; WHO warns crisis is accelerating:

Updated

18:27

Lawrence Gostin, the director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center on National & Global Health Law, said Trump’s decision to withdraw from the global health agency was “among most ruinous presidential decisions in history”.

He added that the move would counterproductively benefit China, leaving the country to fill the leadership gap left by the US.

Lawrence Gostin
(@LawrenceGostin)

Can there be any winners from @realDonaldTrump unilateral threat to w/draw from @WHO? There is a clear loser, the USA, which will lost global influence, with our citizens less safe & secure. There also may be a winner, China, which could help fill the gap in US loss of leadership

July 7, 2020

18:24

Emily Holden

More than 5,600 companies in the fossil fuel industry have taken a minimum of $3bn in coronavirus aid from the US federal government, according to an analysis by Documented and the Guardian of newly released data.

The businesses include oil and gas drillers and coal mine operators, as well as refiners, pipeline companies and firms that provide services to the industry.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) on Monday released the data under pressure for further transparency, including from journalism outlets that had sued demanding the public records.

The $3bn figure is probably far less than the companies actually received. The SBA did not disclose the specific amounts of loans and instead listed ranges. On the high end, fossil fuel companies could have received up to $6.7bn. At least 475 fossil fuel companies received at least $2m, according to the data the SBA released that it collected from banks.

This analysis only includes loans over $150,000, because the SBA did not disclose which companies received smaller loans.

18:13

Julian Borger

The administration has already begun looking for other channels to spend the $450m it pays annually in WHO membership dues and voluntary contributions. It is unclear what will happen to US officials who work with the global health body.

Jeff Merkley, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations subcommittee that oversees multilateral institutions, called the move “a huge win for China and a huge blow to the American people”.

“By pulling out of the WHO, President Trump is strengthening Chinese leadership and power, both within the WHO and more broadly within the international community,” Merkley said. “Cutting the United States out of the WHO in the middle of the worst global pandemic in a century makes Americans more vulnerable. By abandoning the efforts to control the virus abroad, we’re ensuring that far more Americans will get sick, either through foreign travelers coming to the US, or through Americans traveling abroad.”

Republican members of Congress have also urged Trump to keep the US inside the WHO to support reform. The administration has received almost no support for withdrawal from US allies, with the exception of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who confirmed he had tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday.

Updated

18:12

Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic challenger for the presidency, said he would return the US to the WHO once elected.

Joe Biden
(@JoeBiden)

Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. On my first day as President, I will rejoin the @WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage. https://t.co/8uazVIgPZB

July 7, 2020

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