U.S. labour secretary’s wife, who was at Rose Garden event, tests positive for coronavirus

The U.S. Labour Department announced in a news release Tuesday night that Secretary Eugene Scalia’s wife, Trish, has tested positive for coronavirus. The announcement said that Eugene Scalia has tested negative so far but will work from home “for the time being.”

Both Eugene and Trish Scalia attended the Rose Garden event where President Donald Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett was his pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. They were seated in the second row, directly behind first lady Melania Trump and next to former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway — both of whom would later test positive for Covid-19.

“This afternoon, doctors confirmed that U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia’s wife, Trish, tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Mrs. Scalia is experiencing mild symptoms but doing well,” the release stated.

“This evening, Secretary Scalia received a test and the results were negative; he has experienced no symptoms. The Secretary and Mrs. Scalia will follow the advice of health professionals for Trish’s recovery and the health of those around them. For the time being, the Secretary will work from home while continuing to carry out the mission of the Department and the President’s agenda.”

It’s not clear if Trish Scalia contracted the coronavirus at the Rose Garden event. Her positive test comes more than two weeks after the event, but it’s unknown when she was last tested. The virus’ incubation period can be as long as 14 days.

At least 12 people — including Trump, the first lady and Conway — have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the event on September 26. Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — who sat three seats apart in the second row during the outdoor ceremony, separated by other senators — both later tested positive, as did former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The president of the University of Notre Dame, where Barrett teaches, was also diagnosed with coronavirus after he sat three seats away from Conway and right behind the nominee’s young children at the event.

While part of the day’s events were held in the Rose Garden, there were also smaller, private gatherings inside the White House that did not include the mask-wearing or social distancing that public health experts have advised is essential to stopping the spread of the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert,  called the Rose Garden ceremony a “superspreader” event last week. Noting that many people at the event were not social distancing or wearing masks, “the data speak for themselves,” he said.

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McConnell sets Senate vote on coronavirus aid, Pelosi spurns White House bid

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday the Republican-led U.S. Senate would vote next week on a targeted, $500 billion coronavirus economic aid bill of the type Democrats already have rejected as they hold out for trillions in relief.

With negotiations on a broader package stalled and Election Day approaching, both Republicans and Democrats faced pressure to take action to help Americans weather a pandemic that has killed more than 214,000 people and damaged the U.S. economy.

Congress passed $3 trillion in coronavirus aid, including help for the unemployed, in the spring.

Both sides say more aid is needed now, but appear to remain far apart. With leaders of the Democratic-run House and Republican Senate still sparring, a bipartisan deal on coronavirus relief remains unlikely before Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections.

President Donald Trump, a Republican who called off coronavirus relief talks last week only to restart them days later, pushed lawmakers again on Tuesday to “Go big or go home!!!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a swipe on Tuesday at Trump’s about-face. “Following his tweet, the stock market went down and so did he in the polls,” Pelosi said of Trump’s assertion last week that there would be no aid package before the election.

In recent days, Pelosi has refused a White House offer for a $1.8 trillion coronavirus aid package even though it moved closer to her $2.2 trillion proposal – and despite mounting pressure from some members of her own Democratic caucus who would like to see a compromise.

Pelosi angrily defended her stance Tuesday when a CNN interviewer asked her to respond to a progressive Democrat, Representative Ro Khanna, who had urged her to accept the White House proposal instead of waiting until February next year, when Democrats may also control the Senate and the White House.

“Nobody’s waiting till February. I want this very much now, because people need help now. But it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail,” she told CNN.

McConnell said the full Senate’s first order of business when it returns on Monday would be to vote on a $500 billion relief bill. It would include more money for the Paycheck Protection Program, which has helped small businesses pay employees during the pandemic.

McConnell said the bill would include help for schools and liability protections for businesses, which Republicans sought. McConnell also said there would be more unemployment benefits and assistance for hospitals in the bill.

“I want to give our friends on the other side one more chance to do highly targeted relief that the country desperately needs,” McConnell said in Barbourville, Kentucky.

But Senate Democrats blocked a similar proposal last month. Democrats have repeatedly rejected targeted aid proposals, preferring to do comprehensive bills that also include large sums of money for state and local governments whose budgets have been slammed by the pandemic.

Pelosi,

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Proposal to hasten herd immunity to the coronavirus grabs White House attention but appalls top scientists

When asked for comment, HHS referred a reporter to Azar’s subsequent Twitter statement about the meeting: “We heard strong reinforcement of the Trump Administration’s strategy of aggressively protecting the vulnerable while opening schools and the workplace.”

A senior administration official told reporters in a background briefing call Monday that the proposed strategy — which has been denounced by other infectious-disease experts and has been called “fringe” and “dangerous” by National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins — supports what has been Trump’s policy for months.

“We’re not endorsing a plan. The plan is endorsing what the president’s policy has been for months. The president’s policy — protect the vulnerable, prevent hospital overcrowding, and open schools and businesses — and he’s been very clear on that,” the official said.

“Everybody knows that 200,000 people died. That’s extremely serious and tragic. But on the other hand, I don’t think society has to be paralyzed, and we know the harms of confining people to their homes,” the official added.

Trump has long chafed at the economic damage from shutdowns imposed to control the pandemic, and has repeatedly pushed states to reopen, at one point threatening to withhold federal funding from states that did not open schools. After he contracted the virus and developed symptoms of covid-19 serious enough to require hospitalization, Trump still urged the public, “Don’t be afraid of Covid.”

In pushing his agenda, Trump has steadily drifted away from the counsel of his own government’s top doctors, such as White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Into that void has stepped Atlas, who has relied on the maverick scientists to bolster his in-house arguments. At a recent White House news briefing, he cited them by name.

The three scientists pushing the strategy, which they call Focused Protection, have distinguished academic appointments. Martin Kulldorff is an epidemiologist at Harvard University. Sunetra Gupta is an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford. Jay Bhattacharya is a physician and epidemiologist at Stanford Medical School.

They have codified their argument in the form of a document posted online that called itself the Great Barrington Declaration, named after the town in Massachusetts where it was unveiled on Oct. 4 in a ceremony at a libertarian think tank.

The authors argue that their approach would decrease the undesirable public health effects of restrictions and closures, which disproportionately affect lower-income people. The declaration does not mention wearing masks, engaging in social distancing, avoiding crowds and indoor environments, or any of the other recommendations pushed by most government and scientific experts.

The authors contend that permitting the virus to spread naturally among young people — who are much less likely than their elders to have a severe outcome — will shorten the pandemic by hastening the arrival of herd immunity, the point at which there’s enough immunity in the general population to prevent the virus from spreading at epidemic rates.

“The most compassionate approach that

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Labor secretary’s wife, who was at Rose Garden event, tests positive for coronavirus



a crowd of people at a park: U.S. President Donald Trump announces 7th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett (R) as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House September 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.


© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump announces 7th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett (R) as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House September 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.

The Labor Department announced in a news release Tuesday night that Secretary Eugene Scalia’s wife, Trish, has tested positive for coronavirus. The announcement said that Eugene Scalia has tested negative so far but will work from home “for the time being.”

Both Eugene and Trish Scalia attended the Rose Garden event where President Donald Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett was his pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. They were seated in the second row, directly behind first lady Melania Trump and next to former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway — both of whom would later test positive for Covid-19.

“This afternoon, doctors confirmed that U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia’s wife, Trish, tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Mrs. Scalia is experiencing mild symptoms but doing well,” the release stated.

“This evening, Secretary Scalia received a test and the results were negative; he has experienced no symptoms. The Secretary and Mrs. Scalia will follow the advice of health professionals for Trish’s recovery and the health of those around them. For the time being, the Secretary will work from home while continuing to carry out the mission of the Department and the President’s agenda.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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‘Totally Under Control’ review: New Alex Gibney documentary offers an incisive and infuriating critique of the Trump administration’s inept coronavirus response.

And now, he brings us “Totally Under Control,” an incisive, lucid and infuriating critique of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that Gibney co-directed with Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger. In the old days of film stock and editing room, we’d say that this timely narrative has arrived “dripping wet.” Indeed, this is such an up-to-the-minute account that the filmmakers were able to add a dismally ironic postscript that, just a day after completing the movie, President Trump himself would be diagnosed with covid-19.

Obeying the meticulous, metronomic rhythms of a classic procedural, “Totally Under Control” takes viewers back to what seems like another age, when a mysterious flu in Wuhan, China, was ravaging that community. Starting with the first known case in Washington state, the pandemic arrives on U.S. shores, and the misjudgments, missed opportunities and scrambled responses begin. Tests are hurriedly prepared but prove faulty, and an easy fix is inexplicably overlooked; the federal government pits states against each other in an obscene bidding war for badly-needed supplies; American citizens are given confusing and contradictory messages about the severity of the disease and the most appropriate ways to fight it; tough lessons learned by the previous administration, which battled its own outbreaks, are abandoned in favor of an ad hoc, often incoherent, reinvention of myriad wheels.

Meanwhile, the fatalities pile up. In addition to creating a concise, tonally understated compendium of damning facts and figures, “Totally Under Control” provides a useful comparison with South Korea, which the filmmakers present in side-by-side scenes: In the United States, people come to blows over whether to wear masks while in Seoul, a rapid-response testing and tracing program keeps outbreaks to a minimum and a complete economic shutdown at bay.

To anyone who has followed the news of the pandemic, “Totally Under Control” doesn’t break much news — although one of its most piquant moments features a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy providing a firsthand description of the shambolic, all-volunteer supply-chain effort overseen by Jared Kushner to procure personal protection equipment. Rick Bright, who recently resigned his post as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, is particularly convincing as the kind of apolitical technocrat that the Trump administration seems singularly threatened by. Taison Bell, a physician at the University of Virginia, delivers moving testimony, not just regarding the devastating effects of covid-19, but its disproportionate effect on communities of color.

Gibney and his team were intent on releasing “Totally Under Control” before the election, although it’s difficult to discern whether it will tip any scales (although it will be hard for Forever Trumpers to ignore mask manufacturer Michael Bowen, whose pleas to the president for whom he voted to ramp up production go unheeded). Matters of objective science and empirical observation have now become so mired in partisanship, authoritarian narrative and conspiracy blather that even a film this judicious and straightforwardly informative feels doomed to reach no further than its own self-selected constituency. Should open-minded viewers decide

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McConnell plans coronavirus aid vote as Pelosi says White House stimulus plan falls short

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans a vote on limited coronavirus stimulus legislation based around the Paycheck Protection Program this month.
  • Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted that lawmakers should “go big or go home” ahead of the 2020 election.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is negotiating a potential stimulus deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said the latest White House proposal “falls significantly short” of what is need to address the crisis.

Senate will take up Covid-19 small business relief when it returns, says Mitch McConnell

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The Senate will vote on a limited coronavirus stimulus bill this month, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, as lawmakers stumble in their push to send aid to Americans before the 2020 election.

In a statement, the Kentucky Republican said the Senate would take up aid legislation after the full chamber returns on Monday. McConnell called the plan “targeted relief for American workers, including new funding” for Paycheck Protection Program small business loans. Speaking at an event in his home state, he said the bill would also include money for schools, an unemployment insurance boost and liability protections for businesses.

McConnell said in his statement that the Senate would have enough time to both pass the relief proposal and confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett “unless Democrats block this aid for workers.” Democrats have in recent days targeted Republicans for moving forward with Barrett’s nomination while millions of Americans left jobless by the virus outbreak await federal assistance.

Democrats, who blocked a roughly $500 billion Republican plan in the Senate last month, could dismiss the latest GOP proposal as inadequate. A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to a request to comment on whether Democrats would support the new Republican bill.

McConnell announced plans for a vote as hopes for new spending to boost the health-care system and economy dim. Democrats and the Trump administration have failed to strike a relief deal as the U.S. creeps closer to Election Day on Nov. 3. Meanwhile, the White House and Senate Republicans appear more out of sync than ever on what the federal response will require.

“STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday shortly after McConnell detailed plans to vote on narrow legislation.

Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a roughly $1.8 trillion plan — about $400 billion less than the bill House Democrats passed earlier this month. Pelosi has dismissed the proposal, and on Tuesday suggested Trump “only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the [stock] market to go up.”

“Over 215,000 Americans have died, nearly 7.8 million have been infected and millions more are still without jobs or income security and therefore struggling to make rent and put food on the table,” she wrote to House Democrats. “Tragically, the Trump proposal falls significantly short of what this pandemic and deep recession demand.”

Pelosi for

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Trump comes back negative for coronavirus on antigen test, White House doc says

President Trump tested negative for the coronavirus on consecutive days, his doctor said Monday as the president flew to Florida for a rally.

Dr. Sean P. Conley said Mr. Trump tested negative using an Abbott BinaxNow antigen card, the type of test the administration is sending to nursing homes and governors across the country.

Dr. Conley said the tests, combined with lab data such as the president’s viral load and culture data, suggest the virus is not replicating in the president’s system.

“This comprehensive data, in concert with the CDC’s guidelines for removal of transmission-based precautions, have informed our medical team’s assessment that the president is not infectious to others,” Dr. Conley wrote.

The doctor on Saturday said he believed that Mr. Trump was no longer infectious after testing positive for the virus Oct. 1 and spending three days at the hospital.

The president lined up a busy campaign schedule, starting with Monday’s rally in Sanford, Florida, and events in Pennsylvania and Iowa over the next two days.

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Trump Tests Negative for Coronavirus, White House Doctor Says

President Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus “on consecutive days,” according to White House physician Dr. Sean Conley.

In a memo to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany posted on Twitter Monday evening, shortly before Trump’s first scheduled campaign rally since receiving a positive diagnosis, Conley said the president is “not infectious to others.”

“In response to your inquiry regarding the President’s most recent COVID-19 tests, I can share with you that he has tested NEGATIVE, on consecutive days, using the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen card,” Conley wrote. “It is important to note that this test was not used in isolation for the determination of the President’s current negative status.”

He continued: “Repeatedly negative antigen tests, taken in context with additional clinical and laboratory data, including viral load, subgeneric RNA, and PCR style threshold measurements, as well as an ongoing assessment of viral culture data, all indicate a lack of detectable viral replication.”

“This comprehensive data, in concert with the CDC’s guidelines for removal of transmission-based precautions, have informed our medical team’s assessment that the President is not infectious to others,” Conley said.

On Saturday, Conley said in a memo that Trump was no longer contagious, but had not clarified whether or not the president had tested negative for the coronavirus.

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White House, Democrats Both Support Coronavirus Stimulus Checks, Kudlow Expects Republicans To Fall In Line

KEY POINTS

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said stimulus talks appear to be at a standstill
  • Larry Kudlow says talks are not dead 
  • Kudlow insisted the U.S. is in a V-shaped recovery but certain sectors still need help

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says he expects Republicans to fall in line if the White House reaches agreement with Democrats on the next round of coronavirus stimulus relief.

Negotiations appeared at a standstill after President Donald Trump agreed to boost the size of the package to $1.8 trillion – a move rejected by Democrats who called it inadequate and Republicans who said it was too expensive.

Kudlow told CNN’s “State of the Union” he talked with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Saturday night and is convinced stimulus talks are not dead, noting Senate Republicans unanimously passed their own version of coronavirus relief – albeit a modest $500 billion measure – and “they will go along with it” once a deal is struck between Democrats and the White House.

House Democrats earlier passed a $2.2 trillion package, a slimmed down version of the more than $3 trillion measure they approved in May.

“We’re asking for targeted assistance,” said Kudlow, ticking off a list: enhanced unemployment benefits, aid to small businesses and direct stimulus checks to individuals.

“Those are things everybody absolutely wants,” Kudlow said.

Among the sticking points is the size of enhanced unemployment benefits. Democrats wants Americans who lost their jobs due to the pandemic to receive an extra $600 a week – the same amount that was approved as part of the CARES Act in March – while the White House has supported $400 a week.

Democrats also want funds for cash-strapped state and local governments, which bore the brunt of coronavirus costs, help for schools for COVID-19 testing and cleaning, and funds for the postal service to ensure smooth operations through the election.

“I don’t understand the intransigence from my Democratic friends,” Kudlow said, insisting the U.S. is in the midst of a V-shaped recovery from the coronavirus-induced recession.

In a note to her caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday President Donald Trump still is not taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, offering just $45 billion in new money for meeting health needs, “about 60% of what is needed, according to medical experts. More importantly, it is not spent strategically.”

She also noted there still is no national plan for testing, tracing and treatment.

“It is hard to understand who is shaping their approach, which to date has been a miserable and deadly failure,” Pelosi said.

“Until these serious issues are resolved, we remain at an impasse.”

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D.C. reports increased demand for coronavirus tests amid White House outbreak

A testing site outside the White House on Friday urged anyone who had worked or visited to get tested. That site conducted only 80 tests, far below the hundreds processed at other locations, said Susana Castillo, a Bowser spokeswoman.

The city will not operate a testing site near the White House this week.

The increase in testing demand comes as D.C. is seeing a rise in infections this month. The city was reporting a rolling seven-day average of 5.3 cases per 100,000 residents on Oct. 1 — a number that had risen to 9.5 as of Saturday.

City officials offered no explanation for the increasing caseload, and it’s unclear whether the rise is connected to the White House outbreak. Only D.C. residents appear in the city’s count, and many federal officials declare residency elsewhere.

The rise in testing might also be catching more coronavirus cases. The rate of people testing positive has ticked up from 1.6 percent on Sept. 28 to 1.9 percent as of Thursday.

The greater Washington region reported 1,396 additional coronavirus cases and seven new deaths Monday. Virginia added 854 cases and three deaths, Maryland added 504 cases and four deaths, and D.C. added 38 cases and no deaths.

While the number of fatalities reported Monday was well below the region’s seven-day average of 19 deaths, it lifted the total number of deaths in D.C., Maryland and Virginia since the start of the pandemic to more than 8,000.

The rolling seven-day average of new daily infections across the region Monday stood at 1,651 cases — the highest since Sept. 18.

While caseloads have ticked upward, D.C. on Tuesday will begin to reopen a slate of gyms and indoor swimming pools at city-owned recreation centers. Residents must book 45-minute appointments up to seven days in advance to ensure social distancing.

Pools are available for reservation at six locations and fitness centers at 13 locations.

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