McConnell avoids White House, citing laxity on masks, COVID-19 precautions

The Daily Beast

Putin Is Facing the Toughest Fight of His Presidency as Former USSR Goes up in Flames

Yesterday, October 7, was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 68th birthday, and, in keeping with his Soviet-style personality cult, it would normally have been an occasion for Putin to bask in public fanfare. But this year was different. Putin is holed up at his residence outside Moscow, where he has been since early April, avoiding infection from the coronavirus that is again rampant in Russia, while unrest surges in three countries of the former Soviet Union, and France and Germany are pushing for new EU economic sanctions against Russia because of the poisoning of Russian democrat Alexei Navalny.In honor of Putin’s birthday, the Russian news agency Tass released the final episode of a series entitled 20 Questions with Vladimir Putin, a special interview project to commemorate Putin’s twenty years as leader. In this episode Putin does not discuss pressing economic issues or international affairs, but rather his hobbies, family and other personal matters. Significantly, while Putin mentions that he enjoys his “sweet” grandchildren, he also confesses to his interviewer that “when you occupy this position, sometimes it feels like you cease to be a human being and become nothing more than a mere function.”Funeral for Reporter Who Set Herself on Fire Reawakens Russia’s Passion to Stand up to PutinNo wonder Putin has begun feeling like an automaton. Bad things have been happening to Putin in battalions lately. On July 9, just as the number of coronavirus cases in Russia had begun to decline and the virus seemed under control, mass protests erupted in the Siberian district of Khabarovsk over the arrest on unsubstantiated murder charges of the popular governor, Sergei Furgal.The unrest in Khabarovsk, a cause for deep concern in the Kremlin, was soon overshadowed by events in Belarus, where the largest political rally in over a decade took place in Minsk on July 30 in support of the opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Opposition protests, accompanied by mass arrests, plunged Belarus into turmoil after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, reported a landslide victory in the August 9 presidential elections. Despite a severe crackdown, the protests have continued. On October 4, 100,000 people marched in Minsk demanding Lukashenko’s resignation.The events in Belarus, a neighboring country that serves as Russia’s strategic buffer to NATO states, pose a huge dilemma for Putin. The overthrow of an authoritarian leader like Lukashenko by a grassroots democratic movement would set a dangerous example that Russians might at some point follow. But if the Kremlin sends paramilitary forces into Belarus to support Lukashenko, as Putin suggested last month might be done, such a move could result in more Western sanctions against Russia, which would further damage Russia’s faltering economy.Adding to the Kremlin’s troubles, a violent conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27 over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies in Azerbaijan, but is controlled by ethnic Christian Armenians who are backed

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White House releases new coronavirus precautions for residence staff amid President Trump’s diagnosis

The White House on Tuesday released updated safety precautions for staff at the executive residence after President Trump’s announcement last week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marty Makary grades the president's recovery on 'Bill Hemmer Reports'

Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marty Makary grades the president’s recovery on ‘Bill Hemmer Reports’

In a press release, the White House said it has hired independent health consultants who are available to check on staff and their families, while “facilitating ancillary testing as needed.”

The White House also said it has hired a “well-being” consultant for staff members to speak to regarding mental health concerns.”

“The health and safety of the residence staff is of the utmost importance to the First Family,” the White House said.

Staff are wearing personal protective equipment, and are taking all necessary precautions, including updated procedures to protect against cross-contamination.


President Trump announced early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump were in quarantine at the White House after each tested positive for the coronavirus. The couple had undergone testing after learning that senior White House adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive for the virus. Hicks had recently accompanied the president on several trips, including Cleveland for the first debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

After being treated for three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, President Trump returned to the White House Monday night. He tweeted Tuesday morning that he is planning to attend next week’s debate with Biden in Miami.

The president’s diagnosis has fueled speculation over the White House’s policy with keeping its staff safe during the pandemic.

The White House maintains that since March, it has adopted hospital-grade disinfection policies, had medical teams lead coronavirus workshops, significantly reduced staff, and encourage maximum teleworking.


In March, the White House provided sanitization and filtration systems to every employee for use in their homes to protect them and their family members. And since April, all staff members have been required to wear masks at all times, the White House said.

White House releases new coronavirus precautions for residence staff amid President Trump’s diagnosis



The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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White House signals stronger coronavirus precautions, but Trump continues to resist

At least nine White House employees have now tested positive for the virus, including senior adviser Stephen Miller, who got his result late Tuesday, a senior administration official said. Trump’s aides, allies and advisers find themselves grappling with how to implement more safety measures and precautions without displeasing their boss, who continues to say — as he did in a tweet Monday — “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

In a video he recorded maskless from the White House south balcony Monday night, the president also falsely claimed that perhaps he was “immune” to the virus, said he felt “better than 20 years ago” and urged the public to “get out there.”

The result is a bifurcated culture in Trump’s White House and broader orbit, with informal and halting steps toward more rigorous health measures often undermined or upended by the president.

His team, for instance, tried to puzzle out if there was a way for him to safely return to the Oval Office on Tuesday but ultimately nixed the request, said two people familiar with the discussions, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations.

“The White House really isn’t doing anything you’re supposed to be doing in these situations,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist on the faculty of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Rasmussen added that while she agreed with Trump’s call not succumb to fear, “we also shouldn’t not take the virus seriously just because President Trump says he feels better and is flying around on Marine One and standing on the balcony like Evita.”

On Monday, the White House Management Office sent out an email to senior staff who routinely interact with Trump, aimed at protecting both the president and his advisers. The memo, obtained by The Washington Post, urges staffers to “limit all foot traffic on the first floor of the West Wing as well as in the Residence” and says that “staff should only go to the Oval Office or the second floor Residence when they are requested and expected.”

For staffers who do visit the Oval Office or the second floor of the residence, where Trump lives and holds meetings, and who expect to be within six feet of the president, the memo also requires that they wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before entering; remove any outer garments; and don personal protective equipment provided in an “Isolation Cart” — including a yellow gown, surgical mask, protective eyewear and gloves.

The White House has not changed its mask guidance and is still following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that recommend, but do not require, wearing a mask. Several administration officials said nearly everyone in the White House has been wearing a mask in recent days, including Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who usually does not sport one.

Rapid coronavirus testing is still required for anyone in proximity to Trump, and the White House is also offering testing

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White House Defends Trump’s Drive-By Greeting: ‘Appropriate Precautions Were Taken’

The Daily Beast

Photos Show Why Miami Public Schools Could Be the Next Ron DeSantis Coronavirus Debacle

MIAMI—Last week, a few days before Donald Trump revealed he came down with COVID-19, Karla Hernandez-Mats went on a coronavirus safety fact-finding mission in South Florida schools ahead of their reopening on Monday.The president of United Teachers of Dade, the local teachers union, Hernandez-Mats said she and her colleagues conducted surprise inspection visits at 17 Miami-area schools that suggested administrators were still scrambling to put safety measures in place.At Miami Springs Senior High, one of the 17 schools inspected, administrators initially refused to allow her colleague, United Teachers of Dade First Vice-President Antonio White, to enter the building and called a police resource officer on him, the union officials told The Daily Beast.“When administrators act like that, their schools are usually not prepared,” White said in an interview. “That was the case at Miami Springs.”COVID-Skeptical Florida Guv Outdoes Himself, Lifts All Restrictions on Restaurants and BarsFor instance, the school appears to be supplying teachers with alcohol-free hand sanitizer, which may be ineffective in killing coronavirus, the union officials said, providing The Daily Beast with a photo of just that. (The Centers for Disease Control’s COVID-19 guidance recommends people use hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent ethanol-based or 70 percent isopropanol-based.) Union officials also provided photos showing decals marking 6-foot distance requirements that were already peeling off the sidewalks near the school’s entrance, and desks arranged in such a way that does not allow for 6-foot social distancing.Reached by phone, Miami Springs principal Torossian said he was unaware of police being called on the union official and referred further questions to the school district’s media relations department. Spokeswoman Jacquelyn Calzadilla did not specifically address what had occurred at Miami Springs, but she said “our school site administrators are working around the clock to ensure a safe return to the schoolhouse for our students and employees.”The flap illustrates the daunting task facing the public school system in Miami-Dade County, which has been the epicenter of Florida’s COVID-19 outbreak for most of the pandemic. More than 10,000 teachers and 133,000 students begin filing into 340 schools this week on a staggered schedule. This after the Miami-Dade School Board voted to resume in-person learning under pressure from Florida Education Commissioner Richard Cocoran, a Gov. Ron DeSantis appointee who threatened to cut the school district’s funding if classes did not resume by early October.Miami-Dade’s daily positivity rate rolling average for the 14 days ending on Oct. 4 stood at 4.78 percent, just below the 5 percent positivity rate that the World Health Organization recommends maintaining for two weeks before lifting shelter-at-home and social distancing protocols. During the same 14-day period, Miami-Dade reported 5,456 new cases, bringing its total to 172,205.School reopenings have been a mess of infection, quarantine, and closure across America in recent weeks. But conversations with teachers, labor leaders, and experts in South Florida painted a picture of Miami schools as a new guinea

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White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters

The White House on Sunday night insisted that proper precautions were taken ahead of President TrumpDonald John TrumpJaime Harrison debates Graham behind plexiglass shield Doctors, White House staff offer conflicting messages on president’s health Trump given second dose of Remdesivir ‘without complication’, ‘not yet out of the woods’, Conley says MORE‘s motorcade visit outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he is being treated for COVID-19.

“Appropriate precautions were taken in the execution of this movement to protect the President and all those supporting it, including PPE. The movement was cleared by the medical team as safe to do,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told reporters. 

He declined to say whether the president requested the motorcade, if the president met with anyone in-person on Sunday and why the press pool was not notified.

Trump waved at his supporters who were gathered outside the hospital during a “surprise” visit despite undergoing treatment for the coronavirus.

Trump was seen wearing a face mask, and Secret Service agents in the vehicle with him also appeared to be wearing personal protective equipment including medical-grade masks and gowns. 

Still, the appearance on Sunday drew criticism as many pointed out it broke with state guidance on the pandemic, and health experts said the appearance likely put Secret Service officials at risk.

Trump has been recovering from the virus at Walter Reed since Friday. His doctors said on Sunday that the president could be released as soon as Monday.

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