The crucial COVID question no one in the White House will answer

This repeated refusal by Trump, his doctors, and top aides raises questions about when the president first became contagious, and his judgment in traveling around the country after at least one top staffer began showing symptoms. A bevy of Trump’s top aides have since fallen ill, and several of the nation’s top military leaders are in quarantine after interacting with a Coast Guard admiral who tested positive after attending the Gold Star event.

Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, his physician Sean Conley, and other aides and campaign officials have all refused to answer the question. Their explanations range from wanting to protect Trump’s privacy to not being in the loop on the president’s testing timeline. Sometimes, they urge reporters to focus on the future, not the past.

But the question is relevant to the immediate future, public health experts say, because it could guide the contact tracing effort that has belatedly begun at the White House. An official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention embedded in the White House Medical Unit is contact tracing to ensure those who had direct contact with the many White House COVID-19 cases isolate and are tested, so they don’t continue to spread the disease.

“The more precision that we can have in terms of the last day he was negative…the more precise contact tracing efforts can be,” said Dr. Howard Koh, a former top official at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration. “Having precision on that whole process is very important, and we don’t have that now.”

The question also has political importance given the White House’s COVID-19 outbreak has drawn blistering criticism of Trump’s approach to handling the disease both in his own home and as president. Even some Republicans are criticizing the president for holding events — some indoors — without social distancing or masks. This week, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell suggested he’s avoided going to the White House since August because officials there appeared to have a lax approach to COVID-19.

“My impression was their approach to how to handle this was different from mine,” McConnell told reporters.

If it turns out Trump had not been tested for coronavirus in the days before he received a positive result, it would reinforce the concern he carelessly exposed his own donors in New Jersey and others, even as those around him, including top staffer Hope Hicks, were falling ill.

“It is a very important question for our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, told reporters Thursday. “Let us see a date, a time, when you last tested negative before you admitted to this virus.”

On Friday, White House aide Brian Morgenstern would not even confirm in an interview with MSNBC whether Trump had received a negative test result within 72 hours of the Sept. 29 debate against Joe Biden, as the Cleveland Clinic required of both candidates.

“You are very focused on looking backwards,” Morgenstern replied. He said the last negative test result

Read more

White House says there’s no need to clarify Trump’s response to white supremacists debate question

President Trump’s team doesn’t think he did anything wrong at Tuesday’s night’s debate, especially when it came to denouncing white supremacists.

Trump’s refusal to denounce far-right extremists led even Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade to declare the president blew “the biggest layup in the history of debates” and ask Trump to “clear it up.” But when Fox News tried to do just that with White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah on Wednesday morning, Farah said “I don’t think that there’s anything to clarify. He told them to stand back.”

Trump campaign press secretary Hogan Gidley also didn’t think there was anything wrong with Trump telling the far-right Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” “He wants them to get out of the way,” Gidley said.

But Proud Boy members didn’t take it that way. As NBC News reports, the group’s chat rooms and social media accounts lit up with praise for Trump after his refusal to denounce them, and some even turned Trump’s words into a meme and rallying cry, calling Trump the “general of the Proud Boys.”

More stories from
The worst presidential debate of all time
Undecided voters describe Trump as a ‘crackhead,’ ‘arrogant’ in post-debate focus group
Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for debate, said he was ‘too hot’

Source Article

Read more

PMC garden department against re-opening public gardens as residents question decision – pune news

Despite a growing demand to re-open the public gardens across the city, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is firm on keeping it shut as a preventive measure in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

PMC garden department head Ashok Ghorpade said, “Mainly senior citizens and children visit gardens. Both are vulnerable age groups in the current Covid-19 situation. Two months ago, the PMC opened 13 gardens for exercise, but the experience was bad. Considering the present situation, it is not possible to open public gardens.”

According to Ghorpade, the state government’s government resolution (GR) is very clear and it has banned the opening of the public gardens.

“No other municipal corporation in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, has opened public gardens yet,” Ghorpade said.

“If gardens reopen, it could become hotspots as people will begin using the benches, play with toys and also use the exercise equipment in open gyms.

Activities like yoga and laughing clubs are carried out in gardens, where social distance is not followed,” he added.

The PMC opened 13 gardens on a pilot basis in Pune for exercise purposes in June. Residents began using open gym equipment, visiting gardens without masks and did not maintain social distance.

Against this background, there is no preparedness by the garden department to reopen the gardens.

Ravindra Joshi, a resident of Sahakanagar said, “Hundreds of people are visiting Taljai hill and other areas. If citizens are allowed to exercise on the hills, what is the problem in opening the public gardens?”

Another citizen, Ratnamala Shah said, “Due to the Covid situation, citizens are sitting at home and are bored. If they would go in the open air and do some exercise it would help. It is true that citizens did not follow the rules, but garden employees can warn them to use masks all the time while they are present in the garden. In any case, citizens are walking on busy roads, instead, they would use the garden.”

Avinash Kute, a resident said, “I used to go to the garden every morning. Now I am missing it. As everything is opening up, the garden should also open for the public but it should be strictly kept open for exercise and walking purposes.”

Source Article

Read more

White House economists question if another relief package is needed before election

Some White House economists are questioning whether another coronavirus spending package is needed because its positive effects wouldn’t be felt until after the election, according to people familiar with the matter.

Alex Azar, Anthony S. Fauci, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Jerome Adams posing for the camera

© Provided by Washington Examiner

“There’s a new consensus among the economists at the White House that there’s no sense in more coronavirus aid right now,” said Stephen Moore, an outside economic adviser to President Trump.

“It’s too late for that. The money appropriated won’t be felt until after the election. It’s too late to flood the zone with cash to make any difference now,” said Moore, who met with multiple senior White House economists on Monday.

Publicly, the Trump administration and lawmakers of both parties favor enacting more relief. But Congress has struggled to pass legislation. The parties are at odds over the cost of the bill. Republicans are seeking $1 trillion, while Democrats are asking for at least twice that amount.

Some in the White House have shifted because of the economic growth since the $1.7 trillion CARES Act relief package expired at the end of July.

“We went down the line, and all the White House economists said that the economy is picking up pretty well, it doesn’t need training wheels anymore. It’s doing just fine on its own,” said Moore, who is also a contributor to the Washington Examiner.

Multiple former senior administration officials also said that White House economists are increasingly doubtful about whether another package is needed.

“The recent data has been quite good, with aggregate consumer spending up and retail sales very positive. The White House sees that a lack of recovery doesn’t seem to be a problem right now,” said Casey Mulligan, former chief economist for Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers and an economics professor at the University of Chicago.

Mulligan said the narrative among economists at the White House has flipped, in private, over the past few weeks due to Trump’s recent executive orders and the economic growth that is occurring without further government aid. In August, Trump used a series of executive actions to suspend payroll taxes, extend unemployment benefits, slow evictions, and defer student loan payments.

Nevertheless, top administration officials are lobbying Congress for more aid, and the official position is that the administration favors relief.

“We would still like to pass needed relief for working families,” said a senior administration official. “The impediment to a deal isn’t the election but the speaker’s insistence on giving a trillion dollars to state and local governments, among other issues.”

Trump’s top economic adviser, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, said that he would like to see another relief package even if many sectors of the economy are coming back strongly.

“I don’t think the V-shape recovery depends on the package, but I do think a targeted package could be a great help,” Kudlow said on CNBC on Tuesday afternoon.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell appeared before the House Financial Services Committee during

Read more

White House press secretary mocks CNN reporter’s basic question about Trump’s healthcare plan and tells her to ‘come work here at the White House’ if she wants information

Sarah Bush holding a sign: Kayleigh McEnany takes a question from CNN's Kaitlan Collins on Wednesday. Screenshot/Fox News

© Screenshot/Fox News
Kayleigh McEnany takes a question from CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Wednesday. Screenshot/Fox News

  • The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, on Wednesday dismissed a CNN reporter’s questions about which administration officials were working on a long-delayed healthcare plan.
  • “I’m not going to give you a readout of what our healthcare plan looks like and who’s working on it,” McEnany told the reporter. “If you want to know, come work here at the White House.”
  • President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday night that his healthcare plan was “all ready” to be revealed, but it’s unclear when that will happen. The US election is 48 days away.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, on Wednesday refused to say which administration officials were working on a healthcare plan that President Donald Trump has long promised to unveil and recently said was “all ready.”


Load Error

During the White House press briefing, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pointed out that three top healthcare officials in the Trump administration had said during testimony before a Senate committee that they were unaware of Trump’s Obamacare replacement plan.

“Today on Capitol Hill, the three top medical experts in this administration said they have no idea of any kind of plan that’s being formulated,” Collins said. “So who is it that is working on the healthcare plan that’s going to be introduced before the election?”

McEnany responded that “a wide array” of White House officials and “multiple stakeholders,” including the Domestic Policy Council, were working on the plan.

Dismissing Collins’ follow-up questions, the press secretary told the reporter she should come work at the White House if she wanted to find out who specifically was involved in the effort to replace the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m not going to give you a readout of what our healthcare plan looks like and who’s working on it,” McEnany said. “If you want to know, come work here at the White House.”

Describing the nonpublic plan as “the president’s vision for the next five years,” McEnany ticked off a vague list of its tenets.

“In aggregate, it’s going to be a very comprehensive strategy, one where we’re saving healthcare while Democrats are trying to take healthcare away, where we’re making healthcare better and cheaper, guaranteeing protections for people with preexisting conditions, stopping surprise medical billing, increasing transparency, defending the right to keep your doctor and your plan, fighting lobbyists and special interests, and making healthier — and finding cures to diseases,” she said.

The president has falsely claimed dozens of times that he has protected Americans with preexisting conditions. In reality, his administration is battling in court to overturn Obamacare, which protects those Americans; overturning the law would strip millions of people of healthcare.

The Republican Party failed to repeal and replace Obamacare — despite promising for years to do so — when it controlled both the Senate and the House in 2017 and 2018.

During a town hall on Tuesday night,

Read more

Russian Interior Ministry Wants To Question Navalny In Germany

Russia’s Interior Ministry wants to question opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in Berlin, where he is being treated after German doctors reported “unequivocal evidence” that he was poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok, contradicting their Russian counterparts who said they had found no trace of poison.

The ministry’s transportation police directorate branch in Siberia said on September 11 that with Navalny coming out of a medically induced coma earlier this week, it is preparing a request that German authorities allow its investigators to take part in questioning the 44-year-old Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner.

A German government spokesman said Berlin had yet to receive an official request from Moscow on the issue.

Navalny fell ill aboard a plane en route from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow in late August and was hospitalized after the plane made an emergency landing in the city of Omsk.

He was then flown to the Charite clinic in Berlin, where German authorities said that “unequivocal evidence” indicated Navalny had been poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent, which the Kremlin has vehemently denied and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called “groundless” on September 11.

Russian human rights defenders, opposition politicians and activists, and Navalny’s relatives and associates, however, say the use of Novichok indicates that the Russian state only could be responsible for the poisoning.

Western politicians have said they also believe the poisoning was likely ordered by authorities in Russia and have urged Moscow to prove its lack of involvement.

The case has prompted international calls for Russia to carry out a transparent investigation or risk sanctions, but the country has not opened a criminal investigation, saying its medics did not find evidence of poison in tests.

In its September 11 statement, the Siberian transport police said they had been conducting “checks” into what happened and published some findings on Navalny’s activities.

According to the statement, Navalny had snacks and drinks at the Xander Hotel, Velvet restaurant, and an apartment where he held meetings with his team members in Tomsk. He also stopped at the Vienna Coffeehouse at the Tomsk airport for a tea before boarding the plane.

The statement also says that five of Navalny’s associates who were accompanying him in Tomsk have been questioned by police, while a sixth associate, Marina Pevchikh, who is a permanent resident of Britain, was not available for questioning.

Police are now working on tracking down other passengers who were aboard the plane, the statement said.

The Kremlin says Berlin has not answered its request to see the medical data that led to the declaration that Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok.

However, doctors in Omsk said earlier that they had used an antidote to nerve agents while treating Navalny and that medical personnel in the Charite clinic also used it while treating the anti-corruption campaigner.

Germany’s Defense Ministry has said the data about Navalny has been provided to the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Moscow’s UN

Read more