White House management has been accused of being very lax in their efforts to prevent the coronavirus spreading in a building where not only does the president of the United States work, but also a whole slew of support staff.
Up until now, it hadn’t been mandatory to wear face masks inside in rooms where social distancing could not be maintained, and staff were only emailed with details of what to do after Trump’s positive test nearly two days after it had been announced.
There’s a huge shift apparent this week, though, as pictures have emerged of cleaning staff in full personal protective gear disinfecting working parts of the building.
Donald Trump has faced intense criticism for his comments on his return to the White House that people shouldn’t let coronavirus ‘dominate’ their lives. Understandably bereaved relatives and those suffering the ill-effects of ‘long Covid’ were unimpressed.
This morning we have another profile in our Lost on the frontline series, looking at the healthcare professionals in the US who have lost their lives during the course of the pandemic.
It took Carrie Wanamaker several days to connect the face she saw on GoFundMe with the young woman she had met a few years before.
According to the fundraising site, Adeline Fagan, a 28-year-old resident OB-GYN, had developed a debilitating case of Covid-19 and was on a ventilator in Houston.
Scrolling through her phone, Wanamaker found the picture she took of Fagan in 2018, showing the fourth-year medical student at her side in the delivery room, beaming at Wanamaker’s pink, crying, minutes-old daughter.
You can read more about Adeline Fagan here: Texas doctor, 28, dies of Covid: ‘She wore the same mask for weeks, if not months’
Also on voting logistics, a federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments this afternoon over whether North Carolina is providing voters sufficient opportunity to fix absentee ballots that arrive without full information on who witnessed it.
US District Judge William Osteen was holding a hearing on Wednesday afternoon concerning a trio of lawsuits filed over how the state handles absentee ballot. A key issue is the requirement in state law that people who cast absentee ballots have it witnessed by another adult.
Late last month, the State Board of Elections had agreed to allow voters to fix problems with incomplete witness info by sending in an affidavit and not starting a new ballot from scratch and having it witnessed again. But that change was temporarily halted by a different federal judge, who sent two cases brought by Republican leaders to Osteen.
Osteen was already presiding over a separate case brought by voting rights activists who argued that the state’s absentee ballot rules were too restrictive for voters coping with the coronavirus pandemic.
In August, Osteen asked the state to ensure voters have a fair process to fix errors on their ballots. But he said in court papers last week that he has concerns that the process put in place by the state would essentially eliminate the one-witness requirement.
A couple of bits of election logistics news. First up, last night Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the state’s voter registration deadline to 7pm, after the state’s online system crashed, potentially preventing thousands of people enrolling to cast ballots in next month’s presidential election.
Florida is a key state for November. If Joe Biden is able to flip the state back to supporting the Democratic nominee, the 29 Electoral College votes it gives severely narrows Trump’s possible paths to victory.
“You can have the best site in the world, but sometimes there are hiccups,” DeSantis said. “If 500,000 people descend at the same time, it creates a bottleneck.”
Florida secretary of state Laurel Lee, who oversees the voting system, said that at times on Monday the online registration system “was accessed by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour.”
“At this time, we have not identified any evidence of interference or malicious activity impacting the site,” she said in a statement Tuesday night. “We will continue to monitor the situation and provide any additional information as it develops.”
There’s already legal action over it, with voting advocacy groups filing a suit claiming at least two additional days were needed to give those denied access enough time to learn of the extension and respond. They said that anything less would be voter suppression.
“No voter should be denied their right to vote during a global health pandemic because Florida did not have a functioning online voter registration system,” said Jorge Vasquez, power and democracy director at Advancement Project National Office. No hearing has been set.
AOC: Trump has ‘walked away from every working person’ over Coronavirus relief package
Overnight, New York’s progressive Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has given her view on the president’s decision to shut down negotiations for a new coronavirus stimulus and relief package before November’s election.
She described Donald Trump as “walking away from every working person in this country”. She told MSNBC:
We’re already starting to see warning signs of the severe economic and health fallout that is to come. We are on the brink of an eviction crisis not just here in our district, but also across the country 30 to 40 million people are at risk of being evicted. That’s before we even get to mortgages, it’s before we get to unemployment extension. It’s before we get to another second stimulus check and just as we’re entering the fall, we are at risk of a second spike. We are looking at the potential of hunger in the United States exploding on a level that we have never seen since the Great Depression, and all of it is preventable. All of it. All we need to do is authorise a second stimulus check.
You can watch the clip here:
We are still quite a few hours away from the Pence-Harris debate – it begins at 9pm ET tonight (that’s 2am on Thursday morning if like me you are in London) – but Adam Gabbatt has got you covered here for everything you need to know in advance about the staging, the moderator, and the format:
It’s been a chaotic few days since Donald Trump was hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus. But there’s a chance for something approaching an episode of normality in US politics on Wednesday, when the first and only vice-presidential debate takes place.
Democratic challenger Kamala Harris and Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, will face each other in Utah, where debate organizers have been forced to take extra precautions after Trump and a growing number of his entourage came down with Covid-19 shortly after last week’s first presidential debate. The coronavirus crisis is expected to dominate the proceedings.
Good morning. Today is the day of the vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. They’ll be separated by some plexiglass, for fears of the spread of the coronavirus outbreak that has gripped White House staff. Here’s a catch up on where we are, and what we can expect today…
- Nancy Pelosi said the White House is “in complete disarray” after Trump abruptly crushed talks on a fresh coronavirus economic relief bill. Pelosi accused Trump of “putting himself first at the expense of the country”.
- Joe Biden gave a speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Biden expressed concern that America is so divided it’s in a “dangerous place”. He also called on Americans to follow the “scientific recommendations” for how to protect themselves against coronavirus.
- Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, is the latest person in the president’s orbit to test positive for Covid-19. Here’s what we know so far about the Covid outbreak at the Trump White House.
- Facebook announced it is to ban QAnon-themed groups, pages and accounts in a new crackdown.
- Convalescent Donald Trump has nothing in his diary for today. Joe Biden is fund-raising.
- Mike Pence and Kamala Harris will debate in Salt Lake City for 90 minutes, starting at 9pm ET. You can watch it right here – we will be streaming the debate and offering live coverage, fact-checking and analysis.