U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he “totally disagrees” with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s phase 1 plans to reopen tattoo parlors, bars, hair salons and other nonessential businesses this week.Trump said Kemp’s decision violates the phase 1 guidelines the White House announced last week that recommends states wait to ease social distancing restrictions until there’s widespread testing and a low level of community transmission. Trump said he respects Kemp’s right as a governor to make his own decision.Kemp is allowing tattoo parlors, spas, hair salons or barbershops, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen this week so long as they, and their patrons, follow physical distancing orders and other guidelines, Kemp announced on Monday.“Maybe you wait a little bit longer until you get to a phase 2. So do I agree with him? No, but I respect him and I will let him make his decision,” Trump said at a White House press conference. “Would I do that? No … But I’m going to let him make his decision, but I told him, I totally disagree.”
And I do mean “shocks.” As contentious as cable news interviews tend to be, you don’t often see the host call an elected official “ignorant.”
The strategy — aimed at allowing some exposure to the virus in order to build immunity among the general population while protecting high-risk groups like the elderly — has been controversial. Some health experts liken it to playing Russian roulette with public health.But now, the country’s chief epidemiologist said the strategy appears to be working and that “herd immunity” could be reached in the capital Stockholm in a matter of weeks.“In major parts of Sweden, around Stockholm, we have reached a plateau (in new cases) and we’re already seeing the effect of herd immunity and in a few weeks’ time we’ll see even more of the effects of that. And in the rest of the country, the situation is stable,” Dr. Anders Tegnell, chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s Public Health Agency, told CNBC on Tuesday.Herd immunity among a population, usually achieved through vaccination, is reached when around 60% of citizens are deemed immune.
NYT RUNS SCANDALOUS HEADLINE… Health Dept. Official Says Doubts on Hydroxychloroquine Led to His Ouster
WASHINGTON — The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.” […]But Trump administration officials painted a different picture of Dr. Bright’s tenure.Dr. Bright and Dr. Robert Kadlec, the assistant health secretary for preparedness and response, clashed repeatedly, according to those officials. While Dr. Bright followed careful procedures, they said, he was a polarizing figure within the Department of Health and Human Services, where concerns had circulated about a management style that was described as confrontational.
Those officials said that there had been discussions about removing Dr. Bright for many months, and that they came to a head after emails were leaked to Reuters last week detailing internal discussions about chloroquines. […]
In a statement, Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said that “Dr. Bright has departed BARDA to N.I.H., where he’ll work on development and deployment of novel point-of-care testing platforms.”
She added: “As it relates to chloroquine, it was Dr. Bright who requested an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for donations of chloroquine that Bayer and Sandoz recently made to the Strategic National Stockpile for use on Covid-19 patients. The E.U.A. is what made the donated product available for use in combating Covid-19.”
DAN DIAMOND, POLITICO: But Trump appointees had been trying to oust Bright for more than a year, unhappy with his management. POLITICO first learned about those disputes last year, before the Covid-19 outbreak hit the U.S. Bright didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment across Wednesday. (THREAD)
PICK YOUR FAVORITE STUDY? MEDIA USES VA STUDY TO RIP HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE…
Coronavirus patients taking hydroxychloroquine, a treatment touted by President Trump, were no less likely to need mechanical ventilation and had higher deaths rates compared to those who did not take the drug, according to a study of hundreds of patients at US Veterans Health Administration medical centers.
The study, which reviewed veterans’ medical charts, was posted Tuesday on medrxiv.org, a pre-print server, meaning it was not peer reviewed or published in a medical journal. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia.
Mr. Navarro is relentless with anyone in the West Wing who will listen, encouraging the government to keep stockpiling the drug and dismissing the recent studies as “deeply flawed.”The Brazil study gave doses of hydroxychloroquine in excess of the levels recommended by the Food and Drug Administration, Mr. Navarro said in an interview. The veterans study administered the medicine too late and focused narrowly on an older population with high incidences of cardiac failure, diabetes and lung disease, among other issues, he insisted.“None of this was reported by a mainstream media which appears incapable of reading anything more than study headlines,” he said. “To date, almost 40 studies have reported apparent usefulness of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in shortening length of hospital stay, improving symptoms, and resolving lung lesions as seen on X-rays.”
WASHINGTON — The alarming messages came fast and furious in mid-March, popping up on the cellphone screens and social media feeds of millions of Americans grappling with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.Spread the word, the messages said: The Trump administration was about to lock down the entire country.“They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters,” warned one of the messages, which cited a source in the Department of Homeland Security. “He said he got the call last night and was told to pack and be prepared for the call today with his dispatch orders.”The messages became so widespread over 48 hours that the White House’s National Security Council issued an announcement via Twitter that they were “FAKE.”
The younger Cuomo then recapped the meeting between the governor and the president, both of whom had said that the meeting went well. “You keep saying you have good meetings, so does he, and then you don’t have what you need to reopen. How is this progress?” he asked.“Nice to be with you again,” Andrew said, appearing to ignore the question. “Glad you’re feeling better. Glad Christine is feeling better.”“It is a common frustration, governor. It’s a common frustration,” Chris pressed again.“I don’t know how common it is and I don’t know that — your assertion is factually accurate,” Andrew pushed back. “I don’t keep meeting with the federal government, and I don’t keep meeting with the president. We had one meeting, and it was a good meeting and it was a productive meeting.”
CNN host Chris Cuomo’s 14-year-old son, Mario, has contracted the coronavirus — following the infections of his father and mother, according to the family.Chris Cuomo announced his own positive test for COVID-19 about three weeks ago, and he revealed his wife’s diagnosis about two weeks later.Cristina, in turn, posted about Mario’s illness on Instagram Wednesday.“This virus has created a different version of me. My hope is to be stronger, healthier, smarter about the virus at large,” Cristina wrote. “After 10 days of ups and downs, feeling good one-day and terrible the next, I am now working hard to get my son, Mario, through the virus.”
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for a national work boycott, saying when businesses re-open people should refuse to go back to work.
In the first episode of Seat at the Table with Anand Giridharadas on Vice, Ocasio-Cortez says the American people should not return to work in order to provide for the family after the coronavirus pandemic has been controlled.
“When we talk about this idea of ‘reopening society’ you know, only in America- does the President, when the President tweets about liberation, does he mean go back to work. When we have this discussion about going back or reopening, I think a lot people should just say “no”- we’re not going back to that. We’re not going back to working 70 hour weeks just so that we can put food on the table and not even feel any sort of semblance of security in our lives,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
A former national security official for the Trump White House said Wednesday that former CIA Director John Brennan deliberately suppressed intelligence evidence that showed Russian President Vladimir Putin would benefit if “the more predictable and malleable” Hillary Clinton was elected president in 2016.In an oped at Fox News, former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz strongly disputes the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings in its latest report on the Russia matter. The bipartisan report, released on Tuesday, found that the intelligence community officials who prepared the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian interference in 2016 “were under no political pressure” to reach “specific conclusions.” […]“The House committee found the intelligence community assessment violated protocols for drafting such assessments,” Fleitz notes, but the Senate committee ignored these “extraordinary violations of intelligence community rules.”The intel assessment also supported the widely discredited Steele Dossier, which, as Fleitz points out, contained Russian disinformation.
A cyber security firm that contributed to a 2018 Senate Intelligence Committee report about Russian disinformation received nearly half-a-million dollars that same year from two non-profit groups that partnered with Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, according to newly released tax filings.Advance Democracy Inc. (ADI) and The Democracy Integrity Project (TDIP), the two non-profits, paid $485,000 in 2018 to Popily, Inc., an Austin-based company better known as New Knowledge.ADI and TDIP paid $747,608 the same year to Walsingham Partners, a firm controlled by Steele, and $2,010,317 to Bean, LLC., a shell company that controls Fusion GPS.Daniel J. Jones, the founder of ADI and TDIP, is a former FBI agent and Senate Intelligence Committee aide best known for his investigation of CIA torture during the war on terror.He formed TDIP on Jan. 31, 2017, following a meeting with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. The goal of the initiative was to continue an investigation into President Donald Trump that Fusion GPS and Steele started during the 2016 campaign.That project resulted in the now-discredited dossier that accused the Trump campaign of conspiring with the Kremlin. The special counsel’s investigation found no evidence of a Trump-Kremlin conspiracy. It was recently revealed that Steele himself might have fallen victim to Russian disinformation.
Third, on the matter of Justice’s investigation into the Trump-Russia probe, led by Connecticut U.S. attorney John Durham, the attorney general said that no announcement about the matter — whether indictments, a report of some kind, or an announcement that the cases is being closed — is “imminent.” Interestingly, Hewitt pressed Barr about Justice Department guidance that discourages prosecutors, in some cases, from filing criminal charges on the eve of an election. The AG pointedly replied that this guidance applies to candidates in the election, and that no one under investigation by Durham falls into that category.It is reasonable to glean from this that we are probably weeks away, if not more, from any definitive announcement about the Durham investigation.