The US death toll from Coronavirus passes 150,000, but Donald Trump ignores the latest marker of the pandemic.
Instead, Trump spent the day in Texas to visit an oil rig and attend a fundraiser. He praised his shredding of environmental regulations, signed permits for fossil fuel production, railed against Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and smeared plans linking the battle against climate change with economic recovery as a “Green New Deal” disaster.
On Twitter, he tried to stoke race and class tension with the hyperbole that Americans “living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream” would no longer be “bothered” by low-income housing. The tweet was accompanied by an executive order revoking the Obama Administration’s protections against racial housing discrimination.
Fatalities reached 150,713 on Wednesday, with a rise of 1,457 in 24 hours. The increase was the largest since mid-May, and the seventh straight weekday with more than 1,000 deaths.
Confirmed cases stand at 4,426,982, with another 74,985 in 24 hours. After a three-month surge, rates are still rising in 35 of 50 states over the past two weeks
Six states set daily records on Wednesday for cases, including Florida, California, and Texas.
The grim reports came on the eve of the expiry of unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans, after the Republican Senate refused to extend the $600/week beyond Friday.
A provision in the GOP’s $1 trillion Coronavirus bill slashes the benefit to $200/week. A House bill, providing $3 trillion in relief and stimulus, maintains the $600/week until the end of the year.
More than 51 million Americans have filed unemployment applications since mid-March.
California State lawmakers are considering a plan to maintain the $600 per week if Congress does not extend the emergency funding.
Phil Ting, a Democratic from San Francisco, said:
We have millions of Californians that are, on a financial cliff. They really need that money to pay rent, to buy food, to pay for everyday living expenses….
The number one way you prevent the spread of Covid is you keep people in their homes.
On Capitol Hill, Rep. Louis Gohmert, a Coronavirus denier, tested positive a day after he refused to wear a mask at House Judiciary Committee hearing. Gohmert was “within an arm’s length” of the Attorney General William Barr as they spoke before the session, and was close behind Trump’s political appointee as they exited the session.
Barr’s office said the Attorney General was tested yesterday for the virus.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that members and staff are now required to wear masks at all times in the Hall of the House. Failure to do so is a “serious breach of decorum”.
Gohmert later speculated that he caught Coronavirus on the rare occasion when he wore a mask. He told a Texas TV station, “I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, I might have put some germs — some virus — onto the mask and breathed it in.”