Trump: 'I had no idea how popular the task force is'
Today so far
Pelosi to Trump: 'Death is not an economic motivator'
New York leaders warn rest of US against rushing to reopen
New York leaders are warning that while the state and city are past the initial peak in the coronavirus outbreak, the number of new cases in the rest of the US is still rising.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio warned that other states may be moving too quickly to open up businesses and loosen restrictions on gatherings.
“This desire to restart and open up without necessarily referencing the actual facts of what’s going on is dangerous,” de Blasio said on CNN this morning.
At his daily briefing, state governor Andrew Cuomo said that while the number of new cases, hospitalizations and the death toll in New York were coming down, the rate of decline is “painfully slow”.
And he said: “We have turned the corner, but then you take New York out of the national numbers and the numbers for the rest of the nation are going up.”
Cuomo added, during the question and answer session with the media: “You have states opening up where the numbers are still on the incline, I think that’s a mistake.”
New York is still recording 600 new coronavirus cases a day. That’s down from around 1,000 a day during the peak in April and the state recorded 230 Covid-19 deaths on Monday, far lower than the peak of 799 a day on April 8.
Cuomo said he had hoped the rates of cases and deaths would have been coming down faster but the number of deaths is “stubborn and most distressing”.
The bulk of new cases are still in New York City, largely among the over-50s and disproportionately affecting African-Americans.
But he added that most of the new cases were being discovered among those who have been staying at home, largely retired or unemployed.
“So it comes down to personal behavior. What are you doing to protect yourself?” he said, noting that schools, most businesses and cultural sites are shut.
Meanwhile De Blasio said earlier that New Yorkers have succeeded in lowering virus infection rates by largely following social distancing orders and by covering their faces in public.
“My message to the rest of the country is learn from how much effort, how much discipline it took to finally bring these numbers down and follow the same path until you’re sure that it’s being beaten back or else if this thing boomerangs you’re putting off any kind of restart or recovery a hell of a lot longer,” he said.
As of today, there are 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the US and there have been 71,000 deaths.
Pompeo: No 'certainty' but 'significant evidence' virus came from Wuhan lab
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo was pressed today on his claim on Sunday that there was “enormous evidence” that the Sars-CoV-2 virus originated in a Wuhan laboratory, a claim that was in conflict with statements from Anthony Fauci, the top US scientific voice on the outbreak, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley.
The secretary of state got a little testy telling a BBC reporter who had raised the inconsistencies. “Your efforts to try and find, to spend your whole life trying to drive a little wedge between senior American officials, it’s just false,” Pompeo said.
He argued that everyone was singing from the same songsheet. ”Every one of those statements is entirely consistent,” he said. “We’re all trying to figure out the right answer. We’re all trying to get to clarity. There are different levels of certainty assessed at different places. That’s highly appropriate. People stare at datasets and come to different levels of confidence.”
Finally, after more questioning, he repeated his assertion that there was strong evidence of a lab accident, but not before becoming irritable again. He said: “I’m not sure what it is about the grammar that you can’t get. We don’t have certainty. There is significant evidence that this came from the laboratory. Those statements can both be true.”
For context, General Milley has said the evidence of the origins are inconclusive, but the “weight of evidence seems to indicate natural” evolution.
Dr Fauci said: “Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that it evolved in nature and then jumped species.”
Giving a press conference at the state department this morning, Mike Pompeo was asked about the bizarre events in Venezuela over the weekend when opposition activists and two US army veterans staged an abortive raid, supposedly aimed at somehow toppling and even capturing President Nicolas Maduro and other top officials.
Pompeo said: “There was no US government direct involvement in this operation. If we had been involved it would have gone differently.”
Unsurprisingly, the word “direct” is getting a lot of attention from Venezuela watchers on Twitter. The secretary of state added: “As for who bankrolled it, we’re not prepared to share any more information about what we know took place. We’ll unpack that at the appropriate time. We’ll share that information when it makes good sense.”
Asked what was being done to get the two Americans in Venezuelan custody back, Pompeo said: “We’re going to work on this. ... We will start the process of trying to figure a way - if in fact these are Americans that are there - and that we can figure out a path forward. We want to get every American back. If the Maduro regime decides to hold them, we will use every tool that we have available to try and get them back. It’s our responsibility to do so.”