Good news for pet owners: our favorite fluffy friends are unlikely transmitters of coronavirus, according to Dr Fauci.
Pets and animals can get infected with the virus, but “there’s no evidence that the virus is transmitted from a pet to a human,” Fauci said.
“Anything is possible,” Fauci added, but right now it seems unlikely.
“Testing asymptomatics will be key,” Dr Birx added, in response to a question about whether California is right to expand testing efforts to everyone, not just those who show symptoms of Covid-19.
In California, one small town is trying to test every single resident this week, but for the infection and for antibodies against it. A similar program will soon begin in San Francisco’s Mission district.
States should start by testing vulnerable people in nursing homes, indigenous communities and other underserved communities, Birx noted. Testing is “fundamental”, she said.
“We’re building infrastructure and capacity … to bring testing to scale,” Dr Birx said.
Trump interjected, “but without anything new, they have tremendous capability” for testing, undercutting the public health official’s point.
Fact check: Michelle Obama
Trump named Michelle Obama as one of the public figures who campaigned for Stacey Abrams, a Democrat and voting rights advocate, during her gubernatorial run against Georgia’s Brian Kemp. CNN’s Daniel Dale helps us out with this one:
Fact check: Testing
“Not everybody believes as strongly on testing,” the president said.
Maybe so, but most disease experts say that testing is key to learning more about how the disease spreads and safely reopening the country.
“As we look to reopen, we should have in place a system where we can much more easily, quickly test more people,” Art Reingold, who heads the epidemiology and biostatistics division at UC Berkeley’s school of public health, told the Guardian. “Then we can determine who is infected, isolate those individuals, and the people they were in contact with.”
Trump also claimed, once again, that the US is the “best” in the world at testing. That’s not true.
Overall, the US had administered more than 4.5m coronavirus tests, according to the Covid Tracking Project. From a very slow start, the US, with a population of 329m, had ramped up to a testing rate of one in every 80 people – a bit better than to South Korea’s rate of 1 in every 90 people. Germany has done even better, testing every 1 in 63 people.
In America, despite the recent increase in testing, backlogs are reported in labs across the country, and many people with symptoms – including health workers – are still struggling to access tests.
Asked about Rick Bright, the vaccine expert who said he was ousted for questioning the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, Trump said he didn’t know Bright.
“Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t,” Trump said. “I’ve never heard of him.”
Dr Anthony Fauci: “We will have coronavirus in the fall. I am convinced of that.”
Whether or not the outbreak in the fall will be “big or small is going to depend on our response … Nobody can predict what’s going to happen with an outbreak.”
Fauci’s statement seems to contradict what Donald Trump said earlier when the president tried to downplay the threat in the fall and winter and said that a second wave of illness “might not happen”.
More on the immigration executive order:
- Medical and other essential workers from abroad will be exempt, as will the spouses and minor children of American children, and “certain other aliens”.
- The administration will review guest worker programs.
- “The administration will continue to monitor the labor market to amend or extend the proclamation if needed,” per the White House.
The president said that he is establishing a new council to help black and Latino communities and other underserved communities access testing and care. The council will be headed by housing secretary Ben Carson.
Fact check: Employment
Before the crisis hit, Trump boasted that the US had the “best employment numbers ever, including for African Americans.”
That is not true. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was increasing for African Americans, even though it was decreasing overall. For example, in December 2019, the unemployment rate had fallen to 3.5% for all Americans and increased to 5.9% for black Americans. So far, the mass layoffs seem to have been proportionally higher for Asians and Hispanics. Recent figures showed that while whites and blacks saw job losses rise at the same pace, the unemployment rate for black people stood at 6.7% – 65% higher than for white people.
The Guardian’s Dominic Rushe has also pointed out that there were big problems with the US economy before Covid-19 hit. Stock market gains benefit mainly the wealthy. The richest 1% of Americans own more than half the value of equities owned by US households, according to Goldman Sachs.
And too many of the new jobs created under Trump were low wage. Even billionaires were worrying about growing income inequality. Minorities, who earn less on average, failed to make much ground in the boom years and are now the first, and the hardest hit, in the downturn.
Trump said he’s signed an executive order to restrict immigration
“I just signed it before walking into the room,” Trump said.
The move has been expected. The president said yesterday that he would sign an order temporarily blocking green card applicants.
Trump said he will be holding a July 4 celebration in Washington, DC’s national mall, like last year.
“On July 4, we will be doing what we had at the Mall. As you know, we’re gonna be doing it. Last year was a tremendous success and I would imagine we’ll do it, hopefully, I can use the term ‘forever.’ That was a great success, as you remember,” he said.
Reopening “spas, beauty salons, barbershops, and tattoo parlors” is ill-advised., Trump said.
“I love ‘those people who use all of those things,” he added. “I love ‘em, but they can wait just a little bit longer. Because safety has to predominate.”
Trump says he discouraged Georgia’s governor from reopening
The president says he told Georgia governor Brian Kemp that he disagreed “very strongly” with the decision to reopen businesses in the state. “I think it’s too soon,” he says. Georgia has not yet met the requirements to enter “Phase 1” of the White House plan to reopen the country, Trump noted.
Trump and his public health officials seem to be saying two different things. Despite disagreement over the semantics of “difficult” versus “devastating”, Redfield and Dr Deborah Birx both noted that there is a potential for a second wave of coronavirus in the fall.
“We are assured that the CDC is putting in place today what we are going to need in the fall … if the virus comes back,” Birx said. Redfield noted that it’s important to prepare for two viruses circulating in the fall.
But Trump predicted: “And if it comes back, though, it won’t be coming back in the form that it was. It will be coming back in smaller doses that we can contain.”
“You could have some embers of corona,” he added. But, “we will not go through what we went through for the last two months”.
The Washington Post’s headline, “CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating” was misleading because it should have said “difficult” rather than “devastating”, Redfield noted.
But “I’m accurately quoted in the Washington Post,” the director said.
“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through … And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean,” Redfield told the Post.
The fall and winter could be “more difficult, more complicated”, with two respiratory illnesses – Covid-19 and the seasonal flu – circulating at the same time.
“I didn’t say that this was going to be worse,” Redfield said. “I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially complicated.” Distancing measures and other hygiene guides will keep the coronavirus at bay, he noted.
He encouraged Americans to get the flu vaccine so that the country can focus on the coronavirus threat.
The president said that Robert Redfield, the CDC director, was “totally misquoted” saying that there would be a second wave of coronavirus in the autumn. The Post’s headline was “totally inaccurate”, Trump said. “As I say, it’s fake news.”
Trump has invited Redfield to explain.
The White House coronavirus briefing has begun
Stay tuned for live coverage and fact-checking.