Brooks’ funeral takes place in Atlanta
Rayshard Brooks’ funeral is now underway in Atlanta, Georgia, with family members and friends offering their remembrances of him.
Brooks, a black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer while running away from him earlier this month. The officer, Garrett Rolfe, has since been charged with felony murder.
Brooks’ gold casket arrived at the Atlanta church in a black and white funeral hearse, which featured a poster reading “killed in Atlanta Georgia 2020”.
The funeral is taking place at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev Martin Luther King Jr once preached, and King’s daughter, the Rev Bernice King, just delivered remarks at the service.
Lawmakers are sounding pessimistic about the chances of passing police reform through Congress, after Senate Democrats signaled they would block the Republican bill from being taken up for debate.
“There’s probably no path forward in this Congress if they block debate tomorrow,” Republican senator Roy Blunt said on Capitol Hill.
House Democrats are expected to pass their police reform bill later this week, but Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said the Democratic legislation is a non-starter.
Unless something dramatic shifts in the next few days, it’s seeming increasingly likely that Congress will do nothing to address police brutality before the November elections, despite the nationwide protests calling for change.
More from the Guardian’s Sam Levine:
A long wait formed to vote at the football stadium for the University of Kentucky, the only site open for in-person voting on Tuesday.
Donald Blevins, the county clerk, said in an email the county was adding additional check-in stations to ease the lines.
“It’s a combination of things- the venue is not as big as we would like, but the conference center in Lexington was under construction so it is the best I can do,” he said in an email. “In addition, a little heavier turnout that we expected, and without our normal late morning ‘lull’ where lines usually get caught up.”
There has been widespread attention focused on attention as local officials have had to rapidly consolidate polling places because of a shortage of polworkers. Many voters, however, have already cast their ballots by mail, and in Louisville, the state’s largest city, there weren’t long lines on Tuesday morning.
More from The Guardian’s Sam Levine:
Ahead of Tuesday’s elections, experts were skeptical that the polling place consolidations in states like Kentucky would lead to the kind of massive lines Americans saw in Georgia and Wisconsin earlier this year.
There was a surge in voters who took advantage of expanded absentee voting, said Joshua Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky. As voting got underway on Tuesday, there were not long lines in Louisville. Wait times in Lexington were nearly two hours, but the delay appeared to be an issue checking people in.
There is also close scrutiny on New York City, where several progressive insurgents are trying to oust Democratic incumbents. New York, like Kentucky, waived a longstanding requirement that voters provide an excuse to request an absentee ballot.
In New York City, local officials were overwhelmed by the number of requests for ballots. As of Friday, there were more than 30,000 people who hadn’t received their ballots despite putting in a request, according to the New York Times.
Both New York and Kentucky will count ballots as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday. That means the public likely won’t know the results for days because ballots will still be coming in after the polls close.
The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:
Polls were open for voters in Kentucky, New York, and Virginia on Tuesday in the latest test of whether states can successfully hold elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Observers are closely watching the elections in New York and Kentucky, states that usually limit voting by mail to those with an excuse but have significantly expanded it during the pandemic.
In Kentucky, where there is a closely-watched race to choose an opponent to take on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell this fall, there was national outcry over the severe consolidation of polling places after many poll workers dropped out due to health concerns.
In Jefferson County, home of Louisville, there was only one polling place open on Tuesday for 767,000 residents.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Trump said he would soon sign an executive order on monuments. The president said the order would be aimed at punishing “vandals” and “hoodlums” who have defaced or tried to take down controversial monuments since the start of the George Floyd protests. However, it’s unclear what impact the order would have, considering it’s already a federal crime to deface federal property.
- Senior health officials, including Dr Anthony Fauci, are testifying on Capitol Hill. Fauci said he was “cautiously optimistic” a coronavirus vaccine would be made available by early next year. The health officials also said Trump never told them to slow down coronavirus testing, contradicting the president’s comments this morning.
- Senate Democrats signaled they would block the Republican police reform bill. Three Democratic senators sent a letter to majority leader Mitch McConnell saying the bill was “not salvageable” and should not be taken up for debate. But McConnell has already said House Democrats’ police reform bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, making it less and less likely that police reform legislation will pass before the November elections.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Dr Anthony Fauci reiterated that he is “cautiously optimistic that we will be successful in getting a vaccine” by the beginning of next year.
Fauci said, “I think there is a reasonably good chance that by the beginning of 2021 that, if we are going to have a vaccine, we will have it by then.”
The infectious disease expert noted at the beginning of the hearing that one promising vaccine candidate will enter phase three trials next month.
Dr Brett Giroir, a top official at the department of health and human services, said neither Trump nor anyone in his administration has asked him to slow down coronavirus testing.
“We are proceeding in just the opposite,” Giroir said, pledging to do more coronavirus testing in the weeks and months to come.
Asked whether he would support decreasing testing, Giroir said it was crucial to “test appropriately, smartly and as many people as we can.”
Just hours before the House hearing, Trump insisted he was not kidding when he said during his Saturday rally in Tulsa that he had ordered testing to be slowed because it was revealing more cases of coronavirus.
Congressman Bobby Rush asked Dr Anthony Fauci if he believed institutional racism was to blame for the higher rate of coronavirus deaths among African Americans.
Fauci said he believed that institutional racism was one contributing factor to the disparity in coronavirus outcomes, as well as African Americans making up a disproportionately high percentage of frontline workers.
“I cannot imagine that [institutional racism] has not contributed to the conditions they find themselves in econmically and otherwise,” Fauci said.
Figures compiled last month by the non-partisan APM Research Lab showed African Americans are dying of coronavirus at three times the rate of white Americans.
Fauci: ‘We will be doing more testing’
House energy and commerce committee chairman Frank Pallone asked the senior health officials whether Trump has ever told them to slow down coronavirus testing, as the president claimed over the weekend.
Each of the four officials said they had not been asked to slow down testing and would oppose such a move.
“To my knowledge, none of us have ever been told to slow down on testing,” Fauci said. “That just is a fact. In fact, we will be doing more testing.”
CDC director Robert Redfield added, “All of us have been and continue to be committed to increasing readily, timely access to testing.”
Dr Anthony Fauci applauded some states, such as New York, for their cautious approach ro reopening, but he warned of “a disturbing surge of infections” in certain parts of the country.
“We’ve been hit badly,” Fauci said. But he added, “In some respects, we have done very well.”
The infectious disease expert then told congressman Frank Pallone, the chairman of the House energy and commerce committee, “Bottom line Mr. Chairman, it’s a mixed bag. Some [areas] are good. Some now have a problem.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said he is “cautiously optimistic” a coronavirus vaccine would be ready by late 2020 or early 2021.
Fauci said there have been “financial risks” taken to quickly develop a vaccine, but he emphasized there have not been any health or safety risks taken for vaccine development.
Some public health experts have expressed fear that Trump will try to fast-track development of a vaccine to make it available before the November election, which could increase safety risks.
Fauci testifies before the House
Senior health officials, including Dr Anthony Fauci, are now testifying before the House energy and commerce committee on the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci is testifying alongside CDC director Robert Redfield, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn and Brett Giroir, a top official at the department of health and human services.
The hearing comes as nearly half of US states are seeing increases in coronavirus cases after starting to reopen their economies.
Despite that alarming trend, Trump said over the weekend that he has asked his administration to slow down coronavirus testing because it is revealing more positive results.
So here’s the current state of play: it looks like Senate Republicans will not even get their police reform bill considered, and House Democrats’ bill will likely pass but won’t be taken up in the Senate.
This partisan standoff means it is less and less likely that Congress will approve any police reform legislation before the November election, despite the widespread protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd.