As the US set a world record for most Covid-19 cases in one day, with 60,000 reported on Wednesday, Dr Anthony Fauci, a senior member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, said states needed to pause reopening efforts.
“Rather than think in terms of reverting back down to a complete shutdown, I would think we need to get the states pausing in their opening process,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the Hill.
Fauci’s comment represented a retreat from a remark made on a Wall Street Journal podcast on Wednesday, when he said “any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down” again.
Fauci has been attacked by Donald Trump and reportedly barred from major media appearances but he has found other ways to reach the American public, speaking to webcasts and in testimony before a Senate committee.
In remarks published by the Journal on Thursday and likely to anger the president, Fauci said the government needed to do better in making the case for personal responsibility and added: “We need to get people like myself, like my colleagues, out there more.”
On what he called a “sweltering day” in the White House rose garden – I can confirm my laptop briefly fainted in the heat – Donald Trump repurposed his culture war for a Hispanic audience.
The US president signed an executive order establishing the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative and returned to a recent theme that portrays a left wing mob intent on destroying history and defunding police. This, he warned, would make America resemble the strife-torn countries that many immigrants have fled.
“Now Hispanic Americans are watching as the cities they helped build, the communities they helped police, the businesses they created and the dreams they pursued are being threatened by an extreme movement that wants to tear everything down,” Trump said. “At the centre of this movement is an aggressive effort to defund the police, if you can even believe that. Defund the police: think about that. It’s a sad, sad thing. These people are crazy – they are crazy.”
Defunding police “would inflict great harm on our hard working Latino communities,” continued the president, who champions a border wall and has frequently demonised immigrants from Central America. “Many immigrants came to the United States in order to leave counties where the rule of law had been eroded and they don’t want those same conditions to be replicated here. They don’t want them back. They know what it is first hand.
“They know what happens when the police cannot protect the innocent, when the rule of law is destroyed, when justice becomes an instrument of vengeance. Hispanic Americans, they know. They’re hard working patriots who support our police, protect our communities and believe strongly in the rule of law. I will stand arm in arm with the Hispanic community to ensure that every child in America can grow up in safety, security, dignity and in peace.”
During his speech, Trump also reiterated his demand for schools to reopen, citing Germany, Norway, Denmark, Sweden as countries that have done so successfully. Sweden notoriously decided against a mass lockdown and suffered a higher death toll with little economic reward.
The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley, had some forthright things to say about the naming of army bases after Confederate generals, whom he described as traitors. His remarks to the House armed services committee stand out in the context of Trump’s insistence he would not even consider renaming the 10 army bases named for Confederate military leaders.
Milley noted that the military is 43% minority, and 20% African American, rising to 30% in some bases. He recalled a staff sergeant at Fort Bragg who told him he had go to work every day at a base named after a man, Confederate general Braxton Bragg, who had enslaved his grandparents.
The Confederacy, Milley told the committee, “was an act of rebellion. It was an act of treason at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the US Constitution, and those officers turned their back on their own.”
Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a $700bn proposal to grow American industry as the centerpiece of his presidential campaign pitch to lead the nation’s economic recovery in the wake of the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
The ambitious “buy American” campaign is one pillar of a broader economic platform, titled “Build Back Better”, which Biden is expected to outline at a speech near his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Thursday afternoon.
Though Biden leads Donald Trump in national and battleground state polls, voters consistently say they trust the president’s stewardship of the economy.
The proposal calls for the federal government to purchase $400bn worth of US goods and services and invest $300bn in research and development of technologies such as electric vehicles, 5G cellular networks and artificial intelligence. According to an outline provided by the campaign, the plan would create “at least 5m new jobs in manufacturing and innovation”.
“This will be the largest mobilization of public investments in procurement, infrastructure and [research and development] since WWII,” the proposal states.
Other policies included in the plan are proposals to make it easier for workers to unionize and bargain collectively and to tighten enforcement of “buy American” laws that are designed to protect American industry but can be easily circumvented.