Twenty-nine states are reporting surges in coronavirus cases as the country continues to reopen. On Monday, President Trump once again blamed increased testing for elevated case numbers, even as the White House dismissed a remark by Trump at his Tulsa rally Saturday about “slowing down testing” as a “joke.” The U.S. now has over 2.3 million confirmed cases and over 120,000 reported deaths — more than twice the number of cases and fatalities than the second-hardest-hit country, Brazil. The World Health Organization warned Monday against “politicizing” the pandemic.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “The greatest threat we face now is not the virus itself; it’s the lack of global solidarity and global leadership. We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world.”
A new study out of Harvard confirms the virus continues to disproportionately hit Black and Latinx communities, highlighting the risk to younger people. Latinx people aged 35 to 44 have a mortality rate nearly eight times higher than white people, while Black people in the same age group have a mortality rate nine times higher than white people. This comes as another study on the economic impacts of the coronavirus reveals around half of New York City’s immigrants are now unemployed due to the pandemic.
In the South, new outbreaks have been observed in states including Georgia, Florida and Texas. Florida hit the 100,000-infection milestone Monday. Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott said Monday COVID-19 is spreading at an “unacceptable rate,” yet he has no plans to shut down the state. Meanwhile, two more Trump campaign staffers tested positive for the coronavirus following Trump’s Tulsa rally Saturday.
One hundred economists are calling on lawmakers to invest at least $50 billion into the child care industry, which has been left reeling amid the pandemic. The economists write, “Child care is a critical piece of our economic infrastructure. … A major federal investment … will ensure greater parental employment, save roughly one hundred thousand small businesses, and contribute to a more efficient economic recovery.”
In immigration news, Trump issued a proclamation Monday suspending any new foreign work visas through the end of 2020, including the H-1B program for high-skilled workers. It also extends a ban on green cards issued outside the U.S., which has been in place since April. The Trump administration cited the coronavirus pandemic, saying the move will safeguard jobs for U.S. citizens. The order is expected to affect over half a million workers.
Three states are holding primary elections today: New York, Kentucky and Virginia. In Kentucky, voters are expected to face long lines as the state slashed the number of polling sites from 3,700 to 170 — a 95% reduction. In Louisville, Kentucky’s largest city, only one polling place has been designated.
The most closely watched race is the Democratic primary to pick a candidate to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. Progressive candidate, Kentucky state Representative Charles Booker — backed by Senators Warren and Sanders, as well as Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — has recently seen a surge in polling and is hoping to win out against former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath. McGrath has outspent Booker on ads, $14 million to $1 million.
Meanwhile, in New York City, progressive congressional candidate, former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman is challenging 16-term Democratic Congressmember Eliot Engel in his Bronx district.
This comes as Trump again attacked mail-in voting, falsely claiming it leads to fraud and that “Because of MAIL-IN BALLOTS, 2020 will be the most RIGGED Election in our nations history,” he tweeted. We’ll have more on today’s primaries later in the broadcast.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday the city would start dismantling the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” or the CHOP. “It’s time for people to go home,” Durkan told protesters. The “autonomous” zone, formed around a city police precinct, was the site of three shootings in recent days, resulting in one death. Durkan said Seattle police will soon return to the precinct, after abandoning it on June 8. Protesters occupying the area are calling Mayor Durkan out for using the shootings to justify shutting them down, and continue to call for her resignation.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, a protest encampment outside the city’s police headquarters ended over the weekend after the City Council committed to back a series of protester demands including shifting funding from the police department. In addition, the City Council has backed the demilitarization of the department and the removal of officers from the city’s schools. The week-long encampment was led by the group Justice for Jayson, which was formed after the fatal police shooting of 15-year-old Jayson Negron in 2017.
The New York City police commissioner on Monday defended the police officers who drove two SUVs into a crowd of protesters during a May 30 demonstration in Brooklyn. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea was questioned by New York Attorney General Letitia James during a public hearing on whether the officers had used excessive force, to which Shea answered “no” and said the officers were complying with the department’s standards.
The funeral for Rayshard Brooks is being held in Atlanta today. The 27-year-old African American was shot by police in the parking lot of a Wendy’s on June 12, prompting major protests and murder charges for the officer who shot him. A public viewing for Brooks was held Monday.
In Arizona, a federal lawsuit filed Monday by the NAACP and five prisoners accuses the Arizona Department of Corrections of practicing slavery and cruel and unusual punishment through private prisons. The lawsuit says prisoners are treated like property to create profit for corporate owners and shareholders. Although the five plaintiffs are white, the lawsuit also points to the disproportionate effect mass incarceration has on Black and Brown people, who make up over half of Arizona’s prison population.
In other news from Arizona, President Trump is planning a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in the city of Yuma today, ahead of a campaign rally in Phoenix.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has agreed to send a fact-finding mission to Libya to probe torture, mass killings and other human rights abuses committed by all sides in the ongoing conflict. This comes as the International Criminal Court has opened a probe into the discovery of 11 mass graves in the oil-rich country.
In news from Yemen, southern separatist forces have reportedly reached a ceasefire with Yemen’s Saudi-backed government. This comes two months after the separatists, who are backed by the United Arab Emirates, declared self-rule in the port city of Aden and nearby provinces. The two factions had been on the same side in the devastating U.S.-backed war against the Houthi rebels.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have warned a prominent Saudi dissident living in exile to take precautions because he may become a “potential target” of the Saudi kingdom. Omar Abdulaziz is a 29-year-old video blogger and activist living in Montreal who has publicly criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Abdulaziz said, “They want to do something, but I don’t know whether it’s assassination [or] kidnapping.” He was in regular contact with Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the time of his assassination by the Saudis in Turkey two years ago.
In other news from Canada, animal rights groups are mourning the death of activist Regan Russell, who was struck and killed by a truck transporting pigs to a slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario, Friday. She was holding vigil in front of the Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse at the time, according to witnesses, and giving pigs water. Russell was a member of the group Toronto Pig Save. Her death comes as Ontario passed a so-called ag-gag bill, making it illegal to interact with farmed animals as they are being transported. The police say they are investigating her death.
Federal prosecutors in New York said Monday a U.S. soldier confessed to sharing information with a satanic neo-Nazi group as part of a plot to kill members of his unit. Private Ethan Melzer was charged with collaborating with the Order of the Nine Angles, or O9A, a far-right group linked to white nationalist neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, as well as the Islamic State. Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss called him “the enemy within.” We’ll have more after headlines.
In Chicago, an 18-year-old is facing first-degree murder charges for allegedly fatally shooting a 37-year-old transgender woman after she told the teen she was trans. Orlando Perez reportedly had gone home with Selena Reyes-Hernandez, where he then interrogated her about her gender identity. Reyes-Hernandez is at least the 17th transgender person killed in the U.S. so far this year.
In sports news, NASCAR drivers and crew members on Monday escorted Bubba Wallace at the Talladega Superspeedway in a show of solidarity after a noose was found in Wallace’s garage Sunday. Wallace is the only African American driver in NASCAR’s elite Cup Series. Fellow drivers walked Wallace onto the track as they helped push his car. Wallace later tweeted a selfie with the crowd with the word “Together.” Wallace recently led a successful campaign to get NASCAR to ban displays of Confederate flags from its events.
In New York, tenants and housing rights advocates took to the streets around the state Monday, as the pandemic-related moratorium on evictions expired. In New York City, protesters gathered in front of housing courts in all five boroughs and called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to extend the moratorium for all New Yorkers and to cancel rent and mortgage payments for the duration of the crisis. This is housing rights activist Marcela Mitaynes, who is running in today’s election for New York State Assembly, in Brooklyn.
Marcela Mitaynes: “This capitalist society prioritizes property owner rights over tenants’ rights, workers’ rights and human rights. Now is our time to stand and dismantle this system that isn’t working.”
Housing rights groups say 50,000 to 60,000 eviction cases could be filed in New York City in the coming days. Thousands of cases that had been on hold due to the pandemic can now also proceed. Evictions disproportionately hit Black and Brown communities.