As the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 nears 185,000, the Trump administration is refusing to join more than 170 countries in a global effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The administration opposes the effort in part because of the involvement of the World Health Organization. Public health officials warn the move could leave the United States without access to a vaccine if the global effort succeeds and U.S. efforts fail. Kendall Hoyt of Dartmouth’s School of Medicine said, “Just from a simple risk-management perspective, this is shortsighted.”
A panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health said there is no evidence to show that convalescent plasma treatment works against the coronavirus. This directly contradicts the Food and Drug Administration, which recently gave emergency use authorization for the treatment. Trump triumphantly made the announcement on the eve of the Republican National Convention. The NIH panel said, “Convalescent plasma should not be considered standard of care for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.”
Florida has ordered state agencies to stop working with Quest Diagnostics after the lab mistakenly delayed reporting 75,000 coronavirus test results to the state. Some of the test results date back to April.
New York City has postponed the opening of schools until September 21, after teachers threatened to go on strike to protest unsafe work conditions due to the pandemic. New York City is the only major urban school district in the country planning to reopen classrooms in the fall, though many students have opted for remote learning. Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, praised the city’s new reopening plan.
Michael Mulgrew: “And I can say to you now, because we have our independent medical experts, have stamped this plan — and we now can say that New York City’s public school system has the most aggressive policies and greatest safeguards of any school system in the United States of America.”
In international news, Russia has become the fourth country to surpass 1 million reported COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, India is on pace to soon surpass Brazil as the world’s second most infected nation behind the United States. In recent weeks India has emerged as the new epicenter of the pandemic.
President Trump traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, Tuesday despite fierce opposition to his visit by Wisconsin’s governor, lieutenant governor and Kenosha’s mayor. Kenosha erupted in protests last week after the police shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed. During the protests, a 17-year-old white vigilante armed with a semiautomatic rifle killed two protesters and injured a third. Trump has refused to condemn the killings. During his visit to Kenosha, Trump did not meet with Jacob Blake’s family or directly mention his name. Trump also reiterated his recent comparison of officers who shoot people with golfers who choke under pressure.
President Donald Trump: “We have to condemn the dangerous anti-police rhetoric. It’s getting more and more. It’s very unfair. You have some bad apples. We all know that. And those will be taken care of through the system. And nobody is going to be easy on them, either. And you have people that choke. They’re under tremendous — I said it yesterday, I said it last night: They’re under tremendous pressure.”
During his visit to Kenosha, Trump also repeated the falsehood that he ordered the National Guard to Kenosha, when in fact it was the state’s governor. We’ll go to Kenosha later in the broadcast.
In an apparent nod to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, President Trump has claimed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is being secretly controlled by people in the “dark shadows.” Trump made the comment during an interview with Laura Ingraham of Fox News.
President Donald Trump: “I don’t even like to mention Biden, because he’s not controlling anything. They control him.”
Laura Ingraham: “Who do you think is pulling Biden’s strings? Is it former Obama officials?”
President Donald Trump: “People that you’ve never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows. People that are” —
Laura Ingraham: “What does that mean? That sounds like conspiracy theory: 'dark shadows.' What is that?”
President Donald Trump: “No, people that you haven’t heard of. There are people that are on the streets. There are people that are controlling the streets. We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with — with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that. They’re on a plane.”
Laura Ingraham: “Where was this?”
President Donald Trump: “I’ll tell you sometime, but it’s under investigation.”
President Trump provided no evidence to back up his claim about thugs on planes. He initially claimed the plane was headed to the Republican National Convention. On Tuesday, he told reporters the plane was going from Washington to “wherever.” NBC reports Trump’s claim is very similar to a conspiracy theory started in June by a man in Idaho that went viral within far-right circles on social media.
Protests took place in Los Angeles for a second day on Tuesday over the police killing of Dijon Kizzee, a 29-year-old Black bicyclist who was shot dead after being pulled over for an alleged bike violation on Monday. Kizzee was repeatedly shot in the back by Los Angeles sheriff deputies as he attempted to flee police. According to the sheriff’s account, Kizzee had a gun but dropped it along with a bundle of clothing before the deputies started shooting him. Community activist Najee Ali decried the police killing, saying, “The deputies essentially executed a man riding his bicycle.”
In labor news, over 50 Black former McDonald’s franchise owners have filed a lawsuit accusing the fast-food giant of “systematic and covert racial discrimination.” The plaintiffs argue McDonald’s intentionally placed their restaurants in locations with high poverty and crime, where the operating costs of running a franchise were higher while the sales were significantly lower — fostering what the lawsuit describes as a “financial suicide mission.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a temporary order to halt residential evictions until the end of the year in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Housing advocates have warned as many as 40 million people could face eviction due to the economic crisis. Under the CDC plan, most renters will be allowed to stay in their current property through the end of the year — but will eventually be required to pay missed rent payments.
The United Nations is appealing for more aid for Sudan after at least 90 people died in historic flooding in which the Nile River rose to its highest level in over 100 years. Eighty thousand homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
A prominent critic of the Rwandan government has been arrested after being abducted in Dubai and taken back to Rwanda to face charges. Paul Rusesabagina is best known for being portrayed in the film “Hotel Rwanda,” which tells the story of how he saved 1,200 Rwandans during the 1994 genocide by sheltering them in a hotel he managed. Rusesabagina has lived in exile for years in Belgium and the United States.
In immigration news, BuzzFeed reports the Trump administration is considering an unprecedented expansion in the collection of biometric data for immigration applications. According to the draft policy, the government could require eye scans, DNA, voice prints and photographs for facial recognition. Andrea Flores of the ACLU criticized the proposal, saying, “It will simply make it easier for the government to surveil and target our communities and to bring us closer to a dystopian nightmare.”
In Texas, the top commander at Fort Hood has been removed from his post as public outcry grows over a series of killings and accusations of sexual abuse at the Army base. There have been 23 deaths at Fort Hood this year; 13 soldiers have disappeared or been killed. On Tuesday, the Army announced a new investigation into Fort Hood’s chain of command related to the killing of soldier Vanessa Guillén, whose remains were found near the base in July. The main suspect in her death, another Fort Hood soldier, killed himself. Last week the remains of another Fort Hood soldier, Elder Fernandes, were found near the base hanging from a tree.
A new book by New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt claims Vice President Mike Pence was put on standby last November to take over the powers of the presidency when President Trump had to make an unannounced visit to Walter Reed hospital. Schmidt reports there was concern Trump would need to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized. On Tuesday, Trump responded to the claim by writing on Twitter that he had not suffered a “series of mini-strokes” — that’s something Schmidt does not allege in the book. Pence says he does not recall being put on standby during the hospital visit.
In Britain, at least 90 climate activists were arrested Tuesday as the direct action group Extinction Rebellion kicked off a 10-day campaign to demand government action to combat the climate crisis.