The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could top 410,000 by January 1, according to a new projection from the influential Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — that’s more than double the current death toll, which is approaching 187,000. The institute projects the daily death toll could reach 3,000 per day by December. However, the institute is projecting 120,000 lives could be saved if 95% of the country regularly wore face masks.
President Trump is openly mocking his Democratic rival Joe Biden for wearing a face mask.
President Donald Trump: “Did you ever see a man that likes a mask as much as him? And then he makes a speech, and he always has that — not always, but a lot of times he has it hanging down, because, you know what, it gives him a feeling of security. If I were a psychiatrist — right? — no, I’d say — I’d say, 'This guy's got some big issues.’”
President Trump made the remark during a packed outdoor rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where few attendees wore masks or practiced social distancing. The state of Pennsylvania has banned outdoor gatherings of more than 250 people, but the Trump campaign openly violated the restriction.
COVID-19 cases are surging on college campuses across the country. More than 45,000 cases have been reported since late July. The State University of New York, Oneonta, has canceled in-person classes for the rest of the semester after nearly 400 students tested positive for coronavirus. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has announced a two-week lockdown after more than 700 students became infected.
The global death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 870,000. On Thursday, Brazil became the second country to top 4 million cases. Meanwhile, India reported nearly 84,000 new cases on Thursday — the highest daily count for any country since the pandemic began. This comes as Amnesty International is reporting over 7,000 health workers have died from COVID-19, including over 1,300 in Mexico and nearly 1,100 in the United States. In other health news, the United Nations is warning the poverty gap between women and men is widening. The U.N. estimates 47 million more women and girls will be pushed into poverty due to the pandemic.
U.S. Marshals have shot dead an anti-fascist activist who was suspected of killing a member of a far-right group during a recent protest in Portland, Oregon. Forty-eight-year-old Michael Reinoehl was shot dead in Lacey, Washington, near Olympia, just hours after an arrest warrant was issued for him. Lieutenant Ray Brady of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said four officers fired shots during the raid.
Lt. Ray Brady: “There was a confrontation between the officers that were on scene and the subject. The information that we have at this time is that the subject was armed. There was shots that were fired into the vehicle, and the subject fled from the vehicle, at which time there was additional shots that were fired.”
On Thursday, Vice News aired an exclusive interview with Michael Reinoehl, who appeared to admit to shooting Aaron Danielson, a member of the far-right Patriot Prayer group.
Michael Reinoehl: “I felt that my life and other people around me’s lives were in danger, and I felt like I had no choice but to do what I did. … They want to paint a picture of antifa having major involvement. A lot of people don’t understand what antifa represents. And if you just look at the basic definition of it, it’s just anti-fascist. And I am 100% anti-fascist. I’m not a member of antifa. I’m not a member of anything. Honestly, I hate to say it, but I see a civil war right around the corner. That shot felt like the beginning of a war.”
The mayor of Rochester, New York, has suspended seven police officers involved in the suffocation death of a Black man named Daniel Prude in March. The decision came one day after the man’s family released shocking video of his death. Prude died from asphyxiation after officers handcuffed him, put a hood over his head and then pushed his face into the freezing cold ground for two minutes while kneeling on his back. Prude was naked and unarmed. Rochester Mayor Lovely Ann Warren apologized to Prude’s family.
Mayor Lovely Ann Warren: “Mr. Daniel Prude was failed by our police department, our mental healthcare system, our society. And he was failed by me.”
Daniel Prude’s daughter, Tashyrah Prude, appeared on CNN Thursday and called for the officers to be fired and charged with murder.
Tashyrah Prude: “I would like to see them be fired and charged with murder. There is video footage of these people suffocating my father. My father was murdered by these police officers. There is no reason why they should be on a paid suspension. They should be arrested, and they should be tried as the killers that they are.”
Protesters gathered outside the home of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday, one day after police shot dead Deon Kay, an 18-year-old Black teenager. Bodycam footage released by the Metropolitan Police Department shows that Kay had a gun but that he threw it away before an officer shot him. Monica Hopkins of the ACLU of the District of Columbia condemned the police response. She said, “The tragic shooting and death of 18-year-old Deon Kay is the logical conclusion of a policy that not only meets violence with violence, but actually escalates and incites it — especially in our Black communities.”
On Thursday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, to meet with the family of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was paralyzed after being shot in the back seven times by police. Biden also spoke on the phone to Jacob Blake, who remains hospitalized.
Joe Biden: “As I got off the airplane, had an opportunity to spend some time with Jacob on the phone. He’s out of ICU. We spoke for about 15 minutes. … He talked about how nothing was going to defeat him, how, whether he walked again or not, he was not going to give up.”
Biden’s visit came two days after President Trump traveled to Kenosha but never once said Jacob Blake’s name.
In economic news, another 880,000 people applied for state unemployment benefits last week as the economic crisis continues. As of mid-August, some 29 million people were collecting some form of unemployment insurance. In related news, workers at Los Angeles International Airport staged a die-in protest Thursday calling for healthcare benefits to be extended to laid-off airport workers. Maria Hernandez is an organizer at UNITE HERE Local 11.
Maria Hernandez: “So, we did a 'die-in' protest here today with dozens of LAX concessions workers because we are calling on LAX and LAWA, which is the airport commissioner, to help extend coverage for thousands of workers that have been laid off due to COVID-19.”
Election officials across the country are criticizing President Trump for continuing to encourage supporters to vote twice in the upcoming election — once by mail and again in person — to test the system. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted, “It is illegal to vote twice. It is also easy to get caught. That’s like paying your taxes with Monopoly money.” However, Attorney General William Barr refused to criticize the president’s remarks during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
Attorney General William Barr: “He’s trying to make the point that the ability to monitor this system is not good. And if it was so good, if you tried to vote a second time, you would be caught, if you voted in person and there was” —
Wolf Blitzer: “That would be illegal if they did that. If somebody mailed in a ballot and then actually showed up to vote in person, that would be illegal.”
Attorney General William Barr: “I don’t know what the law in the particular state says.”
Wolf Blitzer: “You can’t vote twice.”
Attorney General William Barr: “Well, I don’t know what the law in the particular state says.”
The Atlantic magazine is reporting President Trump has repeatedly disparaged U.S. soldiers who died or were wounded in war, describing them as “losers” and “suckers.” The magazine reports Trump canceled a trip in 2018 to a World War I cemetery in France where U.S. marines are buried, because “he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain.” Trump is quoted as saying, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” Trump also opposed the inclusion of wounded veterans in a proposed 2018 parade, saying, “Nobody wants to see that.” President Trump dismissed the report in The Atlantic as fake news.
In Portugal, six young people have filed an unprecedented lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights against 33 nations for failing to engage in adequate action to combat the climate crisis. The lawsuit argues countries in the European Union, as well as Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, have pushed for climate policies that are too weak to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
At least one person is dead after an oil tanker off the east coast of Sri Lanka burst into flames Thursday. The tanker was carrying more than 2 million barrels of crude oil from Kuwait to India. One Filipino crew member died. It is unclear how much oil has spilled into the ocean.
In academic news, a George Washington University professor specializing in Africa and the African diaspora has admitted she has lied about being Afro-Latina for years, when in fact she is a white Jewish woman from the suburbs of Kansas City. Jessica Krug made the acknowledgment on Thursday in a column she wrote for Medium titled “The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies.” She said her career was built on a “toxic soil of lies.” She once described herself as a “unrepentant and unreformed child of the hood.” She was also an activist in New York and recently testified by video to the New York City Council.
Jessica Krug: “I also want to call out all these white New Yorkers who waited for hours with us to be able to speak and that did not yield their time to Black and Brown indigenous New Yorkers.”
One of Jessica Krug’s former colleagues, Yarimar Bonilla, has called on her to start a fellowship fund for Afro-Latina scholars and “fund it with at least as much money as she obtained through her lies.”
In Mexico, prominent transgender activist Mireya Rodríguez Lemus was found dead Wednesday in her home in the state of Chihuahua. LGBTQ rights advocates say her violent killing was an act of hate, and are demanding authorities investigate. This comes after the killing of another trans activist in Chihuahua in March. The northern Mexican state has one of the highest rates of killings of LGBTQ people in the entire country.
The acclaimed anthropologist, author and anarchist David Graeber has died at the age of 59. His influential book “Debt: The First 5,000 Years” made the case for sweeping debt cancellation. He helped organize the initial Occupy Wall Street protest and was credited with helping to coin the phrase “We are the 99%.” In 2011, he spoke on Democracy Now! two days after the Occupy encampment began.
David Graeber: “People have to, like, go into their public squares, meet each other, start talking to each other, and start brainstorming of ideas. I mean, essentially, the idea is the system is not going to save us; we’re going to have to save ourselves. So, we’re going to try to get as many people as possible to camp in some public place and start rebuilding society as we’d like to see it.”
David Graeber once wrote, “The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.”