Tag Archives: COVID-19

National Governors Association Questions Trump Administration on Funding, Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who chairs the National Governors Association, raised questions of all state governors on how a COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed when it becomes available. Who would be in line first? Who pays for the extraordinary storage requirements (minus 80 degrees)? Who pays for the essential workers to administer the millions of doses when states are suffering deficits forcing layoffs among essential workers? The National Governors Association raised these questions in a letter to the Trump Administration© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The National Governors Association, chaired by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, today sent a list of questions to the Trump Administration seeking clarity on how to most effectively distribute and administer a COVID-19 vaccine. The distribution and implementation of the vaccine is a massive undertaking that cannot be managed without significant logistical coordination, planning and financial assistance between states and the federal government. The list of questions — which were submitted from Republican and Democratic governors from around the country — covers funding for the administration of a vaccine, allocation and supply chain, and communication and information requirements.

“The National Governors Association, which I chair, sent a letter to the president of the United States last week. We asked to meet with the president to discuss how this is supposed to work between the federal government and the states,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are now releasing a compilation of questions from governors all across the country, Democratic and Republican, saying to the White House: how is this going to work? We need to answer these questions before the vaccine is available so that we are ready to go and no one is caught flat-footed when the time comes to vaccinate people.”

In his press briefing on COVID-19 in the state, Cuomo commented, “The 36 questions from the Governors sent to the White House basically are asking, ‘How does this work. We understand the concept but how does it work?’ Some of the questions: How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula is used – in other words, are you going to allocate it by infection rate? Are you going to allocate it by number of cases of COVID? Are you going to allocate it by population? Who determines how many each state gets – what’s the basis that you using.

“Is there a national strategy on the prioritization – in other words, the federal government going to say, ‘I think nursing homes should get it first. I think nurses should get it first. I think doctors should get it first. I think anybody over 70 should get it first.’ Is the federal government going to do that prioritization? Can they tell us if they’re going to condition the release of vaccines, right? The vaccines are controlled by the federal government. Are they going to turn around and say, ‘Well we won’t give you the vaccines, New York State, California unless you do X Y Z.’ And can we know that now? Is there multi-state coordination? On our own, during COVID we coordinated with the Northeastern states to New Jersey, Connecticut, et cetera. Is there a multi-state coordination piece here, or is everybody on their own? Am I my responsible for all of New York and there’s no connection to New Jersey and there’s no connection to Connecticut, there’s no connection to Pennsylvania?

“And who is going to pay to do this? New York State is already $50 billion in debt between state and local governments. And they have not passed legislation on the state and local relief. If the state has a deficit and the local governments have a deficit, we can’t fund essential workers. That’s who gets cut when you cut state and local governments. And now you’re going want undertake this vaccination program, which frankly requires more essential workers, not less? And they’re talking about a vaccine possibly in December. We’re here in October – this is just a few weeks to plan in this massive undertaking. Let’s learn the lessons from the past seven months. Otherwise, we’re going to relive the nightmares that we have lived through, right? Let’s not repeat the mistakes of March, April, May….

“We can’t go through that same confusion again. It’s not a question of knowing what to do. It’s a question of knowing how to do it. We know what we need to do. We need to control the virus, we need to take more tests, now we need to do vaccines. We know what we need to do. How do you do it? How do you do it – the devil’s in the details. How do you administer 40 million vaccines in the State of New York. That’s the trick. Everybody agrees with the concept. “Yes, vaccinate everyone.” Got it. How? How?

“And that’s the art form of government by the way and that’s what separates words from action and rhetoric from results and talk from competence – how do you do it? And that’s what we have to focus on now and that’s what the governors are saying to the federal government. Why? Because the way the federal government has structured it, the states are in charge of the doing. This person got to the COVID situation, he said, ‘It’s up to the Governors. It’s up to the states’. I don’t even know how that works by the way. It’s a nationwide problem. 50 states have it. But it’s not a federal response? The federal response is, ‘It’s up to you. You take charge, Governor. But I’m right behind you -go get ’em, tiger.’ Yeah, thank you very much. So again, I’m sure what the federal government is talking about is we’ll approve the vaccines, we’ll appropriate the vaccine, we then deliver them to the state. You figure out how to do it. Who pays? Insurance companies? What happens for the uninsured people? How do I keep dosages cold, – 80-degrees? Well, those are details. No. That’s the difference between life and death in a situation like this. And that’s where we have to get.”

Cuomo added, “The State will have a statewide vaccination plan. We will do it in concert with the federal government. The federal government is in charge of producing the actual vaccines and distributing the vaccines so the State’s position is we have to wait for the federal government to provide us the vaccines, what is the schedule, how many, etcetera…

“We believe there’s going to be questions about the safety of the vaccine, so we put together a special New York task force team of experts. I’m going to ask them to review any vaccine before I recommend it to the people of the state. I think that will give people added surety in the vaccine. But, we are coming up with a plan on many presumptions. We don’t really know how many doses we’re going to get. We don’t know what vaccine we’re going to get. We don’t know when we’re going to get it. So this is all preliminary. But, we would prioritize the vaccinations. The prioritization would be based on risk and essential workers would have a priority and people at risk would be prioritized and we’d set up a matrix on that regards, by that regards, and there’d be several phases to the administration of the actual doses. We’re working with our health care partners all across the state. This is going to be a massive undertaking, hospitals, urgent care facilities , primary care facilities, pharmacies, local departments of health, mobile units, mass vaccination sites.”

Here is the list of questions NGA gathered from the nation’s governors:   

Funding for Vaccine Administration  

  • Will there be funding allocated to states to assist with distribution of the vaccine and other vaccine efforts?  
  • Without additional state and local funding to implement COVID-19 vaccine plans, we will be hampered in what we can accomplish. When can we expect more definitive information about resources related to this response?   
  • What are the plans for any federal contracts and/or additional funding to support “boots on the ground” to vaccinate in tiers 2 and beyond?  
  • How will vaccine administration costs be covered for people who are uninsured?   
  • Will the federal government be setting guidelines around allowable vaccine administration costs for those with health insurance (whether that is state insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, or some other state funded health insurance)?   
  • How will funding/reimbursement for vaccines be handled?  
  • We understand that the vaccine will initially be provided at no cost, as was remdesivir. However, states now must pay for remdesivir on the commercial market. How long will the federal government commit to providing the vaccine to states cost-free?  

Allocation and Supply Chain  

  • How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula will be used?  
  • How will the vaccine be distributed? What mechanism will the federal government use?   
  • Can the administration provide more guidance on what prioritization requirements will be a condition of vaccine release and to what extent will states have latitude to guide these decisions?  
  • Are any further PREP Act changes anticipated beyond authorizations for pharmacists and interns to administer vaccine?  
  • How is CDC planning to manage vaccine distribution to Federal entities such as Federal Prisons, the VA and other Federal organizations? Will these entities receive a vaccine supply directly from the CDC or will states manage it?    
  • Similarly, when can states expect guidance from the federal government on the states’ responsibility to vaccinate federal employees (e.g., who is vaccinating National Guard, USPS employees, FBI, etc.  
  • How will tribal sovereignty be respected? The CDC sent a template asking how many vaccine doses need to be sent to each IHS/tribal health facility rather than asking states where each tribe wants their vaccine doses sent (which could be one of those facilities, a DOH public health office, a private provider that they’d like to contract with, etc.)  
  • What will be the national strategy for vaccine prioritization when supply is short?  
  • How will management of supplies (i.e. needles, syringes, alcohol pads, band aids, etc.) work?  
  • Will there be further guidance documents on handling ultra-cold vaccine (i.e. thawing, storage after thawing, reconstitution, etc.?  
  • We are aware of concerns that there is already a shortage of dry ice, which is being used to store the ultracold storage vaccines during the clinical trials.  
  • If that is true, does that shortage impact plans for shipping of ultracold storage vaccine using dry ice and containers that could store the vaccine for up to a week?   
  • If there is a shortage of dry ice, does this change the guidance to states to not purchase additional ultracold storage freezers?  
  • We also need guidance on redistribution of ultracold storage vaccines. If they will come in 1,000 dose shipments as indicated by the federal government, we likely will need to distribute them further in our rural areas.  What will the guidelines be to do that without compromising the vaccine?   
  • How long will the product be viable outside of the original packaging that the 1,000 doses will be shipped in? Can/will smaller volume packaging be provided in the shipment as well?   
  • What will the federal guidance be on sub-prioritization among the initial priority groups since there will not be enough vaccine at first for even healthcare workers as a group?   

Communication and Information Requirements  

  • There has been some indication that large pharmacy chains and possibly interstate healthcare systems will register directly with the federal government. We need the specific details since many of them are also reaching out to the states. This affects our targeted enrollment of these stakeholders to onboard as Covid-19 vaccine providers. When can we expect clarification on which stakeholders will contract directly with the federal government?  
  • Will there be coordinated multi-state process for monitoring vaccination effects (adverse effects, lack of immunity responses, etc) to ensure early warning signs are identified as quickly as possible?  
  • Will the federal government provide current/real time information about tribal nations enrolling with the CDC for direct shipments, versus enrolling through the state?   
  • Can the administration provide more information around long term care facilities? Specifically, are they planning to mandate vaccines in nursing homes through CMS? For example, will the use of vaccines be connected to continued Medicaid funding? If so, when would such requirements take effect?   
  • Is the federal government going to request that states report personally identifiable COVID vaccine data? We have concerns that this may create a lack of trust and discourage people from getting vaccinated.    
  • What is the state’s role in safety monitoring after people have been vaccinated?   
  • How many states are using VAMS as their Immunization Information System (IIS)?  
  • Will states share their micro-prioritization within Phase 1b?  
  • What communication/messaging materials have been developed?  
  • How will complex scientific data be messaged and shared publicly? What type of educational material, and in what languages, will be developed?  
  • What information will be shared publicly on each approved vaccine? How will transparency be ensured?   
  • CDC is planning to require reporting to the IIS within 24 hours of administration of the vaccine.  We know for flu vaccine there is a dramatic lag in data coming in – how will COVID-19 vaccine data reporting be any different?  

Nearly 500 Retired Top Military, National Security Officials Endorse Joe Biden

Memorial Day Commemoration, North Hempstead, Long Island, NY nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. The generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation. (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.”

Today, nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. In an open letter, the generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation.
 
Read the full letter below and see the full list of signatures here:

National Security Leaders for Biden: An Open Letter To America

To Our Fellow Citizens:
 
We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.”
 
We the undersigned endorse Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. He is the leader our nation needs.

We believe that Joe Biden is, above all, a good man with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is guided by the principles that have long made America great: democracy is a hard-won right we must defend and support at home and abroad; America’s power and influence stem as much from her moral authority as it does from her economic and military power; America’s free press is invaluable, not an enemy of the people; those who sacrifice or give their lives in service of our nation deserve our respect and eternal gratitude; and America’s citizens benefit most when the United States engages with the world. Joe Biden will always put the nation’s needs before his own.
 
Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.
 
We believe America’s president must be honest, and we find Joe Biden’s honesty and integrity indisputable. He believes a nation’s word is her bond. He believes we must stand by the allies who have stood by us. He remembers how America’s NATO allies rushed to her side after 9/11; how the Kurds fought by our side to defeat ISIS; and how Japan and South Korea have been steadfast partners in countering North Korean and Chinese provocations. Joe Biden would never sell out our allies to placate despots or because he dislikes an allied leader.
 
While some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.
 
We know Joe Biden has the experience and wisdom necessary to navigate America through a painful time. He has grappled with America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges for decades, learning what works – and what does not – in a dangerous world. He is knowledgeable, but he also knows that listening to diverse and dissenting views is essential, particularly when making tough decisions concerning our national security. Many of us have briefed Joe Biden on matters of national security, and we know he demands a thorough understanding of any issue before making a decision – as any American president should.
 
Finally, Joe Biden believes in personal responsibility. Over his long career, he has learned hard lessons and grown as a leader who can take positive action to unite and heal our country. It is unthinkable that he would ever utter the phrase “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
 
The next president will inherit a nation – and a world – in turmoil. The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us. Climate change continues unabated, as does North Korea’s nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America’s farmers and manufacturers. The next president will have to address those challenges while struggling with an economy in a deep recession and a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 of our fellow citizens. America, with 4% of the world’s population suffers with 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Only FDR and Abraham Lincoln came into office facing more monumental crises than the next president.
 
Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same.

Cuomo, Whitmer Call for Congressional Investigation into Trump Administration’s Politicization of Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are  calling for a Congressional oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s politicization of government functions that have impeded the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, releasing this joint statement:

“It is an inarguable fact that the United States has had the worst response to the COVID-19 virus of any nation in the world. Nearly 7 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 200,000 Americans have been killed by it — both more than any other country. The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of this tragedy is the direct result of President Trump and the federal government’s deceit, political self-dealing, and incompetence. 

“Rather than turning to the advice and direction of public health experts and career public servants, President Trump instead put the health and security of the American people in the hands of political appointees whose first priority was securing the reelection of their benefactor, with predictably tragic results. 

“Last week’s revelation that the White House blocked a Department of Health and Human Services plan to utilize the U.S. Postal Service to ship five life-saving masks to every household in the country, free of charge, in April was heartbreaking. Imagine the lives that could have been saved if every household were provided masks at such a crucial time. 

“Even more dangerous, the nation learned last week that political appointees at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — over the strong objection of CDC scientists — published the indefensible guidance that said people without symptoms did not need to get tested for COVID. Coupled with the agency’s abrupt reversal earlier this week on guidance related to the airborne transmission of the virus, it’s increasingly clear that the President and his advisers are trying to undermine the credibility of experts whose facts run counter to the administration’s political agenda.

“As a country, we cannot allow this type of politically-motivated decision making to take root. Logic dictates that COVID won’t be the last public health challenge we will face, and we can’t afford to again respond by playing politics, instead of listening to the science and facts. Congress must immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response to this pandemic, including the actions at HHS and the USPS the public learned about over the past week. Especially in light of Bob Woodward’s reporting, the question of, “What did they know and when did they know it?” cannot be left to the history books to answer. Our future health and economic security depends on holding the Trump administration accountable today.”

Cuomo commented, “Governor Whitmer and I today called on Congress to immediately conduct an oversight investigation into the Trump administration’s response on this pandemic. How can you not tell the American people what you knew and when you knew it? Just ask Peter Navarro. You had a memo that said millions of Americans would be infected. Did you tell anyone? Who did you send it to? Did anyone send you back the memo with a question mark? You met with the President 180 times since that memo – did you ever mention to the President, ‘By the way, I had a concern here that millions of Americans might be infected.’ It just doesn’t pass the smell test. It can’t be true.”

Biden Presents Plan to Combat COVID19: ‘I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump and the American people can’t either’

Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for president, presents his detailed plan to combat COVID-19 and save lives, that includes nationwide protocols for testing, tracing, wearing masks and social distancing, and the logistics for vaccinating everyone, free, when a vaccine becomes available:I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump and the American people can’t either’© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It’s ridiculous, almost humorous – if not so tragic – to hear Trump complaining that Biden hasn’t been able to issue a nationwide mandate to wear masks, when he is ostensibly the president (he says so, “I’m president. Can you believe it?” and “I can do anything I want. I’m president.”) but has failed to serve in the function while abusing the power. Trump could have used his power to require Domestic Production of protective equipment like masks, gowns, gloves, and the all-important ventilators, rather than give out massive no-bid contracts to companies like Kodak that had no experience, or have his son-in-law Jared Kushner use political operatives to take calls from grifters who claimed to be able to procure PPE, while dismissing the need to set up testing or send out equipment to Blue States, because, well, they vote Democratic and have Democratic leadership. Trump (an anti-vaxxer) has contradicted his own medical advisers, politicized the once vaunted CDC, FDA, NIH, thrown out nearly $1 trillion in Operation War Speed, all the while sowing such doubt in the efficacy or safety of any vaccine that would be rushed through testing. And yet, Trump, who disbanded the Obama-era pandemic office, pulled out of the World Health Organization and international efforts to produce a vaccine, has actually blamed Biden for failing to have stockpiled testing and vaccines against a virus that didn’t exist until more than three years into his reign. The Trump Campaign is now chiding and misrepresenting and frankly lying about Biden’s proposals and position on coronavirus and vaccines.

Trump, who is now listening only to those health “experts” like radiologist Scott Atlas who confirm his own conveniences, now is embracing the “herd immunity” (he called it “herd mentality in the ABC Town Hall) approach – essentially doing nothing, telling people not to wear masks or socially distance, so that as many as possible will become infected until so many are infected or dead, the virus has no place to go. Problem with that is you would need 225 million out of the 330 million population to get the infection, out of which as many as 6 million would die. But there is actually no proof that there is immunity from COVID-19, or that immunity after infection does not last more than a few months, or whether the virus mutates (like flu viruses) so that it becomes a new disease all over again.

Actual medical experts, including CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield:  “We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” he said. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” Dr. Redfield said as recently as this week, after Trump chided the use of masks, “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” Trump’s reaction? He rebuked Redfield, saying he had “made a mistake,” “misunderstood the question,” and had taken back his statement.

Estimates put the number of lives that could be saved between now and December- now forecast to be as high as 215,000 MORE deaths- at 100,000 and it is likely that had a nationwide mask order been imposed, 100,000 of the 200,000 who have already died could have been saved. About 1,000 Americans are dying each day.

And let’s be clear, New York State and the surrounding states became a hotspot because Trump’s intelligence network did not want to mention that the coronavirus was coming in from Europe. While everyone watched for the spread to come from the West Coast from China, 3 million people who came from infected areas of Europe had already come through New York’s airports. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo was left to figure out on his own how to contain the virus before it completely overwhelmed the health care system. Now, Trump wants to dismiss the numbers of COVID-19 dead in Blue States – apparently, dead people in Blue States don’t matter – to make the absurd argument that the rates of death in the United States are somehow on par with the rest of the world (not).

Here are Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, after a vaccine briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, in which he outlined his own plan to get control of the coronavirus, save lives and restore the economy: testing and tracing, national protocols for mask-wearing and social distancing, an actual plan to distribute the vaccine free.

“So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump — and the American people can’t either,” Biden said. 

“If I am elected president, I will begin implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office. That is what I discussed with the experts in the briefing today.
 
“It will include: a detailed timeline for when people will get the vaccine, a clear delineation of priority populations, the specific means and mechanisms of shipping and storage at appropriate temperatures, the division of responsibility at every level of government.
 
“And I will provide the leadership necessary to carry this plan out. I will level with the American people. I will take responsibility. I will support rather than tear down the experts responsible for day-to-day execution. I will follow the science.”

 – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

I just concluded an hour and a half long briefing with seven of our nation’s top public health experts on the state of the pandemic, the steps needed to curb the spread of the virus, and the challenge of distributing a safe and effective vaccine once we have identified one.
 
Before I turn to those issues, let me say a few words about the president’s comments last night.
 
Even after acknowledging to Bob Woodward on tape that he was fully informed on the gravity of the danger related to COVID-19. He refused to warn the American people. And again, last night, in a televised town hall, the President revealed in no uncertain terms the lack of seriousness with which he continues to take this pandemic.
 
Nearly eight months after this crisis on the doorstep of 200,000 American deaths, President Trump refused once again to take responsibility or to take action. 

By his own admission he continued to lie about COVID-19. He doubled down on his catastrophic mistakes.
 
And, perhaps worst of all — he made clear that he still doesn’t have a plan to bring us out of this crisis.
 
He even said that quote — “a lot of people think that masks are not good” — undercutting the easiest and most effective means we have for reducing the spread of this disease. [Asked “who thought that?” Trump said “waiters.”]
 
This virus is still taking nearly a thousand lives each day.
 
And forecasts show that the numbers are likely to climb this winter.
 
But, incredibly, President Trump insists that he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
 
Not one thing.
 
Last Friday, we learned that another one thousand Americans died due to this virus.
 
On the very same day, Canada reported that not one person died of COVID-19.
 
And Trump wouldn’t have done anything differently?
 
If you’re a parent in America, preparing for another day that you can’t send your child to school, if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, if your small business can’t open or you can’t go back to work because the virus is still spreading in your community, how does it make you feel to hear the President say he wouldn’t have done anything differently?
 
And if he gets four more years, why should we expect anything to change?
 
All President Trump had to offer last night was the same weak and feckless inaction — the same lies and empty promises — that we’ve seen from the very beginning.
 
He still won’t accept responsibility. He still won’t offer a plan.
 
Last night, he repeated what he has said so many times before: That even if he continues to offer only failing indifference some day, the virus will go away like a miracle.
 
It won’t go away like a miracle. The fact is, even if we get a vaccine, it will not be available to most of the population until well into next year. 
 
And we are heading into a dangerous autumn.
 
In fact, the University of Washington model — which the White House has previously touted — projects that cases and deaths are going to spike in November – and an additional 215,000 Americans will die by the end of the year. 
 
That’s more than have already died.
 
We need leadership right now to prevent that from happening. That same University of Washington model shows that if there is universal masking, we could cut those deaths by more than half. We could save more than 100,000 lives.
 
Even Donald Trump’s own director of the CDC told us that wearing a mask is the single most important step we can take to curb this virus. He said “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”


I spoke with the experts today about additional steps we can take to prevent needless deaths and suffering.
 
Uniform national guidance – and standards on social distancing – that can be applied to the particular circumstances of states and communities.
 
More effective approaches on testing and tracing.
 
If we do these things between now and January – we could save even more lives.
 
Last night, Donald Trump indicated he has no interest in doing these things. 
 
A president’s first responsibility is to protect the American people. 
 
And he won’t.
 
That is utterly disqualifying.
 
I also spoke with the experts about the paramount importance of preparing now for the swift, organized, and free distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
 
I am profoundly grateful to the scientists and researchers working tirelessly to ensure that
a safe and effective vaccine becomes a reality as soon as possible.
 
They carry the hopes of our entire nation and the entire world.
 
And when their work comes to fruition – and it will — they will no doubt save countless lives.
 
But scientific breakthroughs don’t care about calendars any more than the virus does.
 
They certainly don’t adhere to election cycles.
 
And their timing, their approval, and their distribution should never, ever be distorted by political considerations. They should be determined by science and safety alone.
 
A vaccine would offer a way back to normalcy and a path forward to better days for all of us.
 
It won’t happen overnight. It will take months to distribute it to the entire population.
 

But I’m more hopeful than ever in the power of science to get us there.
 
One thing is certain, we cannot allow politics to interfere with a vaccine in any way.
 
Americans have had to endure President Trump’s incompetence and dishonesty when it came to testing and personal protective equipment.
 
We cannot afford a repeat of those fiascos when it comes to a vaccine. The stakes are too high American families have already suffered and sacrificed far too much.
 
So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump — and the American people can’t either.
 
Last week, Senator Harris and I laid out three questions this Administration must answer —  to assure the American people that politics will play no role whatsoever in the vaccine process.
 
If Donald Trump can give honest answers to these questions — the American people should have the confidence and transparency they need to trust a vaccine and adopt it in numbers that make a difference.
 
First, what criteria will be used to ensure that a vaccine meets the scientific standard of safety and effectiveness?
 
Second, if the Administration greenlights a vaccine — who will validate that the decision was driven by science rather than politics?
 
Third, how can we be sure that the distribution of the vaccine will take place — safely, cost-free, and without a hint of favoritism?
 
The fact of the matter is developing a vaccine is only part of the battle.
 
Distributing a vaccine to the entire population is as complex and challenging as the most sensitive military operation.
 
I’ve been calling for an effective distribution plan for months.
 
If I am elected president, I will begin implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office. That is what I discussed with the experts in the briefing today.
 
It will include: a detailed timeline for when people will get the vaccine, a clear delineation of priority populations, the specific means and mechanisms of shipping and storage at appropriate temperatures, the division of responsibility at every level of government.
 
And I will provide the leadership necessary to carry this plan out. I will level with the American people. I will take responsibility. I will support rather than tear down the experts responsible for day-to-day execution. I will follow the science.
 
With satisfactory answers to the three questions I laid out — every American— including me and my family — can have confidence in a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
 
This isn’t about politics. It’s about saving lives.
 
It’s about getting back to our loved ones and our friends.
 
It’s about getting our economy back on its feet.
 
Getting back to the movie theater, to the restaurant, to the ballpark.
 
It’s about getting back to our lives — and getting America up off the mat.
 
We can, and we must, be united in that pursuit.
 
No matter when that breakthrough emerges — no matter when that hope bears fruit.
 
That’s America at our best.
 
Thank you.
 
God bless our scientists and researchers — and frontline workers.
 
And God protect our troops.
 
I’ll stop and take your questions.

NYS Governor Cuomo: ‘Trump is actively trying to kill New York City’

NY S Governor Andrew Cuomo: We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created…The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years…They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities. This is a war on cities: New York City, Portland, Chicago. These are the enemies from the president’s point of view.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo in his daily briefing in which noted that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has been below 1 percent for 32 straight days., laid out a searing attack on Donald Trump, charging that Trump is waging war on Democratic-lead cities.

“Trump is actively trying to kill New York City,” Cuomo declared. “It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City…

“We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created…

“The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.”

Cuomo put it into the context of Trump administration’s failure to take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which came into New York and the Northeast from Europe, not China, causing untold emotional and economic harm, and now doing everything possible to prevent the city and state from recovering economically.

Here are his highlighted remarks –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The good news is this: reopening is proceeding and our strategy is working. New Yorkers are doing a better job than any state in the United States of America— period— and I’m proud to be a New Yorker. The bad news is we have after-effects of COVID, social after-effects. We have economic issues. we have quality-of-life issues. We have increasing crime issues. We have habitability issues.  

I can’t tell you how many phone calls I get from people, especially in New York City, who are literally worried about the degradation of New York City— and much of it stems from the economic problems. And Washington is doing absolutely nothing. They’re going back and forth with gridlock. This was the last piece of legislation that they were supposed to pass to handle the aftermath of COVID and they haven’t done it. The Republican Senate doesn’t want to fund state and local governments and that’s the sticking point. Not to fund state and local governments, but to provide all the money that they did to businesses— but you’re not going to provide funding to state local governments, who basically support police, fire, hospitals and schools is just totally ludicrous to me. And it starts with the President.

There was a headline in the Daily News once: “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” and the city was outraged Ford wouldn’t provide financial resources. What Ford did pales in comparison to what Trump is doing; not only did he tell New York City to “drop dead,”

Trump is actively trying to kill New York City. It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City.

He passed SALT, which was targeted just at New York City tax reform; it cost us $14 billion.

He’s refused to fund the extension of the Second Avenue Subway from 96th to 125th Street. Every prior administration has funded the Second Avenue Subway. It is always been a federal-state partnership. Only this President, a former New Yorker, refuses to fund the Second Avenue Subway— even after we opened it up to 96th Street and did an amazing turn-around on the construction project that everybody celebrated.

He won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia. And you want to talk about really ironic, repugnant logic? You know why he won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia? He says he has to do an Environmental Review statement. The same President who has lamented about the delay of Environmental Reviews and how they take so long, and how they stop development and how bad the SEQRA is and how the environmentalists are all full of baloney when it comes to ANWAR. Now he says, “I can’t approve the AirTrain from LaGuardia that’s been talked about for decades because I have to do an Environmental Review. Now Trump, as the environmental bureaucrat. How incredible is that? 

He won’t approve congestion pricing for the MTA. What does he have to do with congestion pricing? Nothing! It is just gratuitous. It is just gratuitous. There is no federal involvement with congestion pricing. Their approval is purely technical and it’s been over a year— we passed it in New York State. He won’t approve it.

He won’t rebuild the tunnels between New York and New Jersey that are dangerous. They’re Amtrak tunnels. Do you know who owns Amtrak? Who owns Amtrak? The federal government owns Amtrak. They’re his tunnels. They’re decaying. I went to the tunnel; I took a video of water seeping into the tunnel. I took a video of bricks crumbling. I sent them the video. He watched the video. Still, no money to fund the Amtrak tunnels.

This weekend, they stopped FEMA funding from cleaning schools and trains. “We want students to go back; we want schools to reopen.” But you don’t want to clean the schools? Students should go back to a dirty school? Is that what you want your child to do? Gratuitous and arbitrary, and now no federal funds for New York City and New York State post-COVID.  

Donald Trump caused the COVID outbreak in New York. That is a fact. It’s a fact that he admitted and the CDC admitted and Fauci admitted. “The China Virus, the China Virus, the China Virus.” It was not the China Virus; it was the European Virus that came to New York. They missed it. They missed it. The China Virus went to Europe. It got on a plane and went to Europe. They never even thought of the possibility and then 3 million Europeans got on a plane and came to New York and they brought the virus. January: they brought the virus. February: they brought the virus. March: they brought the virus. And in mid-March, the federal government does a travel ban from Europe. Mid-March. Too little too late, Mr. President. He caused the COVID outbreak in New York. Donald Trump and his incompetent CDC and his incompetent NIH and his incompetent Department of Homeland Security.  

Department of Homeland Security- “We’re going to protect the people of this nation “We’re not going let the immigrants come across the southern border; we’re going to create a wall” Why didn’t you stop the virus? The virus killed many more Americans than anything you were worried about on the southern border. This nation loses more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. Do you hear that point?

We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created. That’s where we are.

The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.

This is a war on cities: New York City, Portland, Chicago. Right? These are the enemies from the president’s point of view. Look at his tweets. “These are the locations and the outposts of the enemies, so don’t provide them any funding even though we caused the COVID virus. It is an unsustainable position for the federal government.

Either this president will figure it out or the next president will figure it out. If Congress doesn’t figure it out, there will be mayhem in this country and there will be a different Congress in January. That is my political opinion. In the interim we have to be smart. We’ve gone through tough times before, New York, we had the fiscal crisis of the 70s; post 9/11 – I experienced it was a whole disruptive period – we went through the Great Recession, but we have to be smart we have to be smart we have to be financially smart and we’re going to have to come together and figure this out in the interim before we have a federal government that is sane and functional.  

The good news is, this is going to be a challenge, yes, but nothing like the challenge we just went through. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. I hope and pray. But compared to what we went through with COVID, dealing with the fiscal crisis is a mere bump and we’ll get through it, and we’ll get through it together because we’re New York Tough, Smart, United, Disciplined and most of all: Loving.

The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

As schools reopen and districts, local health departments, and labs begin reporting data to the NYS Dept. of Health, the COVID-19 Report Card will be live at: https://schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov/

Biden: ‘I want a safe America… Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline’

Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for president, spoke out against violence that has erupted out of peaceful protests against racial injustice and police brutality, which Donald Trump has stoked, inflamed, ignited seeing violence as the deflection to rising angst over his failure to contain COVID-19, which is killing 1,000 people a day, or improve the economic hardship most Americans are experiencing because of the public health crisis: “Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” Biden said.“I want a safe America – safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops. And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out against violence that has erupted out of peaceful protests against racial injustice and police brutality, which Donald Trump has stoked, inflamed, ignited seeing violence as the deflection to rising angst over his failure to contain COVID-19, which is killing 1,000 people a day, or improve the economic hardship most Americans are experiencing because of the public health crisis.

“Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?” Biden said.
 
“I want a safe America – safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.
 
“And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.
 
“I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunity for real progress on the issues of race and police reform and justice being put to the test.
 
“Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline.”

These  are Biden’s remarks, highlighted, delivered in Pittsburgh on Monday, August 31:

In the early days of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt told the country, “The news is going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better, and the American people deserve to have it straight from the shoulder.”
 
Straight from the shoulder: The job of a President is to tell the truth. To be candid. To face facts. To lead, not to incite. That’s why I am speaking to you today. The incumbent President is incapable of telling us the truth. Incapable of facing facts. Incapable of healing.
 
He doesn’t want to shed light. He wants to generate heat. He’s stoking violence in our cities. That is the tragic fact of the matter about this perilous hour in our nation. And now – we must stand against violence – in every form it takes.
The violence we’ve seen again and again and again of unwarranted police shootings and excessive force.
 
Seven bullets in the back of Jacob Blake. A knee on the neck of George Floyd. The killing of Breonna Taylor – in her own apartment.
 
The violence of extremists and opportunists – right-wing militias, white supremacists, vigilantes – who infiltrate protests carrying weapons of war, hoping to wreak havoc, and to derail any hope and support for progress.
 
The senseless violence of looting and burning and destruction of property.
 
I want to be clear about this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting.
 
None of this is protesting – it’s lawlessness – plain and simple.
 
And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change, only destruction. It’s wrong in every way. It divides instead of unites.
 
Destroying businesses only hurts hard working families that serve the community. It makes things worse, not better.
 
It is not what Dr. King or John Lewis taught. It must end.
 
The fires are burning – and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting them.
 
But we must not burn. We must build.
 
This president long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence – because for years he has fomented it.
 
He may believe mouthing the words law and order makes him strong, but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows you how weak he is.
 
Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?
 
We need justice in America. And we need safety in America.
 
We are facing multiple crises – crises that, under Donald Trump, keep multiplying.
 
COVID.
 
Economic devastation.
 
Unwarranted police violence.
 
Emboldened white nationalists.
 
A reckoning on race.
 
Declining faith in a bright American future.
 
The common thread?
 
An incumbent president who makes things worse, not better.
 
An incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order.
 
An incumbent president who fails in the basic duty of the job: to advance the truths that all of us are born with a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
 
That’s right: all of us.
 
The moms and dads in Scranton where I grew up – who have worked and scrapped for everything they’ve ever gotten in life.
 
The auto worker in Michigan – who still makes the best car in the world.
 
The single mom in Ohio working three jobs just to stay afloat – who will do anything for her child.
 
The retired veteran in Florida who gave everything he had to this country – and now just wants us to honor the promises we made to him.
 
The Lord and Taylor salesperson who just lost their job – the store closing after 194 years in business.
 
The nurses and doctors in Wisconsin who have seen so much sickness and so much death the past six months they wonder how much more they can take, but still they muster up the courage to take care of their patients in this pandemic and risk their lives.
 
The researcher in Minnesota who woke up this morning determined to find a breakthrough in treating cancer – who will do the same thing tomorrow and the day after and the day after – because she will never give up.
 
White, Black, Latino, Asian-American, Native American. Everybody.
 
I’m in this campaign for you, no matter your color, no matter your Zip Code. No matter your politics.

When I think about the presidency, I don’t think about myself.
 
This isn’t about my brand.
 
This is about you.
 
We can do better.
 
We must do better.
 
And I promise this: We will do better.
 
The road back begins now, in this campaign. You know me. You know my heart, and you know my story, my family’s story.
 
Ask yourself: Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?
 
I want a safe America – safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.
 
And let’s be crystal clear: Safe from four more years of Donald Trump.
 
I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunity for real progress on the issues of race and police reform and justice being put to the test.
 
Donald Trump looks at this violence and sees a political lifeline.
 
Having failed to protect this nation from a virus that has killed more than 180,000 Americans, Trump posts all cap tweets screaming Law and Order to save his campaign.
 
One of his closest political advisors in the White House doesn’t even bother to speak in code. She just comes out and says it: “The more chaos…and violence…the better it is” for Trump’s reelection.
 
Think about that.
 
This is a sitting President of the United States. He’s supposed to be protecting this country. But instead he’s rooting for chaos and violence.
 
The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now, he’s trying to scare America.
 
Since Donald Trump and Mike Pence can’t run on their record that has seen more American deaths to a virus than this nation suffered in every war since Korea combined…
 
Since they can’t run on their economy that has seen more people lose their jobs than at any time since the Great Depression…
 
Since they can’t run on the simple proposition of sending our children safely back to school…
 
And since they have no agenda or vision for a second term Trump and Pence are running on this:
 
“You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America”.
 
And what’s their proof? The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.
 
These are not images from some imagined “Joe Biden’s America” in the future.
 
These are images from Donald Trump’s America today.
 
He keeps telling you if only he was president it wouldn’t happen.
 
He keeps telling us if he was president you would feel safe.
 
Well – he is president. And it is happening. And you don’t.
 
And it’s getting worse. And we know why. Because Donald Trump adds fuel to every fire.
 
Because he refuses to even acknowledge there is a racial justice problem in America.
 
Because he won’t stand up to any form of violence.
 
He’s got no problem with the right-wing militias and white supremacists and vigilantes with assault weapons – often better armed than the police, often in the middle of the violence – at these protests.
 
And because tens of millions of Americans simply don’t trust this president to respect their rights, to hear their concerns, or to protect them.
 
It doesn’t have to be this way.
 
When President Obama and I were in the White House, and had to defend federal property,
you didn’t see us whipping up fears around the deployment of secret federal troops.
 
We just did our job. And the federal property was protected.
 
When President Obama and I were in office, we didn’t look at cities as Democratic- or Republican-run. These are American cities.
 
But Trump doesn’t see himself as a president for all of America.
 
Frankly, I believe if I were president today, the country would be safer and we would be seeing less violence. And here’s why.
 
I have said we must address the issue of racial injustice.
I have personally spoken to George Floyd’s family and Jacob Blake’s family. I know their pain, I know the justice they seek. They have told us none of this violence respects or honors George or Jacob.
 
I believe I can bring those fighting for racial justice to the table. I have worked with the police in this country for over forty years. I know most cops are good and decent people. I know the risk they take every day with their lives. And I am confident I can bring the police to the table.
 
I would make sure every mayor and governor had the support they needed from the federal government – but I wouldn’t be looking to use the United States military against our own people.
 
If I were president, my language would be less divisive. I would be looking to lower the temperature in the country – not raise it. And I would be looking to unite the nation.
 
But, look, if Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as President? Let’s answer it.
 
First, some simple facts.
 
When I was Vice President, violent crime fell 15% in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder. And yes we did it with Democrats as mayors of most big cities in this country.
 
The murder rate is up 26% in cities across the nation this year under Donald Trump.
 
Do you feel really safer under Trump?
 
COVID has taken more lives this year than any outbreak in more than 100 years. More than 180,000 lives in just six months. An average of 1,000 people dying every day in the month of August.
 
Do you feel really safer under Trump?
 
Mr. Trump – you want to talk about fear? Do you know what people are afraid of in America?
 
They’re afraid they’re going to get COVID. They’re afraid they’re going to get sick and die. And that in no small part is because of you.
 
We are now on track for more than 200,000 deaths in this country due to COVID.
 
More than 100,000 seniors have lost their life to the virus. More cops have died from COVID this year than have been killed on patrol. Nearly one in six small businesses is closed in this country today.
 
Do you really feel safer under Trump?
 
What about Trump’s plan to destroy the Affordable Care Act – and with it the protections for pre-existing conditions. That impacts more than 100 million Americans.
 
Does that make you feel safer?
 
Or how about Trump’s plan to defund Social Security.
 
The Social Security Administration’s chief actuary just released a report saying if a plan like the one Trump is proposing goes into effect, the Social Security Trust Fund would be, quote, “permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023, with no ability to pay benefits thereafter.” To put it plainly, Social Security would be wiped out.
 
Feel safer now?
 
And the fear that reigns under this president doesn’t stop at our shores.
 
The Kremlin has put bounties on the heads of American soldiers.
 
And instead of telling Vladimir Putin that there will be a heavy price to pay if they dare touch an American soldier – this president doesn’t even bring up the subject in a phone call.
 
Russian forces just attacked American troops in Syria, injuring our service members. The president didn’t say a word. He didn’t lift a finger.
 
Never before has an American president played such a subservient role to a Russian leader.
 
It’s not only dangerous – it’s an embarrassment.
 
Not even America’s troops can feel safer under Trump.
 
Donald Trump’s role as a bystander in his own presidency extends to the economic pain being felt by millions of Americans.
 
He said this weekend, “You better vote for me or you are going to have the greatest depression you’ve ever seen.”
 
Does he not see the tens of millions who had to file for unemployment this year? The folks who won’t be able to make next month’s rent? The folks who lost wages while the cost of food staples rose dramatically?
 
Barack Obama and I stopped a depression in 2009. We took a bad economy and turned it around.
 
Donald Trump took a good economy and drove it into the ditch. Through his failure to get COVID under control, his failure to pull together the leaders in Congress, his failure to deliver real relief for working people — has made our country’s economic situation so much worse than it had to be.
 
When we talk about safety, and security, we should also talk about the basic security of being able to look your kid in the eye and tell them everything is going to be okay. We won’t lose our home. We’ll be able to put food on the table.
 
I’ve laid out an agenda for economic recovery that will restore a sense of security for working families. And we won’t just build things back the way they were before. We’re going to build back better.
 
With good-paying jobs building our nation’s roads, bridges, solar arrays and windmills. With investments in our health care and child care workers so they get the pay and dignity they deserve, while easing the financial burdens for millions of families. With a clean energy strategy that has a place for the energy workers right here in western Pennsylvania. I’m not for banning fracking. Let’s say that again. I’m not for banning fracking – no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me.
 
The future. That’s what this is all about.
 
We all hear Donald Trump’s self-centered rants and riffs, but the voice America should hear is Julia Jackson’s – the mother of Jacob Blake.
 
Hers is a voice of courage and character and wisdom.
 
In looking at the damage that had been done in her city she said, “the violence and destruction” didn’t “reflect my son or my family.”
 
These are the words of a mother whose son had just been shot seven times in front of his children. Badly injured. Paralyzed, perhaps permanently.
 
And even as she seeks justice for her son – she is pleading for an end to the violence – and for this nation to heal.
 
She said she was praying for her son. She said she was praying for all police officers. She said she had already been praying for America, even before her son was shot.
 
She asked us all to examine our hearts – citizens, elected officials, the police – all of us.
 
And then she said this, “We need healing.”
 
More than anything, that is what we need to do as a nation:
We need to heal.
 
The current president wants you to live in fear. He advertises himself as a figure of order.
 
He isn’t. He is not part of the solution. He is part of the problem. The biggest part.
 
A problem that I, as President, will give my all to resolve.
 
I will deal with the virus. I will deal with the economic crisis. I will work to bring equity and opportunity to all.
 
We have arrived at the moment in this campaign that we all knew we would get to. The moment when Donald Trump would be so desperate, he would do anything to hold on to power.
 
Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years.
 
Poisoning how we talk to one another. Poisoning how we treat one another. Poisoning the values this nation has always held dear. Poisoning to our democracy.
 
Now – in just a little over 60 days – we have a decision to make:
 
Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our national character?
 
As Americans we believe in Honesty and Decency. Treating everyone with dignity and respect. Giving everyone a fair shot. Leaving no one behind. Giving hate no safe harbor. Demonizing no one. Being part of something bigger than ourselves.
 
Donald Trump doesn’t believe in any of that.
 
America is an idea.
 
It is the most powerful idea in the history of the world – and it beats in the hearts of the people of this country:
 
All men and women are created equal – and they deserve to be treated equally.
 
Trump has sought to remake this nation in his image – selfish, angry, dark, divisive.
 
That is not who we are.
 
At her best, America has always been – and if I have anything to do with it – always will be a generous, confident, optimistic nation.
 
Donald Trump is determined to instill fear in America – that is what his entire campaign for presidency has come down to.
 
Fear.
 
But I believe Americans are stronger than that.
 
I believe we will be guided by the words of Pope John Paul II. Words drawn from Scripture: “Be not afraid”.
 
Fear never builds the future. Hope does. And building the future is what America does.
 
In fact, it’s what we do best.
 
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we haven’t been able to do, when we’ve done it together.
 
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God protect our troops.

Biden: Trump’s 152 Covid-19 Lies & Counting, Causing Loss of Lives, Livehoods

Refrigerator truck serves as mobile morgue outside New York City hospital in March 2020. Biden cites 152 lies (and counting) Trump has made about the coronavirus pandemic, and faults Trump for US having 25 percent of the COVID-19 cases and deaths, and deeper, longer economic collapse than other Industrialized nations. The coronavirus has already hit over 5 million Americans, killed nearly 170,000, and put 36 million out of work © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT REPORT

TO:              Interested Parties
FROM:       Kate Bedingfield, Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director
RE:              President Trump’s Coronavirus Lies: 152 and Counting
DATE:        August 14, 2020

 
As Vice President Biden has said many times, the American people can face any challenge if you simply tell them the truth, but from the very beginning of this crisis President Trump has refused to be honest with the American people about the scope of the challenge that we face with COVID-19, or the steps needed to stop it, save lives, and get our country back to work.
 
Simply put, Trump has regularly lied to the American people on matters of life-and-death. This report details over 150 instances of Trump’s misleading claims or outright mistruths. There are undoubtedly more. As our country crosses the grim milestone of five million coronavirus cases, it shows the clear cost to the American people of his dishonesty.
 
From the outset, President Trump has lied by downplaying the threat posed by COVID-19, claiming that “one day, like a miracle, it will disappear” — repeating Chinese Communist Party propaganda about the virus instead of listening to the warnings being raised by our government’s leading public health experts and the intelligence community. Many months later, Trump has repeatedly returned to this same lie even as cases spike and America faces the worst outbreak among any advanced economy .
 
Trump has lied by attacking the medical experts who should be guiding our response — launching personal attacks at Dr. Fauci, twisting the advice being provided by the top public health experts in America, and constantly undermining guidance from them on the steps we must take to get COVID-19 under control. Unfortunately for Trump, poll after poll shows that the American people overwhelmingly trust the experts like Dr. Fauci over him.
 
Similarly, President Trump has misled the American people by hawking unproven, and possibly dangerous, treatments for the coronavirus even as he spent months dismissing and even attacking common sense steps to slow the spread of the virus, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
 
We can, and we must, do better than Donald Trump’s lies if we want to stop COVID-19. At every step of this crisis, Trump’s failed leadership has produced tragic results, with more than 160,000 Americans dead, over five million infected, and our economy reeling from the biggest contraction in recorded history.
 
To beat this virus, we need a President who will level with the American people and tell them the truth about the challenges we face, and how to overcome them. Vice President Biden knows that if we’re going to beat this virus, we need to be honest with the American people — we need a President who leads by example, not someone who shirks responsibility and lies constantly in an attempt to cover up for his own failures.
 
That’s why Vice President Biden has laid out a bold plan to combat this virus — starting by listening to the experts, telling the truth about what it will take to overcome this scourge, and then mobilizing our country to get it done. That’s how we’ve always come together as one America, united in common purpose, to face the greatest challenges that have faced our nation, and that’s exactly how we’re going to beat COVID-19.
 
TRUMP’S COVID-19 LIES:
 
A. Minimizing the Threat of the Virus:

  1. Trump claimed that the threat of coronavirus to the U.S. was a Democrat political hoax.
  2. Trump repeatedly undersold the threat of the virus and claimed his administration was “ahead” of it.
  3. Trump claimed the media was exaggerating the threat of coronavirus.
  4. Trump repeatedly claimed that the virus would simply “go away.”
  5. Trump claimed that warmer weather weakens the virus, and that it would go away by April, based on information given to him by President Xi.
  6. In mid-April, Trump claimed that some states did not have “any problem” with coronavirus.
  7. In July, Trump claimed that “large portions” of the U.S. are “corona-free.”
  8. Trump repeatedly implied the virus was no more serious than the seasonal flu.
  9. Trump baselessly asserted that the coronavirus mortality rate calculated by the WHO is incorrect.
  10. Trump claimed that the virus is 99% harmless.
  11. In mid-June, Trump claimed that the virus was “dying out” and “leaving.”
  12. Trump has downplayed recent surges as “flames” that could easily be “put out.”
  13. Trump has repeatedly understated the crisis in Florida. 
  14. Trump implies that the virus does not harm young people and that children are “virtually immune.”
  15. Trump said that coronavirus could be referred to as simply “a flu” or “a germ,” and that no one really knows what to call it.
  16. Trump claimed that one of the COVID-19 death projections did not account for mitigation measures, like social distancing.
  17. Trump tried to differentiate the Spanish influenza from the current pandemic by claiming that the mortality rate among those infected was 50%.
  18. Trump claimed that health experts, including Dr. Fauci, said coronavirus was not a problem in February.
  19. Trump claimed that “nobody knew anything” about the virus in January.
  20. Trump claimed, in early March, that the virus had only hit three weeks ago.
  21. In April, Trump claimed, “you may not even have corona coming back” in a second wave.

B. Trump’s Response to Virus:
General:

  1. Trump claimed that no one could have predicted that the United States would face a pandemic because of coronavirus.
  2. Trump lied about and exaggerated the efficacy of his administration’s response, claiming that they had done a “great” job at containing and combating the virus.
  3. Trump repeatedly claimed that the virus was “under control.”
  4. Trump claims that the United States’ response to the virus has been the most aggressive in the world. 
  5. Trump baselessly claims that he has been “right” about coronavirus more than anyone else, including public health experts.
  6. Trump misleadingly cited a Gallup poll to exaggerate the approval ratings of his administration’s response to Coronavirus.
  7. Trump claimed that the public’s approval rating of his response to the virus was higher than the approval of the Obama administration’s handling of H1N1.

China Travel Restrictions:

  1. On at least 40 occasions, Trump claimed he had imposed an outright “ban” on travel from China and “closed the borders” against the advice of experts, which he has claimed saved “thousands,” “hundreds of thousands,” and even “millions” of lives.
  2. Trump claimed he was the first to restrict travel to and from China. He was particularly adamant that Italy and other European countries had not limited travel to and from China, which led to their high number of coronavirus cases.
  3. Trump claimed that everyone, including public health experts, disagreed with his decision to implement restrictions from China.

Europe Travel Restrictions:

  1. Trump claimed at least 20 times to have banned travel from Europe, and claimed that all U.S. citizens travelling from Europe would be subject to screening, testing, and quarantine if necessary.
  2. Trump claimed to have barred travel to Italy prior to his March 11 ban on travel to all of Europe.
  3. Trump claims that cases are also surging in European countries because of their extended lock-down orders.

U.S. Borders:

  1. Trump claimed the U.S. had some troops on the U.S.-Canadian Border.
  2. Trump claims that without more stringent patrol of the U.S.-Mexico border, the border would have become the “global epicenter of the viral transmission.”

Dr. Fauci:

  1. Trump attempts to undermine Dr. Fauci’s credibility with false claims about Fauci’s past recommendations.
  2. Trump claims he has a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci and has distanced himself from his administration’s attempts to discredit Dr. Fauci.

Other Claims:

  1. Trump claimed states did not need federal assistance to acquire medical supplies and personal protective equipment and that they were fully stocked.
  2. Trump claimed in April that he hadn’t left the White House in “months.”
  3. Trump repeatedly claimed to have fully invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), which enables the federal government to order private industry to produce specific items like testing and PPE when he had not actually done so.

C. Testing Capacities:
Nature of Tests:

  1. Trump claimed multiple times that testing was readily available for anyone who wanted one.
  2. Trump has repeatedly claimed that U.S. testing is “perfect” and the “best in the world.”
  3. Trump later admitted that there were some issues with the initial coronavirus test, but claimed it took “about a week” to solve.
  4. Trump claimed that testing was “overrated.” and that “testing isn’t necessary.”
  5. Trump said past administrations were to blame for his administration’s delays in developing and deploying coronavirus tests.

Number of Tests:

  1. Trump has continuously claimed that the United States is “number one” in testing, or has the “best testing.”
  2. In March, Trump claimed that the U.S. had done more testing than any other nation, including South Korea.
  3. By April, Trump escalated his previous lie and claimed that the U.S. had completed more coronavirus tests than the rest of the world (or all other “major” countries) combined. He has made some version of this claim at least 13 times.
  4. Trump said the U.S. would not “need anywhere near” 5 million tests.
  5. Trump said in late April that we would reach 5 million tests conducted per day “very soon.”
  6. Trump claimed that the federal government was providing more testing capacities than Governors needed.
  7. Trump baselessly claimed the report by the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, which detailed complaints from hospitals regarding wait times and shortages of testing supplies, was “wrong” and politically motivated.
  8. Trump exaggerated the number of tests that the U.S. had completed. 

Number of Cases:

  1. Throughout the spring, Trump claimed the U.S. had reached its peak in cases and was “heading down.”
  2. Trump claims that we only have the highest number of coronavirus cases globally because we were doing the most testing in the world.
  3. Trump has repeatedly claimed that coronavirus cases only surged in June because of increased testing.
  4. When forced to admit that the increase in cases is not exclusively a result of more testing, Trump claims that most of the cases are harmless.

Testing and the Private Sector:

  1. Trump claimed that Google had engineered a website that helped Americans decide whether they need testing, and where they could obtain it.
  2. Trump claimed testing was available and provided to passengers on trains and planes.
  3. In May, Trump said workers returning to their jobs “should have no problem” obtaining a coronavirus test.

D. Coronavirus Deaths and Mortality Rates:

  1. On April 10, Trump said that the final number of U.S. deaths could be as few as 55,000.
  2. In mid-April, Trump predicted that the total number of casualties would be around 50,000 – 60,000.
  3. In late April, Trump predicted that the total number of casualties would be around 60,000 – 70,000.
  4. On May 1, Trump estimated that the total number of coronavirus deaths would be under 100,000.
  5. Trump misleadingly compared the coronavirus deaths with the projected number of deaths, absent any mitigation.
  6. Trump claimed that the U.S. coronavirus mortality rate is one of the best in the world.
  7. Trump claims that the death rate is a better indicator than new cases.
  8. Trump claimed in mid-July the death rate from coronavirus was “down tenfold.”

E. Personal Protective Equipment:
General:

  1. Trump claimed that hospitals were artificially inflating their need for equipment.
  2. Trump claimed that no one could have predicted that the country would ever need tens of thousands of ventilators.

States and Personal Protective Equipment:

  1. Trump claimed that, by mid-April, there was no demand for ventilators.
  2. Trump seemed to endorse Jared Kushner’s claim that the Strategic National Stockpile was the federal government’s, and was not intended to be shared with the states.
  3. Trump claimed that NY state had rejected recommendations to buy 16,000 ventilators at a cheap price in 2015, and NY state had established lotteries and death panels in response to the virus.
  4. Trump claimed that NY State asked for more ventilators without realizing that eight thousand had already been delivered to the state.
  5. Trump claimed to have never said that governors were asking for equipment they did not need.
  6. Trump claims he did not threaten to limit help to governors who “did not treat him right.”
  7. Trump claimed that the federal government was providing states with all the materials they need.
  8. Trump claimed that Governor Cuomo sent sick patients back to nursing homes when they could have been treated on the USNS Comfort.

Private Sector Involvement:

  1. Trump claimed that automotive companies were producing ventilators, per his orders, by mid-March. 

F. Treatments and Vaccines:
Vaccine:

  1. Trump repeatedly claimed a vaccine would be available “soon.”
  2. Trump said the virus would go away without a vaccine.

Hydroxychloroquine:

  1. Trump repeatedly said that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was proven effective in treating coronavirus.
  2. Trump repeatedly said that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is safe to use to treat COVID-19.
  3. Trump denounced a report conducted at Veterans Administration hospitals, which found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine helped people, and in fact may increase likelihood of death. He also claimed it was the only study that undercut his claims regarding the drug.

Other Treatment-Related Lies:

  1. Trump says he is “all for masks.”
  2. Trump rejects the idea that widespread mask usage would successfully prevent the spread of the virus and claims that masks can actually cause problems and are a “double-edged sword.”
  3. Trump later undersells the value of wearing masks, only tepidly endorsing their use.
  4. Trump claims that governors “go by the CDC guidelines” regarding masks.
  5. Trump said that he was being sarcastic when he asked medical experts to look into viability of injecting disinfectants to treat virus, that he had only asked medical experts to look into whether or not the sun could treat the virus, and that he was only talking about using disinfectants on hands, not to ingest.
  6. Trump retweeted a conspiracy video that claimed that neither masks nor shutdowns were necessary to combat coronavirus, and that hydroxychloroquine is the cure for coronavirus, and later endorsed the video and said the video makers were “respected” doctors.
  7. Trump claims that he had not been asking Dr. Birx questions about the impact of sunlight and heat, but was instead speaking to the laboratory expert about sunlight.

G. Other China-Related Lies:

  1. Trump claimed that, although the virus spread out of China, China contained it to  Wuhan.
  2. Trump exaggerated Tim Cook’s statement that Apple production plants in China were “back to normal” at the end of February.

H. World Health Organization:

  1. Trump claimed he never threatened to freeze WHO funding, just minutes after having made the threat.
  2. Trump claimed that the WHO ignored the spread of the virus in Wuhan.

I. Blaming Democrats, the Obama Administration, and Vice President Biden:
Obama Administration:

  1. Trump claimed that the Obama administration had implemented a rule on testing that limited the FDA’s capacity to test.
  2. Trump has repeatedly claimed that he inherited a flawed COVID-19 test from the Obama administration.
  3. Trump claimed that the Obama administration left no medical supplies or ventilators in the national stockpile.
  4. Trump claims that the Obama administration stopped testing for H1N1 because they did not want to increase the number of cases.

Vice President Biden:

  1. Trump claimed that the Obama Administration’s response – and Vice President Biden’s response in particular – to H1N1 was a huge disaster.
  2. Trump claimed that Vice President Biden had apologized to him for calling him Xenophobic. Trump claimed this apology took place on a Friday evening, when it wouldn’t generate any coverage.
  3. Trump claimed that a Biden aide had made up a prediction that Trump would try to delay November’s election.
  4. Trump baselessly claims that listening to Vice President Biden would have resulted in hundreds of thousands more deaths.

Democrats:

  1. Trump claimed criticism regarding testing was a partisan attack, and felt it was a “personal attack.”
  2. Trump repeatedly claims that the Democrat policy of open borders caused coronavirus.
  3. Trump later revised this claim, baselessly stating that if the Democrats had their way and opened borders, border states would be the global epicenter of the virus.
  4. Trump later claimed that Democrats did not take the virus seriously in February and March.
  5. Trump has made various false claims about Pelosi’s visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown, and then claimed that she deleted her tweet about her visit to Chinatown.
  6. Trump claims that Democrats are the ones opposing “payments” to Americans and that he supported larger payments than Democrats.

J. Pandemic and the Media:

  1. Trump claims that the media has been unfair to him and misrepresented how his administration has handled the crisis.
  2. Trump claims that the media has unfairly focused on the number of coronavirus cases, rather than the mortality rate.
  3. Trump claimed “unknown sources” cited by the New York Times and Post were made up.
  4. Trump claimed the media did not call to ask for a comment before publishing stories regarding Alex Azar.
  5. Trump denounced the media for reporting that he and Jay Inslee had clashed on the phone or that Jay Isnlee had told him the federal government needed to step up (“We need Tom Brady”). Trump claimed that the comment was meant positively.
  6. Trump claimed a New York Times correspondent, Michael Grynbaum, had written a positive article about him.

K. The Lockdown:
General:

  1. Trump repeatedly exaggerated how quickly the country could “open up.”
  2. Trump claims that the country has reopened “safely” and will remain “open.”
  3. Trump claimed that the states that did not have stay-at-home orders were “not in jeopardy.”
  4. Trump claimed that the President has the power to decide whether or not to open up states.
  5. Trump claimed that continued economic shutdown would result in greater number of deaths, by suicide, than Coronavirus would cause.
  6. Trump claimed that Dr. Birx had not discouraged Americans from having dinner or cocktail parties, and was simply referring to certain states.
  7. Trump claimed that anti-lockdown protests socially distanced, and that protestors were six feet apart.
  8. Trump claims that Democrats only want to reimpose shutdowns to hurt Trump’s election chances.
  9. Trump claims that states with Democratic governors are prohibiting him from holding rallies for political reasons.
  10. Trump claimed people were getting arrested for listening to church services in their cars.

Schools:

  1. Trump has claimed that people are opposing school reopening for political reasons.
  2. Trump claims that “everyone” is in favor of opening schools.
  3. Trump claims that we can safely reopen all schools.
  4. Trump claims that keeping schools shut would be more dangerous for families.
  5. Trump claimed that Vice President Biden does not want to open schools.
  6. Trump attempts to discredit the CDC’s recommendations for school re-openings.

L. The Economy:
General:

  1. Trump baselessly muses that “maybe” the coronavirus improved U.S. jobs numbers.
  2. Trump baselessly claims that the economy will be even stronger than it was prior to the virus.
  3. Trump claims that, prior to the virus, he was paying off the national debt.
  4. In early June, Trump claimed the economy was “rocking and rolling.”
  5. In early July, Trump claimed the economy is “roaring back to life” like “nobody has even seen before.”
  6. Trump claimed that he would exempt farmworkers from restrictions on immigration, because in previous instances when the border was closed, all farmers went out of business.
  7. Trump understates coronavirus’ catastrophic impact on small businesses.

Coronavirus Relief Act:

  1. Trump said that the Paycheck Protection Program had been administered seamlessly.
  2. Trump claimed that he was the first President to provide paid sick leave for American workers.
  3. Trump denied that Wells Fargo had stopped taking small business loan applications.

M. Lies about Voting and Elections:

  1. Trump claims mail-in voting enables “massive” voter fraud.
  2. Trump says that Americans can safely vote in person this November.
  3. Trump claims that absentee ballots are safer than mail-in ballots.

N. Other:

  1. Trump floats the idea of postponing the election to protect against fraudulent election results, saying it could take “years” to determine results of election.
  2. Trump claimed that Captain Crozier had sent the letter regarding the outbreak on the USS Roosevelt  to 28 people.
  3. Trump claimed that the outbreak on the USS Roosevelt resulted in 540 people testing positive.
  4. Trump blamed Captain Crozier for stopping in Vietnam during the pandemic, implying that this was the reason for the outbreak on ship.
  5. Trump exaggerates the number of people on the Grand Princess cruise, saying there were close to 5,000 people aboard.
  6. Trump blames Black Lives Matter protests for the increase in cases.
  7. Trump blames Mexico for the spike in coronavirus cases.

Biden Reacts to Trump COVID Relief Executive Orders: ‘Unable to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis, Donald Trump offered a series of half-baked measures’

Vice President Joe Biden reacted to Trump’s COVID Relief Executive Orders, saying “Unable to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis, Donald Trump offered a series of half-baked measures.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On Saturday, August 8, Trump signed four Executive Orders intended to substitute for Congressional Republicans compromising with Democrats on a relief package against the health and economic ravages of the coronavirus pandemic. In a vitriolic speech, delivered to a mini-rally assembled from among his Bedminister golf course members, he attacked the Democrats’ plan, threatened a stock market crash should Joe Biden become president, and promised to end the payroll tax (which funds Social Security) should he be elected.

Indeed, Trump delivered this campaign promise: to reduce income taxes and capital gains taxes (in order to goose the stock market), in effect robbing the US Treasury which is already over $25 trillion in debt with trillions added because of the 2017 GOP tax cuts and the trillions spent on COVID relief, much of it going to the wealthiest and best connected. Instead of providing aid to states and localities which have been devastated by depleted revenues and run-up in costs to address COVID-19, he put more of the burden on states to come up with his faux employment benefits (it requires 25% to be paid by states). Instead of funding election protection and the post office, he accused Democrats of stealing the election.

“The massive taxpayer bailout of badly run blue states we talked about — that’s one of the things they’re looking to do.  Measures designed to increase voter fraud,” he told his adoring audience. 

“You know what it’s about?  Fraud.  That’s what they want: fraud.  They want to try and steal this election because, frankly, it’s the only way they can win the election.  

“The bill also requires all states to do universal mail-in balloting — which nobody is — nobody is prepared for — regardless of whether or not they have the infrastructure.  They want to steal an election.  That’s all this is all about: They want to steal the election.”

Trump couldn’t resist attacking proposals for a Green New Deal:  “And they want to do the Green New Deal, which will decimate our country and decimate — it’s ridiculous, too.  It’s childish.  I actually say the Green New Deal is childish.  It’s for children.  It’s not for adults.”

And when asked what happens if the states can’t pony up the 25% to continue the $400 (not $600) unemployment benefits (the 75% that the federal government would spend would be coming from the states’ share of the CARES Act funding), he said,  “Well, if they don’t, they don’t… So I don’t think their people will be too happy.”

As for the reduction in unemployment benefits, Trump said, “this gives them a great incentive to go back to work.”

Questioned about the constitutionality of going around Congress, which has the sole “power of the purse,” Trump said, “This will go very [fast]– if — if we get sued.  Maybe we won’t get sued.  If we get sued, it’s somebody that doesn’t want people to get money.  Okay?  And that’s not going to be a very popular thing. “

Pressed whether a President should go around Congress  “ and decide how money is collected and spent?” Trump retorted, “You ever hear the word ‘obstruction’? “yes,” the reporter replied. “You were investigated for that.” 

Trump then replied, “They’ve obstructed.  Congress has obstructed.  The Democrats have obstructed people from getting desperately needed money.”  

“But this is in the Constitution, Mr. President,” the reporter insisted.
Asked why he keeps taking credit for Veterans Choice, which was passed in 2014 by the Obama Administration, Trump abruptly ended the press conference.

In reaction to Trump’s executive orders, Vice President Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic nominee for President, issued this statement: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Unable to deliver for the American people in a time of crisis, Donald Trump offered a series of half-baked measures today. He is putting Social Security at grave risk at a time when seniors are suffering the overwhelming impact of a pandemic he has failed to get under control. And make no mistake: Donald Trump said today that if he is re-elected, he will defund Social Security.

For months, Trump has golfed rather than negotiated, and sown division rather than pull people together to get a package passed. Now, instead of staying in Washington and working with Republicans and Democrats to reach a bipartisan deal, President Trump is at his golf club in New Jersey signing a series of dubious executive orders.

This is no art of the deal. This is not presidential leadership. These orders are not real solutions. They are just another cynical ploy designed to deflect responsibility. Some measures do far more harm than good.

One order is Donald Trump’s first shot in a new, reckless war on Social Security. Trump announced a payroll tax plan with no protections or guarantees — like the ones the Obama-Biden administration enforced a decade ago — that the Social Security Trust Fund will be made whole. And, Trump specifically stated today that if re-elected, he plans to undermine the entire financial footing of Social Security. He is laying out his roadmap to cutting Social Security. Our seniors and millions of Americans with disabilities are under enough stress without Trump putting their hard-earned Social Security benefits in doubt.

Another order brings cuts, chaos, and confusion to our system of unemployment insurance. Trump is unilaterally reducing the amount laid-off workers could receive. And he purports to provide these benefits until the end of the year, but only identifies enough funding to make it a handful of weeks. Even with that limited funding, Trump is basically playing a cruel game of robbing Peter to pay Paul: He is taking billions of dollars of federal natural disaster funding away so it won’t be available to states like Florida. And, he is forcing states to choose between imposing benefit cuts for unemployed workers or slashing funds for public schools, health workers, and first responders. 

A third order, on evictions, is woefully inadequate to deal with the emerging housing crisis. He is leaving our nation’s renters with ever-mounting debt and leaving our small family landlords badly squeezed. Without a comprehensive plan to help our American families make rent, they will leave this crisis months behind on their payments while many landlords teeter on the verge of bankruptcy. 

And a fourth order is a band-aid approach to student debt that leaves out 7 million borrowers who obtained their federal loans from private lenders or their college rather than the Department. The economic strain on these Americans is deep and unrelenting.

There is a solution to all of this pain and suffering. A real leader would go back to Washington, call together the leaders of the House and Senate, and negotiate a deal that delivers real relief to Americans who are struggling in this pandemic. We need a president who understands their struggle and believes in their courage to overcome. 

$877 Billion Arts Industry Appeals for Federal Financial Relief from COVID-19: ‘Dear Senators, Be An Arts Hero’

Broadway theater has been shuttered by coronavirus pandemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Congress contemplates another round of COVID-19 relief, one massive part of the economy is consistently overlooked, yet has proved so vital in bolstering quality of life during this unprecedented public health emergency in which people must be distanced and isolated: the arts. Shutting down theaters, performance spaces, concerts, exhibitions, museums, galleries and cultural spaces has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs, their careers. Many of these institutions are non-profits, which routinely struggle for financial resources. Now, the industry has created Be An Arts Hero (beanartshero.com), to lobby for support using the same arguments as other industries that are getting more attention: hospitality, airlines, cruiselines, restaurants. This is a “Dear Senators” letter:

The $877 billion our industry generated last fiscal year is about to disappear. The 4.5% we added to our GDP—about to vaporize. We are second only to Retail as the most powerful economic driver of this economy, boasting an export of $72.6 billion and an annual growth rate of 4.16% , nearly double that of the U.S. economy as a whole at 2.2%. Without your immediate action for financial relief by August 1, we will collapse, and the result will be an economic cataclysm.  

We are the Arts Economy. We are everywhere. And our fates are tied together. 

We are over 675,000 small businesses and organizations in every town, city, and state, employing 5.1 million hard-working Americans who are now desperately struggling to stay above water. Our influence reaches across every sector because the Arts Economy is a jobs multiplier, creating millions of sustainable jobs in collateral arts-adjacent economies. In short, our institutions of Arts and Culture anchor communities, producing highly interdependent commercial ecosystems that depend on rank-and-file Arts Workers who increase tax revenue, real estate value, and attract businesses, large and small. These are the dominoes. If you lose us, we lose the economy. We need your help. 

We are Florida’s largest job creator at 260,999 jobs, bringing in $36,937,050,840 (3.7%) to Florida’s state revenue. America’s favorite theme park which was built by union carpenters and construction workers, now runs on the working-class labor of the administrative staff who operate the day-to-day; the engineers who make it move; the electricians who keep it bright; the painters and pyro-technicians who explode it with color; the custodians who keep it clean; and the actors, dancers, and musicians who bring it to life. We need your help. 

We are New York City’s main economic driver: in 2019, Broadway sold more tickets than all the NY and NJ sports teams combined, creating a revenue of $1.83 Billion in ticket sales, generating even more in Arts-adjacent businesses. On any night out, our audiences take public transportation, taxis, and Ubers/Lyfts; pay for childcare; go shopping; and by record numbers, they go to restaurants which employ kitchen staff, waiters, and bussers who rely on food delivery trucks whose companies purchase goods from farmers, who are now mass killing their livestock and burning their crops because their industry is crashing. We need your help.  

We account for $30.3 billion (3.7% of GSP) of the Illinois economy and contribute over 224,000 jobs. In Chicago, alone, that’s $2.25 billion in economic activity annually. If we go missing, the economic implosion in our neighborhoods, in our cities, and in our state will take decades to rebuild. 

We are a $1 billion economy in Wyoming, $2.9 billion in Nebraska, $4.2 billion in Iowa, $7 billion in Utah, $8.3 billion in Indiana, $9 billion in Arizona, $10 billion in Missouri, $15 billion in North Carolina, $19 billion in Ohio, $24 billion in Georgia, $44 billion in Washington, $46 billion in Texas, and $230 billion in California. We are Big Business because we are Local Business, creating and sustaining jobs across trades, not to mention the Artists themselves.  

Artists, whose creativity has elevated our best moments and now sustain us through one of our worst. Artists, who require your signature as a byline to one of the most consequential stories of your tenure; the story where you:

1. Extend Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) by August 1, before 28 million of your constituents are evicted and on the streets.

2. Create a 100% subsidy for COBRA to protect workers’ healthcare, with eligibility extended to 36 months.

3. Provide $43.85 billion in economic relief to sustain our Arts and Culture institutions: this relief should go directly to the NEA, NEH, IMLS, and CPB, to be appropriated to its partner organizations across the towns, cities, suburbs, exurbs, and rural areas in which they operate. This $43.85 billion is 5% of our generated revenue for 2019, which is proportionate to the $50 billion you gave to the top ten airlines who successfully lobbied for your assistance. We ask for nothing more than immediate and proportionate economic relief. 

The cost of this relief and FPUC’s extension of $85/day ($600 extra dollars a week) will pale compared to your inaction, which is estimated to cost trillions and will devastate working people. Families and individuals who depend on our colossal Arts Economy are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table as they face anxiety over whether they can make it past August 1. Our very humanity—and the Humanities—teeter at the edge of a fiscal and existential cliff. If we fall, so does the identity of America itself, for we are the very expression of this nation. And right now, we are crying out for your action.  

Dear Senators, you are at your finest when you come together to hear the collective call of your people, one people, without prejudice to partisanship or politic, and with a heart full of love for all whom you represent. We are not only calling on you to represent us, we are calling on you to represent this moment. We are calling on you to represent our future. We are calling on you to represent the history that you are about to make.  

Dear Senators, now is your time. The nation is bearing witness. You hundred women and men stand at the center of America’s stage and we are calling upon you to act. You have the power to save your people and revitalize your country in its darkest hour. And we are desperate for Light. Dear Senators, the ink is still wet, you hold the pen, and the story of this nation is in your hands. 

UNITED WE STAND, 

Matthew-Lee Erlbach 
THE ARTS ECONOMY

Co-signatories of this letter include working-class Arts Workers in solidarity with the most preëminent Arts Leaders and Institutions of the United States.

Biden, in Stark Contrast to Trump’s Threats, Issues Roadmap to Reopen Public Schools Safely As COVID-19 Rates Surge

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, in contrast to Trump, has issued a roadmap to reopen public schools safely as COVID-19 cases continue to surge (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Demonstrating yet again the stark contrast between the malevolent ineptitude of Trump and the competence, care and concern of Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president has issued his own plan to reopen schools safely in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. Trump’s only plan: damn the science, bully public schools to reopen or lose federal funding, impede testing and keep COVID-19 cases and fatalities secret from the public. This is from the Biden campaign: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Joe Biden’s Roadmap to Reopening Schools Safely

Educators, students, and families have done an incredible job in difficult circumstances over the last four months. Everyone wants schools to fully reopen for in-person instruction. Creating the conditions to make it happen should be a top national priority. Joe Biden believes that the decision about when to reopen safely should be made by state, tribal, and local officials, based on science and in consultation with communities and tribal governments. It should be made with the safety of students and educators in mind. And, it should be made recognizing that if we do this wrong, we will put lives at risk and set our economy and our country back.

The challenge facing our schools is unprecedented. President Trump has made it much worse. We had a window to get this right. And, Trump blew it. His administration failed to heed the experts and take the steps required to reduce infections in our communities. As a result, cases have exploded. Now our window before the new school year is closing rapidly, and we are forced to grapple with reopening our schools in an environment of much greater risk to educators, students, and their families than there would have been if America had competent leadership. 
 
Over a month ago, Biden identified key steps that Donald Trump needed to take to reopen our schools safely. Trump has taken none of them. In fact, he’s done the opposite. He has threatened to force schools to reopen for in-person instruction without the basic resources they need to keep students, educators, and communities safe. If Trump had actually done his job as President, the decisions facing our schools would look fundamentally different.
 
Joe Biden has a simple five-step roadmap to support local decision-making on reopening schools safely and to help students whose learning was interrupted: 
 
Get the Virus Under Control: Months into this crisis, infection rates are spiking across the country, personal protective equipment (PPE) is still in short supply, and hospitalizations and deaths are unacceptably high. We have only weeks to go before the school year begins, and we have no plan, no leadership, and no additional resources to fight this crisis. We do not have sufficient testing, adequate contact tracing, or reliable supply chains. It is outrageous that Trump forced educators, parents, and caregivers into this situation. If we want to reopen schools safely, we need to get cases down in states and communities across America. Now. That means mask wearing and appropriate social distancing guidelines that match the virus trajectory in a community. In addition, Biden has laid out comprehensive plans on March 12April 27, and June 11, among others, to:

  • Implement nationwide testing-and-tracing, including doubling the number of drive-through testing sites;
  • Establish a sustainable supply chain for PPE, including fully utilizing the Defense Production Act to ensure enough masks for every school in America every day;
  • Protect older Americans and others at high risk;
  • Provide small businesses with the resources they need to reopen safely.

Set National Safety Guidelines, Empower Local Decision-Making: The Trump Administration’s chaotic and politicized response has left school districts to improvise a thousand hard decisions on their own. Schools need clear, consistent, effective national guidelines, not mixed messages and political ultimatums. Biden would task the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies with establishing basic, objective criteria to guide state, tribal, and local officials in deciding if and how reopening can be managed safely in their communities, including:

  • Decisions on reopening have been tied to the level of risk and degree of viral spread in the community. Biden agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, that “schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgement of local experts.”
  • Emergency funding needs have been met so that schools have the resources to reconfigure classrooms, kitchens, and other spaces, improve ventilation, and take other necessary steps to make it easier to physically distance and minimize risk of spread.
  • Schools have taken necessary precautions to foster a culture of health and safety and protect educators and students, including reducing class size, limiting large gatherings, and providing safe environments for eating.
  • Schools have ready access to enough masks and other PPE for every student and educator every day, if they need it. 
  • Reasonable accommodations have been made for at-risk educators and students, in collaboration with educators, their unions, parents, and caregivers.
  • State and local officials have shared a plan for regularly communicating about school decisions and resources with parents, caregivers, educators, and the community.
  • The federal government has issued reopening guidelines, free from political interference, in greater detail to answer basic questions that schools have, including: How low does the community infection rate need to be to reopen and at what point should schools shut down again if cases rise? What are safe maximum class sizes? If schools cannot accommodate everyone, who should return to the classroom first? The current lack of clarity is paralyzing for schools.

Provide Emergency Funding for Public Schools and Child Care Providers: Schools urgently need emergency financial support, but what they have gotten from Trump is bluster and bullying and, worse, threats to further slash their funding. As a result of Trump’s failure to lead, states could face drastic budget shortfalls totalling $555 billion over state fiscal years of 2020-2022. Left unaddressed, these shortfalls could result in significant layoffs. According to one analysis, just a conservative 5% decrease in state education funding would result in the loss of almost 28,000 school positions, including teachers, counselors, social workers, and school psychologists. 

As President, Biden will always put our children, educators, and families first. He believes public schools, especially Title I schools – should have all the resources they need to safely return to in-person instruction and support all students. Biden is: 

  • Calling on Trump and Senate Republicans to pass the education funding in the HEROES Act, which the House passed months ago. This bill includes roughly $58 billion for local school districts to stabilize public education and save jobs. Over four months ago, Biden called for a renewable fund for state, tribal, and local governments to help prevent budget shortfalls and protect that relief from exactly the kind of political brinkmanship we are seeing from Trump and Republicans leaders today. It is past time to get it done. 
  • Calling on the Congress to pass a separate emergency package to ensure schools have the additional resources they need to adapt effectively to COVID-19. School officials estimate that districts will need about $30 billion to put in place the changes needed to reopen safely. This package should include funding for child care providers and public schools — particularly Title I schools and Indian schools — for personal protective equipment; public health and sanitation products; custodial and health services; and alterations to building ventilation systems, classrooms, schedules, class size, and transportation. And, an additional roughly $4 billion is needed to upgrade technology and broadband. Biden has previously announced that, as President, he will ensure schools have the resources to double the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in schools so our kids get the mental health care they need. That’s more important now than ever before, as kids grapple with the stress and trauma of our economic and public health crisis.

Ensuring High-Quality Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic: We are continuing to learn how to best support students, educators, and their families through this challenging time. Biden would mobilize a large-scale U.S. Department of Education effort to work with practitioners to develop, adopt, and share the latest tools and best practices to ensure high-equality learning during this pandemic. This effort would include:

  • Delivering high-quality remote and hybrid learning with a special emphasis on students with disabilities, English-language learners, and students who do not have access to specific technology, such as broadband and devices. This includes dedicated time and resources for our educators to pursue professional development opportunities tailored to the unique circumstances of this crisis.
  • Creating a Safer Schools Best Practices Clearinghouse to help schools and child care providers across the country and around the world share approaches, protocols, and tools for reopening safely.
  • Providing tools and resources for parents and other caregivers to help them make informed decisions on sending their children to school, help their children cope with the stress of this pandemic, and assist them with their children’s remote learning.
  • Ensuring tailored remote teaching assignments and educational plans for educators and students who are at greater risk to COVID-19 or live with a family member who is. 
  • Working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health to share with educators and families evolving scientific insights into how COVID-19 affects children. Biden has called for scaling up COVID-19 pediatric research partnerships to address glaring gaps in our knowledge.

Closing the COVID-19 Educational Equity Gap: Despite the best efforts of educators, students, and familiesthis crisis, coupled with long-standing racial inequities, has led many students, especially low-income students and students of color, to struggle and fall behind. New research shows that some students could even lose an entire year of academic gains. As President, Biden would:

  • Direct a White House-led initiative to identify evidence-based policy solutions that address gaps in learning, mental health, social and emotional well-being, and systemic racial and socioeconomic disparities in education that the pandemic has exacerbated. Biden would invite participation from a dedicated group of health experts, including mental health professionals and neuroscientists; educators, including early educators, and their unions; school technology practitioners and experts; civil rights advocates; Indian education experts; foundations and the private sector; and families, students, and community advocates. Biden would request its recommendations on an accelerated time frame in order to provide guidance to states, tribal, and local governments as quickly as possible. 
  • Launch a COVID-19 Educational Equity Gap Challenge Grant to encourage states and tribal governments – in partnership with the education and broader community – to develop bold plans that adopt evidence-based policy recommendations and give all of our students the support they need to succeed. 
  • Support community schools. Community schools work with families, students, teachers and community organizations to identify families’ unmet needs and then develop a plan to leverage community resources to address these needs in the school building, turning schools into community hubs. They provide holistic services like health and nutrition, mental health, and adult education– services that are especially critical during and after COVID-19 to address the social, emotional, academic, and health needs of students in a comprehensive way. Biden will provide resources to expand this model.