…and welcome to another day of coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in the US. More on Donald Trump’s unhinged White House briefing last night in a minute. First, the figures according to Johns Hopkins University:
- US cases: 582,431
- US deaths: 23,647
- New York deaths: 10,058
- New Jersey deaths: 2,443
- Michigan deaths: 1,602
Yesterday, Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, told reporters “the worst is over”, if social distancing and other restrictions remain in place, and announced a partnership with six other north-eastern governors to work on reopening the regional economy.
Of course, Trump’s public utterances clashed somewhat with such a cautious approach.
On Twitter, the president claimed authority over the states about reopening plans. The experts dismissed that claim.
Then at a White House briefing marked by attacks on reporters and the playing of a propaganda film half-ripped from Fox News, Trump made a claim for the ages:
When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.
Constitutional lawyers: Nope.
CNN, CBS reporter Paula Reid and most of the rest of the press corps: Incredulous.
Laura Ingraham: “I thoroughly enjoyed today’s coronavirus task force briefing. That was great. It was a tour de force!”
Sean Hannity, from whose show much of Trump’s propaganda film seemed to come, spoke to Texas governor Greg Abbott, who said: “I think most states can reopen even sooner than later. We don’t have to wait until 1 May.”
That’s the date by which Trump, the panjandrum of the White House podium, has said he would like to start reopening the shuttered US economy.
White House experts including the notably not-yet-fired Dr Anthony Fauci have cast doubt on that goal and said moving too swiftly to lift social restrictions could cause a resurgence in Covid-19 cases. Trump says the decision is his alone and he will listen to his advisers – and also rely a lot on “instinct”.
Let that sink in. While you do, here’s some reading:
Washington bureau chief David Smith’s take on that briefing, with an intro for the ages:
A toddler threw a self-pitying tantrum on live television on Monday night. Unfortunately he was 73 years old, wearing a long red tie and running the world’s most powerful country.
And here’s Tom McCarthy’s timeline of Trump’s coronavirus misinformation campaign: