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New virus figures in the United States reveal new deaths, job losses and sluggish budgets

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Sad beyond spin

The official figures released on Thursday can sum up the plague so far. More than 2.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of claims to about 38.6 million since the coronavirus closed businesses and wiped out the economy. Another 1.2 million people asked for help under a new federal program for the self-employed, entrepreneurs and concert workers.

The death toll in the United States from COVID-19 was around 95,000. Democratic leaders of Congress have called on President Donald Trump to order that flags be lowered to half the staff when the toll reaches 100,000, as a unifying gesture of grief. Trump agreed, saying he would do it over the next three days.

Larry Kudlow, director of Trump’s National Economic Council, spoke of glimmers of hope “for the economy and expressed optimism about a marked improvement this summer. But Kudlow added:” Look, it’s really difficult to model a virus, a pandemic, etc. which we haven’t seen in 100 years. The numbers coming in are not good. “

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed his rage over another number: 1,300. That’s the number of patients infected with a coronavirus in the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities who receive hydroxychloroquine, which n has not yet been proven to treat COVID-19. Newsday’s Robert Brodsky and David M. Schwartz describe the details.

Other grim new statistics for New York State and Long Island appeared on Thursday as authorities wrestle with spending related to the virus. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s health department has told hospitals and nursing homes that they will get another cut in Medicaid funding as suggested before the pandemic, Newsday’s Michael Gormley reports. Nassau County is now reporting a $ 384 million budget deficit, up from the $ 261 million deficit forecast a month ago, Newsday’s Scott Eidler reports.

On Thursday, during a visit to a Ford factory in Michigan, Trump ignored harsh truths with a happy speech reminiscent of his “miracle” scheduled for April. “It is an artificial closure, and now we will be able to open it,” he said of the economy. When asked about plans for more stimulus spending, he said, “It’s not like long-term problems and it takes years and years to come back.”

“We will be back next year. Perhaps even in the fourth quarter, in a few months, we will be back. We have closed it and now we are opening it.” He talked about campaign events. “The demand has been incredible to start the rallies,” said Trump. (Watch the video of the visit here.)

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Vanity fair? All about Trump

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Executive President William Clay Ford Jr., center, with President Donald Trump during a Thursday visit to a Ford factory converted to manufacture protective equipment and fans at Ypsilanti, Michigan. Credit: AFP via Getty Images / Brendan Smialowski

Trump refused to wear a mask in public during his visit to the Ford plant, which produces ventilators and masks and other protective equipment for the pandemic. It doesn’t matter if the company has courteously asked him to wear one, or that an executive order from the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, forces people to wear one in closed public spaces, or that other elected officials give sometimes the example.

Trump said he wore a mask earlier in another area of ​​the factory, where they preferred it, but refused to wear one in front of the cameras. In case anyone doubted that it was all about him, he said: I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it. “As strange as it may seem to an adult, the president also refuses to wear his glasses in public.

Inventory storm grows

Senator Kelly Loeffler’s (R-Ga.) Husband has sent a $ 1 million check to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, as lawmakers face questions about his family’s stock trading . Spouse Jeff Sprecher, president of the New York Stock Exchange, made the donation on April 29, reports Politico.

Loeffler released stocks shortly after a congressional briefing on the coronavirus in January. She submitted documents to the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Senate ethics committee regarding the transaction. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) Has resigned from his position as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee because he is under federal investigation to find out if he was involved in virus-insider trading.

Postal madness mounts

Trump’s own campaign and the GOP sent letters to supporters encouraging postal voting. This makes his latest claims that the practice promotes “total fraud” even more outlandish. But he went on Thursday, a day after issuing a seemingly empty threat to somehow cut Michigan and Nevada out of federal funds during their mail-in preparations due to coronavirus-related health problems. Trump has already seemed irrational about voting systems before, even claiming without any evidence that “electoral fraud” robbed him of the popular vote in the last election.

“We do not want a postal ballot,” he said. Now, if someone has to mail it because they are sick, by the way because they live in the White House and they have to vote in Florida and they will not be in Florida, but there is a reason for that, it’s OK.

More news on coronaviruses

See a summary of the latest pandemic developments on Long Island and beyond by Newsday reporting staff, written by Bart Jones. For a full list of Newsday’s coronavirus stories, click here.

His kind of guy

Senate confirmation 49-44 Thursday of Representative John Ratcliffe as Trump’s director of national intelligence turns out to be unusual. On the one hand, the votes for the candidates for this post are generally unanimous. On the other hand, Ratcliffe was forced to step down when he was first appointed last year after his qualifications to lead the American intelligence community turned out to be thin and he appeared to have inflated his curriculum vitae.

But Ratcliffe (R-Texas) got a unique second chance. He demonstrated fierce partisan loyalty to Trump during the impeachment hearings, with hostile interrogations of career diplomats who testified as witnesses to the Ukrainian President’s scandal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has since called Ratcliffe’s appointment a “clear sign” of Trump’s disrespect and distrust of the intelligence community.

“Open skies”, open questions

The Trump administration confirmed on Thursday its intention to withdraw from another treaty, for reasons that are not entirely clear. The bone of contention regarding the Open Skies treaty concerns the places where American and Russian planes are allowed to fly. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “We can … reconsider our withdrawal if Russia returns to full compliance with the treaty”. What “full compliance” means is a matter of guesswork.

The Russian mission to NATO tweeted: if this happens, it will be very unfortunate. Unfortunately, this goes hand in hand with the general policy of the current US administration to derail all arms control agreements. The treaty is crucial for ensuring mutual trust in Europe and on a larger scale.

What else is going on:
A possible terrorist attack on American soil was reported on Thursday. A member of the security forces was injured and the gunman killed at a Texas Navy base, authorities said. The Small Business Administration has become a lightning rod for frustration, reports the Wall Street Journal. Pompeo pushed State Department officials to find a way to justify the emergency declaration already implemented to speed up an $ 8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, one of the measures examined by the watchdog ousted from the department, reports CNN. The majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Spoke to Fox News about urging Americans to find jobs. Nursing homes with large numbers of black and Latino residents are twice as vulnerable to coronavirus as those with an extremely white population, reports the New York Times.

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