Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has incurred criticism for downplaying the coronavirus pandemic, has threatened to move his business out of California in lashing out against a warning from Alameda county to not open his company’s plant in Fremont, California.
“Tesla is filing a lawsuit against Alameda county immediately,” Musk tweeted on Saturday morning. “The unelected & ignorant “Interim Health Officer” of Alameda is acting contrary to the Governor, the President, our Constitutional freedoms & just plain common sense!”
On Friday, the county released a statement saying Tesla “must not reopen”, adding: “Restoring all daily activities too soon risks a rapid spike in cases and would jeopardize the relative stability we’ve seen in our health and hospital system.”
Six counties in the San Francisco Bay area, including Alameda, barred nonessential manufacturing in a wide-ranging 16 March order.
Cuomo announces a partnership with Northwell Health to establish 24 temporary Covid-19 testing sites at churches in predominately minority communities. He is joined remotely by Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat who represents New York’s eighth congressional district, which encompasses large parts of Brooklyn and a section of Queens.
“Communities of color have been hit hard,” Jeffries says. “This is not over for any of us until it is over for all of us.”
Cuomo says 15,000 people have been given antibody tests in New York with an overall infection rate of 19.9%. Among the 1,300 transit workers who have been tested, the rate is 14.2%, well below the norm and, Cuomo says, proof positive that PPE works.
The governor then explains how the data shows the pandemic is disproportionately impacting lower-income communities and communities of color, saying 20 of the 21 zip codes with the most hospitalizations have greater than average black and/or Latino populations.
“When you look at disasters [like] emergencies, hurricanes, floods,” he says, “the cruel irony is the poorest people pay the highest price.”
The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, says total hospitalizations, intubations and new coronavirus cases are all down over the past 24-hour period in his daily briefing from Albany. The bad news: there were a total of 226 deaths statewide yesterday after 216 (Friday), 239 (Thursday), 232 (Wednesday), 231 (Tuesday) and 226 (Monday) over the previous five days.
“We would like to see this number dropping at a far faster rate than it has been dropping,” Cuomo says.
Cuomo then says three children in the New York area have died from an inflammatory illness potentially related to Covid-19, saying: “This is the last thing we need at this time with all the anxiety we have, now for parents to have to worry if their youngster is infected.
In New York City, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus, the subway system is now being shut down between 1am and 5am each night, to allow the disinfecting of trains.
This affects the city’s homeless, some of whom use the trains as a form of shelter. Ordinarily it’s less of a problem as the weather warms up, but even though it’s now mid-May this weekend temperatures have plunged and snow has even been reported in Central Park.
The city has a solution – as the Associated Press reports:
New York City transit officials said they were providing buses for homeless people to shelter from unseasonably frigid weather this weekend during newly instituted overnight subway closures.
City outreach workers have been persuading homeless people to leave the system for shelters during the shutdowns. But with temperatures around the freezing mark and a traces of snow reported in Manhattan’s Central Park, transit officials said they also would provide a limited number of buses at end-of-line stations on Saturday and Sunday.
The buses are not for transportation, “but may serve as a place for individuals to escape the elements in the short term,” according to a prepared statement from New York City Transit President Sarah Feinberg and Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Tony Utano.
“We are providing these buses only during this cold snap and expect the city to continue to step up and take responsibility for providing safe shelter for those individuals experiencing homelessness,” the statement added.
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, will be giving his daily coronavirus briefing at 11.30am ET. This morning, he tweeted a quote attributed to Albert Einstein:
On Friday, the governor tweeted some facts which make very worrying reading for parents in New York, of which I am one:
There have been 73 reported cases in NY of children getting severely ill with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock-like syndrome. On Thursday, a 5-year-old boy passed away from these complications, believed to be caused by Covid-19. [The state department of health] is investigating.
There is further reporting out there, and it is alarming. As CNN quoted Cuomo: “This would be really painful news and would open up an entirely different chapter, because I can’t tell you how many people I spoke to who took peace and solace in the fact that children were not getting infected. We thought children could be vehicles of transmission … but we didn’t think children would suffer from it.”
CDC issues statement on AP report
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Robert Redfield has released a statement regarding a report this week which said the “decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House, according to internal government emails obtained by the Associated Press”.
Here’s the statement in full:
The re-opening guidance shared prematurely was in draft form and had not been vetted through the interagency review process. This is an iterative effort to ensure effective, clear guidance is presented to the American people. I had not seen a version of the guidance incorporating interagency and task force input and therefore was not yet comfortable releasing a final work product.”
So that doesn’t touch the AP’s contention that the White House quashed the guidance, whatever state it was in.
Here again is our chief reporter Ed Pilkington’s piece on the Trump administration’s eagerness to reopen the US economy despite warnings from public health advisers such as Dr Redfield:
It’s about Donald Trump’s decision, last weekend, to conduct an interview at the Lincoln Memorial and to claim worse treatment than the 16th president, the one who won the civil war, ended slavery and was shot dead on a trip to the theatre…
…As “great” as Lincoln might have been, Trump, with his martyr envy, has felt a compulsion to diminish him whenever he raises his name. Even murdered, Lincoln was treated better than Trump. Again, Trump wins.
…Trump has claimed that his poll numbers are higher than Lincoln’s. “Wow, highest Poll Numbers in the history of the Republican Party,” he tweeted. “That includes Honest Abe Lincoln.” There were no polls in the 1860s.
…Trump’s self-celebration has had a persuasive effect on present-day Republicans, who, according to an Economist-YouGov poll that appeared after Trump’s projection, favored Trump over Lincoln 53% to 47%.
Blumenthal goes on to make a comparison between the 45th president and a predecessor many have suggested is a better match than the 16th:
Lincoln’s predecessor James Buchanan might provide the better analog for today. In manner and experience, Buchanan was Trump’s opposite – dignified, polite, abhorring vulgarity. But his White House was a hive of treason, with his trusted Southern cabinet members plotting secession. Confronted with catastrophe, Buchanan blamed the crisis on antislavery “agitation” and declared that neither the president nor the Congress possessed the constitutional authority to oppose the dissolution of the Union.
Trump, echoing Buchanan, similarly abdicates his responsibility in the face of the pandemic. Effectively cutting the states loose, he stated that the federal government is a mere “backup,” infamously declaring, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
While Buchanan’s passivity was feckless, Trump’s is both feckless and cynical.
Anyway, so much for the history-loving centrist dads among the Guardian readers. Here’s an interview with Blumenthal I did last year, on publication of volume three of his five-volume life of Lincoln:
Here’s our write-up of the Yahoo News report on what Barack Obama reportedly thinks (note couching, skepticism fans) of the Trump administration’s decision to drop the case against Michael Flynn, and the White House’s management of the coronavirus outbreak.
It’s not pretty for Trump, obviously. Still awaiting his response.
A weekend editor’s lot can be a lonely one and his load heavy – although I wouldn’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me, don’t worry – but that load can be lightened by just 11 magic words: “There is no White House briefing on the press schedule today.”
I’ve typed them and for now they hold true. We’re not due to hear from Donald Trump or from Kayleigh McEnany, his combative but more-available-to-be-combative-than-her-predecessor-so-kudos-for-that new press secretary.
5:00PM – THE PRESIDENT participates in a meeting with Senior Military Leadership and National Security Team.
It’s not closed press. So Twitter aside, we may hear from Trump yet.
Obama: Trump virus response ‘an absolute chaotic disaster’
Yahoo News has a big fat scoop, having obtained what it says is tape of Barack Obama talking to his alumni association about the justice department’s decision to drop the case against Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Moscow.
A report on the report is on its way.
But further down the Yahoo story, which is by Michael Isikoff, a chap who knows his Russia onions, as it were, Obama reportedly addresses Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s the passage in full:
This election that’s coming up on every level is so important because what we’re going to be battling is not just a particular individual or a political party. What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life. And by the way, we’re seeing that internationally as well.
It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty. It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset – of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ – when that mindset is operationalized in our government.
It’s not like Donald Trump to take such words lying down, of course, so one would expect a cannonade of tweets to blast from the White House portico at some point soon, aimed at the Obamas in Kalorama.
…and welcome to another day of coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, and the politics of it, in the US.
First, as ever, the salient figures from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland:
- US cases: 1,283,762
- US deaths: 77,175
- New York cases: 330,407
- New York deaths: 26,243
Other states are hard hit: there have been nearly 9,000 deaths in New Jersey, nearly 5,000 in Massachusetts and more than 4,000 in Michigan.
And yet, encouraged by the White House, much more than half the 50 states are looking at various forms of reopening their economies.
Here’s Ed Pilkington, our chief reporter, on why that is a terrible gamble:
Speaking of the White House, the virus has circled closer to the president himself: this week a valet who served Donald Trump, the vice-president Mike Pence’s press secretary (who is married to senior policy aide Stephen Miller) and Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant have tested positive. The president, whose reluctance to wear a mask and socially distance is well known, was reportedly “lava level” angry about it all. So, to quote Kurt Vonnegut as I have tended to throughout this dizzying time, it goes.
It’s hard of course to keep up with all the coronavirus news, but here’s some of it in summary, with links to coverage:
- More than 33m Americans have filed for unemployment, the worst such crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Business editor Dominic Rushe asks if it could have been avoided.
- Trump thinks the virus will “go away” before a vaccine is found. He also thinks 95,000 Americans will die. The president has been revising his predicted death toll upwards. Official federal estimates are higher.
- The president, who is being tested daily, doesn’t think testing is all that important (this is from the Washington Post).
More to come, obviously.