WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's hopes to salvage a four-night celebration for his reelection campaign have been thwarted by spiking coronavirus cases across the Sun Belt, with the president announcing Thursday that he was calling off the public events of the Republican National Convention scheduled to be held in Florida.
Trump had already moved the convention from North Carolina and dramatically scaled back its programming and attendance in Jacksonville in an effort to keep it on track. But the nights of 'infomercial” programming and parties appeared to be both a health and political risk to Trump and his advisers, who feared that going forward with the event, set to draw more than 10,000 people, would ultimately backfire on the president.
“It's a different world, and it will be for a little while,” Trump said, explaining his decision during one of his newly resuscitated White House briefings on the coronavirus. “To have a big convention is not the right time.”
Trump ends effort for payroll tax cut
President Donald Trump on Thursday reluctantly dropped his bid to cut Social Security payroll taxes as Republicans stumbled anew in efforts to unite around a $1 trillion COVID-19 rescue package to begin negotiations with Democrats who are seeking far more.
Frustrating new delays came as the administration scrambled to avert the cutoff next week of a $600-per-week bonus unemployment benefit that has helped prop up the economy while staving off financial disaster for millions of people thrown out of work since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Trump yielded to opposition to the payroll tax cut among his top Senate allies, claiming in a Twitter post that Democratic opposition was the reason. In fact, top Senate Republicans disliked the expensive idea in addition to opposition from Democrats.
Poll: 75% favor mask mandates
Three out of 4 Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor requiring people to wear face coverings while outside their homes, a new poll finds, reflecting fresh alarm over spiking coronavirus cases and a growing embrace of government advice intended to safeguard public health.
The survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also finds that about two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how President Donald Trump is handling the outbreak, an unwelcome sign for the White House in an election year shaped by the nation's battle with the pandemic.
Support for requiring masks is overwhelming among Democrats, at 89%, but 58% of Republicans are in favor as well.
California prison facing outbreak
A federal prison complex in California struggled to contain the spread of the coronavirus because of staff shortages, limited use of home confinement and ineffective screening, the Justice Department watchdog said Thursday as it released the first results of remote inspections of facilities across the country.
The report said two staff members at the Bureau of Prisons facility in Lompoc, California, came to work in late March despite experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
Officials in March also failed to test or isolate an inmate who reported that he had begun having symptoms two days earlier. The inmate later tested positive at a hospital.
As of mid-July, four inmates had died and more than 1,000 had tested positive, according to the inspector general's office, which is conducting 16 reviews of prisons, halfway houses and other institutions under the control of the BOP.
South Africa sees wave of deaths
Global hot spot South Africa is seeing a “huge discrepancy” between confirmed COVID-19 deaths and an unusually high number of excess deaths from natural causes, while Africa's top health official said Thursday the coronavirus is spreading there “like wildfire.”
A new report by the South African Medical Research Council, released late Wednesday, shows more than 17,000 excess deaths from May 6 to July 14 as compared to data from the past two years, while confirmed COVID-19 deaths have surpassed 6,000.
The council's president, Glenda Gray, said the excess deaths could be attributed to COVID-19 as well as other widespread diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis while many health resources are redirected toward the pandemic. Meanwhile, some South Africans are thought to be avoiding health facilities as fears of the new virus spread and public hospitals are overwhelmed.