President Donald Trump has used his Independence Day speech to tout America’s “progress” against Covid-19, despite a nationwide spike in cases.
Amid criticism of his handling of the pandemic, the president said China – where the new coronavirus originated – must be “held fully accountable”.
President Trump also berated protesters who toppled monuments of historical figures in recent anti-racism protests.
“Their goal is demolition,” he said.
In a combative tone that echoed his Friday night speech at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, President Trump pledged to defeat the “radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters”.
He spoke from the White House lawn, flanked by First Lady Melania Trump, to a crowd that included soldiers and frontline medical staff.
Praising “our nation’s scientific brilliance,” President Trump said the US “will likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year”.
The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned in June that scientists may never be able to create an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, observing: “The estimate is we may have a vaccine within one year. If accelerated, it could be even less than that, but by a couple of months. That’s what scientists are saying.”
The US has the world’s highest number of Covid-19 deaths and infections, and confirmed more than 43,000 new cases in 24 hours on July 4, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Florida, where the outbreak is especially acute, saw 11,458 new cases.
President Trump made no reference to the nearly 130,000 US deaths linked to the pandemic. He said the US had tested almost 40 million people, adding that 99% of coronavirus cases were “totally harmless” – a claim for which he gave no evidence.
His comments were followed by a military flyover involving various aircraft, including B-52 bombers and F-35 fighter jets.
A massive firework display was later held in Washington DC, watched by spectators who gathered on the National Mall.
Ahead of President Trump’s speech, Black Lives Matter protesters gathered outside the White House – the scene of many recent anti-racism demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s killing in police custody.
Addressing America’s coronavirus battle, President Trump said his administration had “made a lot of progress” and “our strategy is moving along well”, despite the nationwide surge in infections.
Donald Trump, who faces re-election this year and appears keen to fire up his conservative base with appeals to nationalism, accused China of trying to conceal the virus outbreak – a charge Beijing denies.
He alleged: “China’s secrecy, deceptions and cover-up allowed [the virus] to spread all over the world.”
Elaborating on his plan to create a “National Garden of American Heroes” featuring statues of renowned Americans, President Trump said the country’s rich heritage belongs to citizens of all races.
“The patriots who built our country were not villains,” he said.
“They were heroes.”
Many 4th of July events were canceled on public health grounds, with beaches in Florida and California closed, city parades canceled and firework displays curtailed.
Joe Biden tweeted that “this Fourth of July, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask”.
Firework displays are a traditional highlight of 4th of July, but an estimated 80% of cities and towns have canceled their shows.
New York City usually holds an hour-long extravaganza, but this year it was replaced by five-minute displays through the week, organized by Macy’s department store, with a final televised one on July 4 – all at undisclosed locations.
Major League Baseball canceled its 2020 All-Star Game for the first time since World War Two.
The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, which has provided health insurance to millions of Americans.
According to government lawyers, Obamacare became invalid when the previous Republican-led Congress axed parts of it.
Democratic challenger Joe Biden attacked the move, saying President Donald Trump had put millions of lives at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
Health care will be a key battleground in this year’s presidential election.
Some 20 million Americans could lose their health coverage if the court overturns the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was introduced by President Barack Obama.
Obamacare’s popular provisions include banning insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. Millions of low-income Americans were able to obtain insurance due to the act.
President Trump says the scheme costs too much and has promised a different plan to replace it, preserving some popular elements of the existing law but covering fewer people.
Under Obamacare, millions of people in the US must purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty.
In 2017, Congress removed a key plank of the policy, eliminating the federal fine for those who did not sign up, known as the “individual mandate”.
In its filing to the Supreme Court on June 25, the justice department argued “the individual mandate is not severable from the rest of the act”.
As a result, it said: “The mandate is now unconstitutional as a result of Congress’s elimination… of the penalty for non-compliance.”
President Trump cannot rely on Congress to complete the dismantling of Obamacare because the Democrats took control of the lower house in 2019.
Joe Biden, who wants to rally the public behind an expanded Affordable Care Act, said some coronavirus survivors could lose their comprehensive healthcare coverage if the act was overturned.
He said: “They would live their lives caught in a vice between Donald Trump’s twin legacies: his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, and his heartless crusade to take healthcare protections away from American families.”
In a statement on June 26, White House spokesman Judd Deere said Obamacare was “an unlawful failure”.
The statement said: “It limits choice, forces Americans to purchase unaffordable plans, and restricts patients with high-risk preexisting conditions from accessing the doctors and hospitals they need.”
The US has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, recording 2.4 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and 122,370 deaths – more than any other country.
However, the true number of infections is likely to be 10 times higher than the reported figure, according to the latest estimate by health officials.
The Supreme Court is unlikely to hear the case before voters go to the polls in November, media report.
In the memoir, John Bolton paints an unflattering picture of a president whose decision-making was dominated by a desire to be re-elected in November.
President Trump has said the book is “made up of lies and fake stories”.
The justice department’s lawyers argued that John Bolton had breached an obligation to complete a pre-publication review of his manuscript to ensure that it contained no classified information.
John Bolton’s lawyers dismissed the claim. They insisted that the manuscript was thoroughly examined and that President Trump simply did not like the contents.
In his 10-page ruling, Judge Lamberth wrote that John Bolton had opted out of the pre-publication review process before its conclusion and that he “likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his non-disclosure agreement obligations”.
John Bolton nevertheless denied the government’s injunction request.
He wrote: “In taking it upon himself to publish his book without securing final approval from national intelligence authorities, Bolton may indeed have caused the country irreparable harm.
“But in the internet age, even a handful of copies in circulation could irrevocably destroy confidentiality. A single dedicated individual with a book in hand could publish its contents far and wide from his local coffee shop. With hundreds of thousands of copies around the globe – many in newsrooms – the damage is done. There is no restoring the status quo.”
Shortly after the decision, President Trump alleged on Twitter that John Bolton “broke the law by releasing Classified Information (in massive amounts)”.
“He must pay a very big price for this, as others have before him. This should never to happen again!!!” the president added.
Later, President Trump tweeted: “BIG COURT WIN against Bolton. Obviously, with the book already given out and leaked to many people and the media, nothing the highly respected Judge could have done about stopping it…BUT, strong & powerful statements & rulings on MONEY & on BREAKING CLASSIFICATION were made….”
A lawyer for John Bolton, Charles Cooper, welcomed the judge’s decision to deny the injunction request.
However, he took issue with the conclusion that his client did not comply fully with his contractual pre-publication obligation to the government.
“The full story of these events has yet to be told – but it will be,” John Bolton added.
His publisher, Simon & Schuster, said: “We are grateful that the Court has vindicated the strong First Amendment protections against censorship and prior restraint of publication.”
John Bolton became President Trump’s national security adviser in April 2018.
He left his post in September 2019, after disagreeing strongly with the president over how to handle major challenges like Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan.
In The Room Where It Happened, John Bolton portrays President Trump as an “erratic”, “impulsive” and “stunningly uninformed” leader.
Among the allegations, which are based on private conversations and are impossible to verify, are:
President Trump sought help from Chinese President Xi Jinping to win the 2020 vote, stressing the “importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome”;
John Bolton also said China’s construction of internment camps in the Xinjiang region was the “right thing to do”;
President Trump was willing to intervene in criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked”. John Bolton said President Trump was willing to assist Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over a case involving a Turkish company;
President Trump said invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that the South American nation was “really part of the United States”;
President Trump was unaware the UK was a nuclear power and once asked a senior aide if Finland was part of Russia.
In New York, the iconic department store Macy’s was broken into, as shops were looted and windows smashed.
Curfew in the city will resume at 20:00 on June 2.
In Chicago, two people were reported killed amid unrest, although the circumstances are unclear.
The chief of police in Louisville, Kentucky has been sacked after law enforcement officers fired into a crowd on Sunday night, killing the owner of a nearby business.
Australian PM Scott Morrison has demanded an investigation into the alleged assault by police of two Australian journalists covering protests in Washington DC.
Music channels and celebrities have pledged to mark #BlackoutTuesday pausing for eight minutes – the length of time a police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck.
The protests began after a video showed George Floyd, 46, being arrested in Minneapolis on May 25 and a white police officer continuing to kneel on his neck even after he pleaded that he could not breathe.
Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and will appear in court next week. Three other police officers have been fired.
The Floyd case has reignited deep-seated anger over police killings of black Americans and racism. It follows the high-profile cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; and others that have driven the Black Lives Matter movement.
President Trump delivered a brief address from the White House Rose Garden, amid the sound of a nearby protest being dispersed.
The president said “all Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd” but said his memory must not be “drowned out by an angry mob”.
He described the scenes of looting and violence in the capital on May 31 as “a total disgrace” before pledging to bolster the city’s defenses.
President Trump said: “I’m dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property.”
Asked what was his evidence of hydroxychloroquine’s positive benefits, President Trump said: “Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it.”
He added: “I’ve heard a lot of good stories [about hydroxychloroquine] and if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right I’m not going to get hurt by it.”
Though some people in the White House have tested positive for coronavirus, President Trump said again he had “zero symptoms” and was being tested frequently.
He added that he had been taking a daily zinc supplement and received a single dose of azithromycin, an antibiotic meant to prevent infection.
When asked whether the White House physician had recommended he start taking the disputed remedy, President Trump said he himself had requested it.
Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, said in a statement issued through the White House later on May 18 that President Trump was in “very good health” and “symptom-free”.
The US Navy officer added: “After numerous discussions he and I had regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.”
The FDA last month issued an advisory saying that hydroxychloroquine has “not been shown to be safe and effective”.
The agency cited reports that the drug can cause serious heart rhythm problems in Covid-19 patients.
The FDA warned against use of the medication outside hospitals, where the agency has granted temporary authorization for its use in some cases. Clinical trials of the drug are also under way.
The CDC says there are no approved drugs or therapeutics to prevent or treat Covid-19, which is confirmed to have infected more than 1.5 million people in the US, killing more than 90,000 patients.
Speaking on May 13 at the White House, President Trump took issue with Dr. Fauci’s comments to a Senate hearing a day earlier about the risks to children of reopening and his assessment that a vaccine was unlikely before classes could begin this autumn.
He said: “Look, he wants to play all sides of the equation.”
“I was surprised by his answer actually, because, you know, it’s just to me – it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools,” the president told reporters.
The president said “the only thing that would be acceptable” is giving older teachers and professors a few more weeks before they return.
“Because this is a disease that attacks age, and it attacks health,” he said.
“But with the young children, I mean, and students, it’s really – just take a look at the statistics. It’s pretty amazing,” he added.
President Trump is keen to get Americans back to work and has praised governors who are moving to do so while criticizing others for not acting aggressively enough.
The US is split over President Trump’s focus on protecting livelihoods, critics accuse him of gambling with lives to serve his own political interests ahead of November’s re-election bid.
His latest comments come amid reports of some young children being severely affected by an inflammatory syndrome that could be linked to the virus.
Speaking to lawmakers on May 12, Dr. Fauci, a White House task force coronavirus expert, warned that relaxing stay-at-home rules too quickly could bring more “suffering and death”.
The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases emphasized the importance of not being “cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects” of the disease.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said: “We just have to see on a step-by-step basis as we get into the period of time with the fall, about reopening the schools, exactly where we will be in the dynamics of the outbreak.”
He also said the real US death toll is probably higher than the official figure.
On May 12, Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan said he was lifting that state’s stay-at-home measure, replacing it on May 15 with a “safer-at-home” order.
The Republican, who has been critical of President Trump, cited a two-week decline in severe cases and deaths that federal guidelines recommend.
President Donald Trump has confirmed the White House coronavirus task force will be winding down, with Vice-President Mike Pence suggesting it could be disbanded within weeks.
He said during a visit to a mask-manufacturing factory in Arizona: “We are bringing our country back.”
New confirmed infections per day in the US currently top 20,000, and daily deaths exceed 1,000.
However, US health officials warn the virus may spread as businesses begin to reopen.
The US currently has 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus infections and more than 70,000 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, which is tracking the pandemic.
During a visit to the plant in Phoenix after weeks holed up at the White House, President Trump told journalists: “Mike Pence and the task force have done a great job, but we’re now looking at a little bit of a different form, and that form is safety and opening. And we’ll have a different group probably set up for that.”
President Trump – who wore safety goggles but no face mask during his tour of the facility – was asked if it was “mission accomplished”, and he said: “No, not at all. The mission accomplished is when it’s over.”
Critics have accused the president of sacrificing Americans’ public health in his eagerness to reopen the economy ahead of his re-election battle in November.
Acknowledging a human cost to the plans, President Trump told reporters: “I’m not saying anything is perfect, and yes, will some people be affected? Yes.
“Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”
However, it will be up to individual states to determine how they reopen.
Some Democratic governors in badly hit states have been cautious, calling for more testing and other safeguards before easing lockdowns. Other states, many led by Republicans in the south and mid-west, have already begun lifting restrictions.
The White House coronavirus task force was set up on January 29. VP Mike Pence became its chairman four weeks later and its members include more than 20 experts and leading administration officials. The White House said the task force’s duty was to “lead the administration’s efforts to monitor, contain and mitigate the spread of the virus” and provide the public with information.
President Trump’s once-daily task force briefings became increasingly scarce after he was widely condemned by the medical community for pondering at the podium last month whether injecting disinfectant might kill the virus.
President Donald Trump has suggested he has seen evidence coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory.
Earlier the US national intelligence director’s office said it was still investigating how the virus began.
However, the office said it had determined Covid-19 “was not manmade or genetically modified”.
China has rejected the lab theory and criticized the US response to Covid-19.
Since emerging in China at the end of 2019, the new coronavirus has killed 230,000 people worldwide including 63,000 in the US.
The pandemic has seen at least 3.2 million people infected, a million of them Americans, since the virus spread from the city of Wuhan.
At the White House on April 30, President Trump was asked by a reporter: “Have you seen anything at this point that gives you a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the origin of this virus?”
“Yes, I have. Yes, I have,” said President Trump, without specifying.
“And I think the World Health Organization [WHO] should be ashamed of themselves because they’re like the public relations agency for China.”
Asked later to clarify his comment, the president said: “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that.”
President Trump also told reporters: “Whether they [China] made a mistake, or whether it started off as a mistake and then they made another one, or did somebody do something on purpose?
“I don’t understand how traffic, how people weren’t allowed into the rest of China, but they were allowed into the rest of the world. That’s a bad, that’s a hard question for them to answer.”
In a rare public statement, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees US spy agencies, said on April 30 it concurs with the “wide scientific consensus” regarding Covid-19’s natural origins.
The statement said: “The [intelligence community] will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.”
It was the first clear response from American intelligence debunking conspiracy theories – both from the US and China – that the virus is a bio-weapon.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology, which was founded in the 1950s, houses China’s first Biosafety Level 4 laboratory.
Such labs handle the most dangerous pathogens for which there are few available vaccines or treatments, and one of the areas the Wuhan facility studies is coronaviruses from bats.
President Trump has recently been escalating his war of words with China over the pandemic after what officials within the president’s administration had described as a truce with Beijing.
On April 29, he suggested China wanted him to lose his re-election bid in November.
President Trump has formerly accused Chinese officials of covering up the virus early on and saying they could have stopped the disease from spreading.
He has similarly criticized the WHO and withdrawn US funding for the global body.
China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, has accused the Trump administration of trying to distract from its own problems tackling the crisis.
The US passed a grim milestone, with more than a million cases of Covid-19 recorded.
There are now 3,098,391 confirmed cases worldwide and 216,160 deaths, Johns Hopkins University says.
The House of Representatives has abandoned plans to return to Washington next week. Several states, including Georgia and Texas, have pressed ahead with plans to reopen amid the infection rise.
President Donald Trump was speaking earlier at a White House event about supporting small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.
As he closed the event, President Trump expressed his pride at the work being done by his government and tried to compare the scale of the outbreak with the Spanish Flu pandemic.
He said: “We’re going through a period of time the likes of which we’ve never seen in this country before, certainly even if you go back into 1917 – it was the worst of all time but it was also not as bad here.
“It was very bad, it was very rough – it was a bad one. But it wasn’t quite like what we’re going through right now.”
However, the Spanish Flu pandemic happened in 1918, not 1917. It also had a far higher death toll than the coronavirus pandemic has had so far.
According to Johns Hopkins University tracking, more than 50 million people died of Spanish Flu worldwide while the current death toll from the coronavirus is about 216,000.
Some 675,000 Americans died in the 1918 pandemic, while some 58,000 are thought to have died with Covid-19.
In other developments, the organizers of the Academy Awards have announced that they will bend their own rules to let films only released on streaming platforms be eligible for nomination.
Under current rules, films have to be screened in a cinema in Los Angeles for at least seven days to qualify for awards.
On April 28, Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement that their commitment to theatre releases was “unchanged and unwavering” but said the pandemic has made the rule change necessary.
The Academy’s new policy is only temporary while most cinemas are closed because of coronavirus.
Many scheduled movie releases have been completely delayed by the pandemic.
New York, the epicenter of the US Covid-19 outbreak, will allow pharmacies to carry out tests for the virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo says.
He said some 5,000 pharmacies would be able to carry out testing, with the aim to provide 40,000 per day.
As of April 25, the US has more than 938,000 confirmed cases. Almost a third of the 53,751 deaths happened in New York City alone.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump did not hold his daily briefing, saying it was not worth his “time or effort”.
Speaking on Twitter on April 25, the president blamed the media for asking “nothing but hostile questions”. Donald Trump was heavily criticized after suggesting at the previous White House news conference that injecting disinfectant could potentially be used as a treatment for the virus.
The president’s remarks have been condemned as dangerous by doctors and manufacturers, as disinfectants are hazardous substances and can be poisonous if ingested.
In NYC, calls to the hotline for exposure to certain household chemicals more than doubled in the 18 hours after President Trump’s remarks – 30 cases compared to 13 for the same time frame last year.
President Trump’s tweet appears to confirm reports that the conferences may be coming to an end because polls suggest they have not bolstered his popularity among voters.
On April 24, his briefing was unusually short – lasting just over 20 minutes – and he took no questions from the media.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on April 25 that antibody screenings would be expanded at four hospitals, beginning with frontline medical workers.
He also said independent pharmacies would be allowed to collect samples for diagnostic tests.
It is part of a drive to find out how widely the virus has spread across the state of 20 million people.
He said: “Twenty-one days of hell, and now we are back to where we were 21 days ago. Testing is what we are compulsively or obsessively focused on now.”
New York healthcare staff and essential workers – such as police officers, firefighters, bus drivers and shop assistants – would be able to get tests even if they did not have any symptoms of infection, he said.
According to Governor Cuomo, this was important not just for their own safety but also to protect the public.
American medical community has lambasted President Donald Trump for suggesting research into whether coronavirus might be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body.
The president also appeared to propose irradiating patients’ bodies with UV light, an idea dismissed by a doctor at the briefing.
Another of the president’s officials had moments earlier said sunlight and disinfectant were known to kill the infection.
Disinfectants are hazardous substances and can be poisonous if ingested.
Even external exposure can be dangerous to the skin, eyes and respiratory system.
During April 23 White House coronavirus task force briefing, an official presented the results of US government research that indicated coronavirus appeared to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight and heat.
The study also showed bleach could kill the virus in saliva or respiratory fluids within five minutes and isopropyl alcohol could kill it even more quickly.
William Bryan, acting head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, outlined the findings at the news conference.
While noting the research should be treated with caution, President Trump suggested further research in that area.
He said: “So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous – whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light.”
“And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting,” he continued.
“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?
“So it’d be interesting to check that.”
Pointing to his head, President Trump went on: “I’m not a doctor. But I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.”
The president turned to Dr. Birx and asked if she had ever heard of using “the heat and the light” to treat coronavirus.
“Not as a treatment,” she said.
“I mean, certainly, fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But I’ve not seen heat or light.”
“I think it’s a great thing to look at,” President Trump said.
Applications of foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in the US will be suspended because of the coronavirus crisis, President Donald Trump said.
A day after he announced the move in an ambiguous tweet, President Trump said the measure would protect American jobs.
It is not clear how effective it will be as most visa services have already been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Critics say President Trump is trying to distract attention away from his response to the virus. The US has nearly 45,000 deaths.
Democrats also accuse the Trump administration of using the pandemic to crack down on immigration. The issue has traditionally been a strong campaigning theme for President Trump, a Republican, but has taken a back seat during the crisis and in the lead-up to the November election.
At a White House coronavirus briefing, President Trump said the executive order with the decision was likely to be signed on April 22. The ban could be extended “much longer” depending on how the economy was doing, he said.
After vowing to suspend “all immigration” to the US on April 20, President Trump apparently changed his original plan after a backlash from some business leaders. It would reportedly impact immigrants given temporary working visas, like farm laborers and hi-tech employees.
More than 20 million Americans have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus outbreak, and President Trump said the government had a “solemn duty” to ensure they regain their jobs.
He said: “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad.”
The president added that there could be some exemptions to the measure.
He also said: “We want to protect our US workers and I think as we move forward we will become more and more protective of them.”
President Trump’s order could spark legal challenges.
The US has the highest number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world – more than 820,000 – according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the disease globally.
Green cards give immigrants legal permanent residence in the US and the opportunity to apply for American citizenship.
In a typical year, nearly one million green cards are issued in the US. The majority – roughly 70% – go to those with relatives living in the US, according to a 2018 report from the US Senate. For employment-based green cards, a common form of the residency status, roughly 80% are issued to those already in the country, shifting from a temporary visa to permanent residence.
In a statement that followed, Harvard acknowledged receiving its $8.6 million through the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Trump signed last month.
However, Harvard did not say it would pay the money back.
The university tweeted: “Harvard has committed that 100% of these emergency higher education funds will be used to provide direct assistance to students facing urgent financial needs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Harvard said it had already provided financial assistance to students with travel, living expenses and online education amid the pandemic.
However, it disputed President Trump’s suggestion that it had received aid through the Payment Protection Program (PPP), a fund intended as a lifeline for businesses struggling amid the pandemic.
The university said it had instead benefited from the stimulus bill’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, which disburses money based on an institution’s overall number of students and how many lower-income students are enrolled.
The CARES Act reserved $12.5 billion in federal aid to about 5,000 colleges and universities.
Harvard was not the only elite university to receive a windfall under the stimulus. Princeton, which has a $26 billion endowment, is getting $2.4 million, while Yale – endowment $30 billion – is receiving $6.9 million.
On April 21, the US Senate approved another $330 billion of emergency relief funds to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic after the original aid package of $350 billion ran out of money last week.
The PPP was designed to help so-called mom-and-pop stores keep staff on the payroll during the coronavirus emergency that has left 22 million American workers claiming unemployment benefits.
However, instead of going towards such small businesses, nearly $250 billion of the initial stimulus went to publicly traded companies with market values topping $100 million, according to analysis from Morgan Stanley, an investment bank.
President Donald Trump has given governors guidance on reopening state economies in the coming months as the new coronavirus continues to spread across the US.
“Opening up America Again” guidelines outline three phases for states to gradually ease their lockdowns.
President Trump promised governors they would be handling the process themselves, with help from the federal government.
However, there has been a mixed reception to the plans, with a leading Democrat calling them vague and inconsistent.
The US currently has 699,044 confirmed cases and 36,849 deaths due to the virus, and President Trump has suggested some states could reopen this month.
In his daily briefing on April 16, the president declared “the next front in our war – opening up America again”.
He said: “America wants to be open and Americans want to be open. A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.”
The president said that a prolonged lockdown risked inflicting a serious toll on public health. He warned of a “sharp rise” in drug abuse, alcohol abuse, heart disease, and other “physical and mental” problems.
He told reporters that healthy citizens would be able to return to work “as conditions allow”. He said Americans would continue to be called upon to maintain social distancing measures and to stay home if they are unwell.
President Trump said that reopening the US economy would be done “one careful step at a time” but he called on state governors to move “very, very quickly, depending on what they want to do”.
Shortly afterwards, leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, called the new guidelines “vague and inconsistent”.
Nancy Pelosi said the document did “nothing to make up for the president’s failure to listen to the scientists and produce and distribute national rapid testing”.
The Trump administration’s 18-page guidance document details three phases to reopen state economies, with each phase lasting, at minimum, 14 days.
The guidelines include some recommendations across all three phases including good personal hygiene and employers developing policies to ensure social distancing, testing and contact tracing.
Phase one includes much of the current lockdown measures such as avoiding non-essential travel and not gathering in groups. But it says large venues such as restaurants, places of worship and sports venues “can operate under strict physical distancing protocols”.
If there is no evidence of a resurgence of the coronavirus, phase two allows non-essential travel to resume. The guidance says schools can reopen and bars can operate “with diminished standing-room occupancy”.
Under phase three, states which are still seeing a downward trend of symptoms and cases can allow “public interactions” with physical distancing and the unrestricted staffing of worksites. Visits to care homes and hospitals can resume and bars can increase their standing room capacity.
According to the document, some regions could begin returning to normal after a month-long evaluation period, at the earliest.
In places where there are more infections or where rates begin to rise, it could take longer.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, told at the April 16 briefing that as states worked through the three phases, they could allow for more and more employees to return to work in increments.
Phase three would be the “new normal”, she said, and would still include suggestions that vulnerable people should avoid crowded spaces.
Governor Cuomo criticized President Trump at his daily press briefing, telling reporters that this was the governors’ prerogative, not the president’s. Andrew Cuomo would “not engage” in a fight with President Trump, he claimed, but added he would have “no choice” if the president the threatened the welfare of New Yorkers.
President Trump drew rebuke after claiming on April 13 that he had the ultimate authority to lift lockdown orders, contradicting governors and legal experts.
On April 14, the president took the row to Twitter criticizing Andrew Cuomo and issuing an oblique snipe at other governors.
President Trump tweeted: “Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies.
“A good old fashioned mutiny every now and then is an exciting and invigorating thing to watch, especially when the mutineers need so much from the Captain.”
The movie tells the story of a ship’s revolt in which mutineers meet with unhappy ends, with President Trump appearing to compare himself to the captain.
He aimed particular fire at Andrew Cuomo, who he said was calling “daily, even hourly, begging for everything,” like hospitals, beds, ventilators for his state. New York remains the US state hardest-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, reporting 778 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Andrew Cuomo told CNN on April 14: “I put my hand out in total partnership and cooperation with the president.”
The comments follow President Trump’s assertion on April 13 that “the president of the United States calls the shots,” during a combative press conference in which he feuded with reporters.
However, the US Constitution says the states maintain public order and safety.
The Trump administration has signaled May 1st as a potential date for easing the restrictions.
The current White House recommendations for Americans to avoid restaurants and non-essential travel and keep in-person gatherings to no more than 10 people expire on April 30.
Andrew Cuomo described President Trump’s position as a “shift” for the president, who had left the shuttering of states to governors.
President Donald Trump also said he expects the US to see a lower death toll than the initial predictions of 100,000 fatalities, adding: “We’re seeing clear signs that our aggressive strategy is saving countless lives.”
The US now has at least 18,693 deaths and 500,399 confirmed cases. About half of the deaths were recorded in the New York area.
Italy has reported 18,849 deaths while globally more than 102,000 people have died with the virus.
Researchers had predicted the US death toll would hit its peak on April 10 and then gradually start to decline, falling to around 970 people a day by May 1 – the day members of the Trump administration have floated as a possible date to start reopening the economy.
President Trump said at a Good Friday briefing at the White House: “I want to get it open as soon as possible.
“I would say without question it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.”
However, no action would be taken until the government knew the “country [was] going to be healthy” the president said.
“We don’t want to go back and start doing it over again.”
As of April 4, there were almost 8,500 deaths from Covid-19 in the US, with most in New York state – the epicenter of the outbreak.
On the same day, New York state recorded 630 more Covid-19 deaths, another daily record that takes its toll to 3,565. New York state now has almost as many cases – over 113,000 – as the whole of Italy.
The president gave a candid assessment of what lies ahead for the US in the coming weeks.
He said: “This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn’t done but there will be death.”
To support states in their fight against Covid-19, President Trump said his administration would be deploying a “tremendous amount of military, thousands of soldiers, medical workers, professionals”.
The military personnel will “soon” be advised of their assignments, the president said, adding that “1,000 military personnel” were being deployed to New York City.
President Trump also addressed his use of the Defense Production Act, a Korean-War-era law which gives him powers to control the production and supply of US-made medical products.
He said he was “very disappointed” with 3M, a US company that makes masks, saying it “should be taking care of our country” instead of selling to others.
However, the president rejected accusations that the US had committed an act of “modern piracy” by redirecting 200,000 Germany-bound masks for its own use.
On the question of easing social-distancing restrictions, President Trump reiterated a familiar theme.
President Trump has said: “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”
Elsewhere in the world, there has been cause for optimism as the number of new infections and deaths from coronavirus has started to gradually diminish.
Globally, more than 60,000 people have died and more than 1.1 million have been infected, Johns Hopkins University says.
President Donald Trump has said he will not wear a face mask despite new medical guidelines advising Americans to do so.
He said he could not see himself greeting “presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens” in the Oval Office while wearing one.
President Trump stressed that the guidance released on April 3 was “voluntary”.
“You do not have to do it,” he said.
“I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
The guidelines issued by the CDC came as the US reported more than 1,100 deaths in a single day – the highest total for a 24-hour period anywhere in the world.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has so far confirmed 278,458 cases of Covid-19 and more than 7,000 deaths.
New York state remains the worst affected area, with nearly 3,000 deaths, and state governor Andrew Cuomo has appealed for help from other parts of the US.
Until now, US health authorities had said that only the sick, or those caring for patients of coronavirus, should wear masks, but newer studies suggest that covering up one’s face is important to prevent inadvertent transmission.
President Trump said on April 2: “From recent studies we know that the transmission from individuals without symptoms is playing a more significant role in the spread of the virus than previously understood.”
However, the president told reporters after announcing the CDC’s new guidance: “I just don’t want to do it myself.”
“Sitting in the Oval Office… I somehow don’t see it for myself.”
Americans are now advised to use clean cloth or fabric to cover their faces whilst in public. Officials have stressed that medical masks remain in short supply, and should be left for healthcare workers.
The CDC guidance comes as the number of cases globally climbs past one million.
President Trump announced the guidance at the White House daily coronavirus briefing, but repeatedly emphasized that the advisory was “voluntary”.
US infectious disease chief Anthony Fauci said that “as sobering a number as that [100,000] is, we should be prepared for it. Is it going to be that much? I hope not and the more we push on mitigation the less likely it would be that number.
“But being realistic, we need to prepare ourselves… it will be difficult – no one is denying we are going through a very difficult time right now.”
President Donald Trump is expected to help businesses in America by allowing them to delay payments on certain tariffs.
The US imposes tariffs – fees for importing certain products from overseas – on a raft of goods, including steel from China.
However, the president is expected to waive payment of these fees for 90 days to help improve US companies’ cashflows as they struggle with lockdowns.
The 90-day breathing space will apply to specific goods from “most-favored nations”, although these are not expected to include imports from China or Europe.
Around 400 chief executives of small, medium, and large companies in the US urged President Trump in a letter on March 31 to delay the collection of these fees for up to 180 days.
The cash would normally be paid direct to the US government.
The US last week became the country with the most reported cases, ahead of Italy and China.
Speaking during the latest Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House on March 29, President Trump said that measures such as social distancing were “the way you win”, adding that the US “will be well on our way to recovery” by June.
Suggesting that the “peak” of death rates in the US was likely to hit in two weeks, President Trump said that “nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory is won – that would be the greatest loss of all”.
Analysts suggest that when President Trump referred to a peak in the “death rate”, he probably meant the total number of recorded infections.
President Trump has signed into law the largest-ever US financial stimulus package, worth $2 trillion, as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
The House of Representatives passed the cross-party bill two days after the Senate debated its provisions.
On March 25, the number of Americans filing for unemployment surged to a record high of 3.3 million people.
As of March 27, the US has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 100,000 positive tests.
No Democratic lawmakers were invited to the historic signing ceremony, which was held at the White House, though the president thanked both parties “for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first”.
President Trump said the package was “twice as large” as any prior relief bill.
He said: “This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers and businesses.”
Just before signing the act into law, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), which gives the president the power to force private industries to create items required for national defense.
President Trump said the order will compel General Motors (GM) to manufacture much-needed medical ventilators for the federal government.
Earlier in the day, President Trump tweeted that GM had promised to “give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, very quickly “.
“Now they are saying it will only be 6,000, in late April, and they want top dollar,” he said, threatening to invoke the DPA.
During the bill signing, President Trump said that “tremendous [medical] supplies” would be coming soon, adding: “We’ve had great results on just about everything we’re talking about.”
On March 27, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight temporary hospitals to meet an expected surge in cases.
He said 519 people had died in the state – the worst-hit in the US – and there were 44,635 confirmed cases.
Democrats and Republicans in the Democratic-led House approved the stimulus package by voice vote on March 27 following a three-hour debate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “Our nation faces an economic and health emergency of historic proportions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst pandemic in over 100 years.”
Members of the House had been ready to conduct the vote at their homes but were forced to return to Washington at the last minute after a Republican representative from Kentucky demanded a quorum of half the chamber be present.
Thomas Massie – who objected to the stimulus package saying it contained too much spending – also sought to delay proceedings by demanding a formal recorded vote, as opposed to a voice vote, but was overruled.
President Trump vented his fury at Thomas Massie on Twitter, calling him a “third-rate grandstander” and demanding he be thrown out of the Republican party.
The new law enables direct payments to individuals and companies whose livelihoods and businesses have been affected by the pandemic.
It seeks to deliver $1,200 to every American earning less than $75,000 per year and $500 to the parents of every child.
The law also gives money directly to state governments, and bolsters the unemployment benefits program.
Under the law, jobless benefits will be extended to those not normally covered, such as freelancers and workers in the gig economy.
It also offers loans and tax breaks to companies that face going out of business, as one in every four Americans is ordered to remain at home and only go outside for essential needs.
Officials across the US have closed restaurants, bars, cinemas, hotels and gyms in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Auto companies have halted production and air travel has fallen dramatically. According to economists, a fifth of the US workforce is on some form of lockdown.
With almost 1,500 virus-related fatalities, the US death toll remains lower than those in Italy and China. But there are virus hotspots in New York, New Orleans and Detroit.
Asked how long the emergency will last, President Trump said: “People are talking about July, August, something like that, so it could be right in that period of time where I say, it washes through.”
The president continued: “They think August, could be July, could be longer than that.”
He said he was not considering a national curfew or lockdown, though added: “We may look at certain areas, certain hot spots as they call them.”
President Trump said he had not yet decided to close the US-Canada border, but told reporters it was something the administration was considering.
He also addressed issues of testing, as the US has been criticized for lagging far behind smaller countries in getting tests out to the states.
Officials said on March 16 that a million tests were currently available and more would be coming this week.
“A lot of testing has been going on,” President Trump said, though he also noted that those without symptoms should not get the test.
“Not everybody should run out and get the test, but we’re able to handle tremendous numbers.”
Health officials also said they are due to add 30 million masks to the US supply and are shipping out gear and health workers to bolster local testing efforts.
Asked how he would score his administration’s response to the crisis on a scale of one to 10, President Trump said: “I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job.”
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who joined the president, issued an appeal directly to millennials, asking them to limit social contact.
She said: “They are the core people that will stop this virus.
“We really want people to be separated.”
Dr. Birx also warned against socializing even if people feel well.
She said: “We know that there is a large group of infected people who are asymptomatic, who continue to spread the virus.”
VP Mike Pence, who is leading the coronavirus taskforce, told reporters he had not been tested yet.
He said: “I’m in regular consultation with the White House physician and he said I’ve not been exposed to anyone for any period of time that has had the coronavirus and that my wife and I have had no symptoms.”
President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to help handle the growing outbreak of COVID-19.
The move allows the federal government to tap up to $50 billion in emergency relief funds.
It loosens regulations on the provision of healthcare and could speed up testing – the slow pace of which has been criticized widely.
There are 1,701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 41 deaths.
Several states have taken measures to stem the infections rate, including banning large gatherings, sporting events and closing schools.
The new coronavirus originated in China last December, but Europe is now the “epicenter” of the global pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on March 13, as several European countries reported steep rises in infections and deaths.
Italy has recorded its highest daily toll yet – 250 over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall.
The Trump administration has come under recent scrutiny over its failure to provide Americans with widespread coronavirus testing.
The decision on the state of emergency was announced by President Trump in a live address from the White House Rose Garden.
The “next eight weeks are critical,” President Trump said.
What are the measures envisaged as part of the emergency response?
The US Health Secretary Alex Azar and health officials can waive certain laws and license requirements, giving more flexibility to healthcare providers.
Hospitals have been asked to activate their emergency preparedness plans.
Up to 500,000 additional coronavirus tests will be available by early next week, though authorities are not recommending tests without clear need; private labs and vaccine developers will be able to provide five million coronavirus tests within the month, though authorities are not recommending tests for those without symptoms.
Interest on all student loans is to be waived until further notice as a measure to ease the burden for students as universities and colleges across the country shut their doors.
Democrats in Congress and heavily-affected states had been urging President Trump to issue the order, which will also allow more people to qualify for government health insurance.
Urged again to explain why he hasn’t taken a coronavirus test following reports that he has been in the company of people who have tested positive recently, President Trump said he had no symptoms and there was no need for a test. But he added that he was likely to have one “fairly soon”, anyway.
President Trump’s travel ban on 26 European countries, which was met with anger and confusion this week, will go into effect on March 13 at midnight EDT.
The 1988 Stafford Act gives the president alone the ability to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to co-ordinate a national response to “natural catastrophes” within the US.
There are currently more than 30 national emergencies in effect.
President Trump has declared several national emergencies in his presidency, including one last year to redirect military funds to build a southern border wall to prevent illegal immigration.