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White House virus task force member says ‘none of us lie’ after Trump retweets accusation

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A top member of the White House coronavirus task force said Tuesday that health officials don’t lie to the public, an accusation U.S. President Donald Trump had retweeted, and that while kids need to be back in school as Trump insists, the virus must first be under control.

Admiral Brett Giroir’s comment came a day after Trump shared a Twitter post from a former game show host who, without evidence, accused government medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, of lying.

Trump himself has at times disregarded the advice of his medical experts on the task force and continues to play down the threat from the virus as it spikes across the country, forcing some states to slow or reverse steps to reopen their economies.

Asked on NBC’s Today whether the CDC and other doctors are lying, Giroir allowed that mistakes have been made and that public guidance is updated when more is learned about the virus, “but none of us lie. We are completely transparent with the American people.” 

He appealed to people to wear masks, practise physical distancing and to avoid bars and other tightly packed areas.

The United States is the worst-affected country in terms of infections, followed by Brazil and India. As of 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the global coronavirus case count stood at 13,177,855, with 574,793 deaths due to the virus and 7,303,490 cases considered recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.

WATCH | Infectious disease specialist on mandatory masks and avoiding a lockdown:

Quebec’s move to impose mask wearing across the province while opening up more is a reasonable trade-off, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch. 6:01

Florida reported a record increase in COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday with 132, raising the state’s total deaths to more than 4,500. The state recorded over 9,000 new cases on Tuesday, down from 12,000 on Monday and a record increase of 15,000 on Sunday. Alabama also reported a daily record increase of 40 deaths, bringing that state’s total to over 1,100.

With U.S. virus cases spiking and the death toll mounting, the White House has worked to undercut Dr. Anthony Fauci, its most trusted coronavirus expert, and play down the danger as Trump pushes to get the economy moving before he faces voters in November.

Four former heads of the CDC accused the Trump administration of dangerously undermining the organization in a story published by the Washington Post.

Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher and Richard Besser said the CDC’s “sound science is being challenged with partisan potshots, sowing confusion and mistrust at a time when the American people need leadership, expertise and clarity.”

“These efforts have even fuelled a backlash against public health officials across the country: Public servants have been harassed, threatened and forced to resign when we need them most. This is unconscionable and dangerous,” they wrote.

Meanwhile, schools from Milwaukee, Wisc., to Fort Bend County, Texas, joined California’s two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, in announcing plans to keep schools closed to start the new school year.

The decision puts the districts at odds with Trump, who has threatened to withhold federal funds or remove tax-exempt status if they refuse to reopen classrooms, even though most schools are financed by state and local taxes.

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 108,382 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 72,080 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,834.

The agreement to restrict travel across the Canada-U.S. border will be extended into August, CBC News confirmed on Tuesday. Senior government officials said the arrangement limiting border access to essential travel only will be rolled over for another 30 days.

The agreement, which has to be reviewed each month, was set to expire on July 21. It’s now being renewed for the fourth time since the border closed to non-essential traffic on March 21. News of the extension was first reported by Reuters.

The extension comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on the phone Monday about a range of issues that included the border closure.

WATCH | Ontario Premier Doug Ford on potential deal with Ottawa to help municipalities: 

‘We need a federal strategy,’ says Ontario Premier Doug Ford, after Toronto Mayor John Tory warns that the financial impact of COVID-19 may force service cuts or tax hikes. 1:19

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday said a federal strategy is needed to help municipalities weather the impact of COVID-19 and that such a deal is “very close” to getting done.

Ford said other premiers including Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, B.C.’s John Horgan and Alberta’s Jason Kenney have been involved in the negotiations with Ottawa. “Hopefully by the end of this week, myself and all the other premiers will agree with the deal … We feel we’re close,” he said.

His comments came hours after Toronto Mayor John Tory pleaded for provincial and federal funding as the city stares down a $1.35-billion deficit.


Here’s what’s happening around the world

Wearing masks will be compulsory in all enclosed public spaces in the next weeks in France, where there are signs that COVID-19 is returning somewhat, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

In a television interview on Bastille Day, where nurses in white coats replaced uniformed soldiers as the stars, Macron also said he wished that COVID-19 testing would be available for everyone.

The national holiday’s usual grandiose military parade was recalibrated to honour medics who died fighting COVID-19, supermarket cashiers, postal workers and other heroes of the pandemic.

For some, the national homage is not nearly enough to make up for the equipment and staff shortages that plagued public hospitals as the virus raced across France, claiming more than 30,000 lives. Activists sent a banner above the ceremony tied to balloons reading: “Behind the tributes, Macron is suffocating hospitals.”

WATCH | France honours health-care workers on Bastille Day:

Front-line health-care workers in the coronavirus pandemic were the guests of honour in a scaled down version of the usually grandiose national holiday celebrations.  1:45

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Tuesday that the wearing of face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England. The requirement is expected to take effect starting July 24.

Children under 11 and those with certain disabilities will be exempt. Anyone not wearing a face covering in the environments outlined by the government could be fined £100 ($170 Cdn) and stores can refuse entry to anyone failing to comply.

“We are not out of the woods yet, so let us all do our utmost to keep this virus cornered and enjoy summer safely,” Hancock told lawmakers in the House of Commons.

Already, people in England have to wear face coverings on public transportation and in hospital settings; Scotland has already made masks mandatory in stores.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wore a face mask when he met with paramedics and science students on Monday. Britain is expected to make masks mandatory for people visiting stores. (Ben Stansall/Pool/The Associated Press)

Spain’s Catalonia region approved a resolution on Tuesday to place the residents of the city of Lleida and seven nearby towns under home confinement to stem a surge in coronavirus infections, after a judge earlier ruled that such a measure was unlawful.

The confinement will come into force on Wednesday and last for 15 days, Catalan regional government spokesperson Meritxell Budo told reporters. Some 160,000 people within the affected area must return to home confinement except for work and other specific activities, less than a month after the country’s national lockdown was lifted.

Israel’s Health Ministry said the country has confirmed 1,681 new coronavirus cases, a daily record high for the country. Israel was widely praised for taking swift action early in the pandemic by closing its borders and imposing other restrictions to contain the virus’s spread.

But since reopening the economy and schools in May following a more than month-long lockdown, the number of new cases has steadily increased. Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levi said Tuesday that the government is making every effort to try to avoid another countrywide lockdown.

In Iran, a semi-official news agency said Tehran’s governor has imposed new restrictions because of a spike in coronavirus cases, ordering mosques and several businesses closed for a week in the Iranian capital.

According to the Tasnim news agency, Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpey, the governor, said the measures would apply to mosques, beauty salons, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and coffee shops.

The development on Tuesday comes after Iran has seen a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths in recent weeks.

South Africa announced 11,554 new coronavirus cases and is among the world’s 10 biggest outbreaks, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins. South Africa now has 287,796 cases with more than a third in Gauteng province, home of major city Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria.

The country is under newly tightened restrictions including a ban on alcohol sales, mandatory face masks in public places and an overnight curfew.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has more than 33,000 cases and is struggling with shortages of medical equipment and personnel. Coronavirus cases across the continent have climbed above 600,000 as the pandemic continues to pick up speed.

A member of the Johannesburg police talks to a driver during a patrol on Monday as a nighttime curfew was reimposed amid a nationwide lockdown. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

India’s number of coronavirus cases jumped by another 28,000 on Tuesday and is fast approaching one million. The 28,498 cases reported in the past 24 hours took the national total to 906,752. The Health Ministry also reported another 553 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,727.

India has largely lifted its nationwide lockdown, and the virus has been spreading at a significant rate, prompting several big cities to impose partial lockdowns. The southern city of Pune started a 10-day lockdown Tuesday in an attempt to break the chain of infections. Eight of India’s 28 states, including the worst-hit Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi, account for nearly 90 per cent of cases.

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment take part in a check-up campaign in Mumbai. (Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters)

Hong Kong will impose strict new physical distancing measures from midnight Tuesday, the most stringent in the Asian financial hub since the coronavirus broke out, as authorities warn the risk of a large-scale outbreak is extremely high.

The Chinese-ruled territory recorded 48 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, including 40 that were locally transmitted, health authorities said. Since late January, Hong Kong has reported over 1,500 cases and eight deaths.

Signs encouraging customers to practise physical distancing are seen inside a Hong Kong restaurant. (Yik Lam/Reuters)

China said the number of people in treatment for COVID-19 in the country has fallen to just 297, with only three new cases of coronavirus reported, all brought from outside the country.

No new deaths were announced, leaving the total at 4,634 out of 83,605 cases of the disease. Another 115 people are in isolation and being monitored for either being suspected cases or having the disease without showing any symptoms.

Published at Tue, 14 Jul 2020 11:02:29 +0000

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