Trump Finally Agrees To Biden Transition, But Still Not Conceding

(L-R) Joe Biden and Donald Trump

 

President Donald Trump came his closest yet to admitting election defeat Monday after the government agency meant to ease Joe Biden’s transition into the White House said it was finally lifting its unprecedented block on assistance.

Trump acknowledged it was time for the General Services Administration to “do what needs to be done.”

In the same tweet he insisted that he was still refusing to concede, saying: “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!”

But for the Republican to sign off on the GSA’s decision to work with the Biden transition team signaled that even he sees the writing on the wall after three weeks of evidence-free claims that the November 3 election was stolen from him.

This means that Biden’s team will now have access to funds, office space and the ability to meet with federal officials.

Biden’s office, which hours earlier announced a highly experienced group to be nominated for top US foreign policy and security posts, said the GSA would now allow “support necessary to carry out a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.”

“In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies,” Biden’s transition director Yohannes Abraham said in a statement.

The sudden break in Trump’s dogged attempt to deny Biden’s win came after Michigan became the latest state to certify its results and more powerful Trump supporters came out demanding that the impasse end.

Biden To Shift Diplomacy

Earlier, Biden announced a foreign policy and national security team crammed with veterans from the Barack Obama years, teeing up an end to the upheaval under Trump and a return to traditional US diplomacy.

Top of the list was former State Department number two Antony Blinken, tapped for secretary of state.

Biden also named the first female head of intelligence, the first Latino chief of Homeland Security, the first woman as treasury secretary, and a heavyweight pointman on climate issues — Obama-era top diplomat John Kerry.

The list put out by Biden’s team ahead of a formal announcement Tuesday demonstrated a push to bring back the US role of leader in multilateral alliances, in contrast to Trump’s “America first” regime.

“They will rally the world to take on our challenges like no other — challenges that no one nation can face alone,” Biden tweeted. “It’s time to restore American leadership.”

Blinken, a longtime advisor to Biden, will spearhead a fast-paced dismantling of Trump’s go-it-alone policies, including rejoining the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organization and resurrecting the Obama-crafted Iran nuclear deal.

Biden named the first woman, Avril Haines, as director of national intelligence, and Cuban-born Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security, the agency whose policing of tough immigration restrictions under Trump was a frequent source of controversy.

Signaling the Democratic president-elect’s campaign promise to raise the profile of global warming threats, he named Kerry as a new special envoy on climate issues.

And in a further message of US reengagement with the international community, Biden named career diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador.

Jake Sullivan, who also advised Biden when he was vice president under Obama, was named national security advisor.

Picked to manage the world’s biggest economy as Treasury secretary was Janet Yellen, who will make history as the first woman in the job if confirmed. The 74-year-old was confirmed as Federal Reserve chairwoman under Obama in 2014 and replaced by Trump four years later.

The picks underline an emphasis on professionals whom Biden already knows well, in contrast to the Trump White House where officials were often picked without having traditional background for the job or proved incompatible and departed in acrimony.

Dwindling Options

The president, meanwhile, has largely halted at least his public work duties, while heading out to a golf course he owns in Virginia half a dozen times since the election.

He has also not taken questions from reporters since the election — a previously unimaginable silence from a president who for most of his time in office sparred near daily with the press.

His options for overturning the election, however, are dwindling rapidly in the face of repeated court defeats.

With Biden having won a comfortable victory, Trump’s last card is to disrupt the normally routine process of state-by-state certification of results, followed by the formal December 14 vote by the Electoral College. However, that too is bearing little fruit.

More cracks appeared in the facade of Republican unity on Monday when Senator Rob Portman said it was “time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward.”

Senator Lamar Alexander, a senior Republican and close ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said “it seems apparent that Joe Biden will be the president-elect.”

“My hope is that President Trump will take pride in his considerable accomplishments, put the country first and have a prompt and orderly transition to help the new administration succeed,” he said after having issued a similar if less forthright statement a few days earlier.

There was also a push from Trump’s highest profile Wall Street backer, Stephen Schwarzman, head of the Blackstone private equity group, who told Axios “the country should move on.”

Biden Appoints Campaign Aides To Key White House Positions

US President-elect Joe Biden answers questions from the press at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on November 16, 2020.   ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP
US President-elect Joe Biden answers questions from the press at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on November 16, 2020. ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

 

US President-elect Joe Biden announced Tuesday he has appointed nine close campaign aides to key White House positions as he fleshes out a diverse leadership team less than a week after naming his chief of staff.

“America faces great challenges, and they bring diverse perspectives and a shared commitment to tackling these challenges and emerging on the other side a stronger, more united nation,” Biden said in a statement.

The new appointees — some of the first among hundreds that Biden will name to the White House in the coming months — include his 2020 campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon being named deputy chief of staff.

The 44-year-old will serve under White House chief of staff Ron Klain, whom Biden appointed last week.

A veteran of seven presidential campaigns, O’Malley Dillon served as deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama’s successful 2012 reelection effort.

Campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond, a House Democrat from Louisiana, was named senior advisor to the president.

The African-American lawmaker, 47, will leave his seat in Congress to take his White House job when Biden is inaugurated on January 20.

Biden also named Mike Donilon, a chief strategist for his campaign and a veteran Democratic tactician, to serve as senior advisor to the president.

“The team we have already started to assemble will enable us to meet the challenges facing our country on day one,” Klain said in the statement.

Other appointments include the chief of staff and senior advisor to incoming First Lady Jill Biden, a counsel to the president and a director of Oval Office operations.

The appointments come as President Donald Trump continues to challenge the results of the November 3 election and refuses to concede the race to Biden, and as his administration has declined to formally cooperate with Biden’s transition team.

 

AFP

Trump, Biden Battle For Florida On Same Day As Race Nears End

FILES) In this file photo taken on September 29, 2020 US President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden exchange arguments during the first presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. The presidential debate between Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump scheduled for October 15 has been cancelled by the Commission on Presidential Debates, US media reported on October 9, 2020.
Jim WATSON / AFP

 

President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden will rally voters just hours apart in the Florida city of Tampa on Thursday, their campaign paths crossing for the first time as the rivals’ fight for the White House enters its frenetic final days.

Florida is a must-win prize, and polls show the candidates in a dead heat in America’s third-largest state, which has sided with the winner in every presidential election since 1964, with one exception.

The candidates’ events are sure to be a study in contrasts, with Trump’s largely mask-less and densely packed supporters gathering in the afternoon, and Biden holding a socially distanced drive-in meeting later in the evening.

A day prior, Trump was stumping in Arizona, while Biden voted in his home state of Delaware and met with health experts, as he fine-tuned his pandemic response plan, seeking to reassure voters that he would use science to fight the contagion.

The virus has killed more than 227,000 people in the US and forced millions out of work in the world’s largest economy as a resurgent wave of cases was reaching record levels.

“I’m not running on a false promise of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch,” said the 77-year-old former vice president, who has a strong lead in opinion polls.

“But what I can promise you is this: We’ll start on Day 1 by doing the right thing. We’ll let science guide our decisions.”

On Saturday, Biden is to get some star power when he is joined on the stump in Michigan by Barack Obama, whom he served as vice president.

It will be their first joint in-person appearance of the 2020 race, though Obama has been delivering strategically timed broadsides at Trump throughout.

Trump, by contrast, is finishing his campaign in an extreme test of endurance, with a final attempt to catch up both in swing states and also states that he won in 2016 but now has to defend.

After rallying supporters in three states Tuesday, Trump, 74, overnighted in a fourth — Nevada — and then flew to Arizona for two more rallies.

On an airport tarmac in Bullhead City, Arizona, Trump all but ignored the Covid-19 crisis, and many supporters did not bother with masks as they cheered his defiant insistence on a landslide victory November 3.

“It’s going to be a great, great red wave,” he boomed, referring to the Republican color.

“We love you! We love you!” the enthusiastic crowd chanted back.

At another rally, in Goodyear, Arizona, Trump predicted he’d repeat his 2016 upset, saying: “We’re going to have an even bigger surprise in six days.”

– Under shadow of Covid –
The pandemic has upended all aspects of American life and overshadowed the election, with polls showing it may well be the president’s undoing as cases hit record levels in the US.

With many Americans fearing the risk of voting in crowded polling stations, a remarkable 74.7 million people have already cast their ballots.

Some 57.4 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s coronavirus response, while 39.8 percent approve, according to a poll average compiled by tracker FiveThirtyEight.com.

Biden has seized on that to build an impressive advantage in polls heading into the final week and is looking to expand his state-by-state path to victory.

On Tuesday, Biden visited Georgia, traditionally Republican territory, and he has said he will travel to Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan in the race’s closing days.

All are states that Trump won in 2016 but that are up for grabs this year.

On Wednesday, Trump kept up his scorn for Biden’s focus on health safety, saying that the Democrat would destroy the country through more lockdowns.

“If you vote for Biden, it means no kids in school, no graduation, no Christmas and no Fourth of July together. Other than that, you’ll have a wonderful life.”

But Trump’s own chief infectious disease specialist, Anthony Fauci, warned Wednesday that even if a Covid-19 vaccine is released this year, it will take to “the end of 2021 and perhaps even into the next year” to reach “some semblances of normality.”

Top Aide To Pence Tests Positive For COVID-19

In this file photo taken on January 15, 2020 Chief of Staff to the Vice President Marc Short (L) is seen before the signing of a trade agreement between the US and China during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

US Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, a spokesman said, the latest in a list of figures connected to Donald Trump’s administration to do so.

Marc Short began quarantine and was assisting in the contract tracing process, Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement.

“Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for Covid-19 today, and remain in good health,” he added.

Pence, who has been campaigning ahead of the November 3 election, will maintain his current schedule in consultation with White House doctors, said the spokesman.

A surge in Covid-19 cases led to the United States reaching a record number of daily infections for a second day running on Saturday, with nearly 89,000 new cases.

A list of people connected to the White House have contracted the virus, including President Trump, who was hospitalized before recovering.

Trump has downplayed the seriousness of the virus, calling for businesses to reopen so the economy can recover.

Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent in the upcoming polls, has repeatedly criticized Trump’s handling of the health crisis.

The virus has claimed more than 224,000 American lives.

AFP

Biden Faces US Voters At Town Hall, Trump Heads Back To Wisconsin

WILMINGTON, DE – SEPTEMBER 16: Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden waves as he leaves the Hotel Dupont after having internal campaign meetings on September 16, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Earlier in the day, Biden participated in a briefing with medical professionals about the coronavirus vaccine. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

White House hopeful Joe Biden on Thursday holds his first extended face-to-face with voters since winning the Democratic nomination, a town hall where he will likely savage President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

With less than seven weeks before Election Day, Biden has ramped up his public appearances after spending large chunks of time at his Delaware home, even as Trump repeatedly barnstorms swing states.

Now both candidates are hitting the physical campaign trail in earnest, although still in very different ways.

Trump returns to Wisconsin Thursday for a public rally fueled by his signature bravado — a contrast to Biden’s quieter style of connecting with blue collar and everyday voters.

Ahead of his departure, Trump railed on Twitter against the move by many states to encourage voters to mail in their ballots, thereby avoiding possible coronavirus risks in polling stations.

The shift, which is popular with Democrats, will promote “ELECTION MAYHEM,” he tweeted, claiming that the results of the November 3 vote “may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED.”

He offered no evidence for his claims, and mail-in voting, which has been regularly used in previous elections, has never been tied to any wide-scale fraud.

Biden is attempting to project a calming alternative to Trump’s fury.

At the CNN town hall, he will take questions from a live, socially distanced audience on what could be described as his home turf — Scranton, the scrappy Pennsylvania city where he was born.

But the town hall event carries risks for a candidate who has done few unscripted encounters in the last months.

The 77-year-old former vice president has largely kept close to his home in Delaware during the pandemic, which has so far killed nearly 200,000 Americans. His go-to events have been speeches, with reporters rarely able to ask questions.

He has traveled to swing states like Wisconsin, Florida and Pennsylvania, but has dodged crowds and engages with voters only in small, controlled settings.

Trump has badgered his rival for remaining cloistered in his “basement” and declining to engage in more traditional campaign events.

Local officials briefed on the town hall plans told US media that it will take place in a stadium parking lot, and that pre-approved attendees will drive in and park near the stage.

CNN said it will adhere to Pennsylvania pandemic guidelines, which limit gatherings to less than 250 people.

– Growing animosity –

The dueling events come one day after each candidate homed in on the pandemic as a campaign issue — and offered dramatically different views of how the Trump administration has responded.

Biden delivered a scathing speech in which he said “I don’t trust Donald Trump” to provide a vaccine free from any political interference.

The Republican incumbent meanwhile insisted a vaccine could be ready this year, directly contradicting the timeline offered by a top government health official.

Trump said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield, one of the most prominent experts overseeing US pandemic response, “made a mistake” and “was confused” when he testified to lawmakers Wednesday that a safe and effective vaccine would not be widely available until mid-2021.

Trump also criticized Redfield for renewing his call for Americans to wear face masks as their best defense against spreading Covid-19.

Biden routinely appears at functions wearing a mask. Trump almost never does, and he mocks Biden for doing so.

Biden’s town hall comes two days after Trump appeared in a similar setting, also in Pennsylvania — in Philadelphia.

Critics panned the president’s performance, including his insistence that he had not downplayed the coronavirus threat, even though he acknowledged doing just that in a taped interview with journalist Bob Woodward.

The animosity has ramped up between Trump and Biden ahead of their first debate, scheduled for September 29 in Ohio.

Biden has consistently led Trump in national polls.

He is also ahead in several key battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all states won by Trump in his shock 2016 election victory — although by dwindling margins.

AFP

Trump’s Aide, Kellyanne Conway Steps Down

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 06, 2020 Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, talks to reporters outside the White House, in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

 

Kellyanne Conway, a long-serving advisor to President Donald Trump known for sparring with reporters, announced Sunday she will step down to focus on her family.

Conway, 53, has been at Trump’s side since day one, managing his 2016 campaign that catapulted the reality TV star into the world’s most powerful office.

But the past four years of singular loyalty to Trump, including defending him on TV and with informal “gaggles” with the press, have taken a toll on the combative spin doctor who coined the phrase “alternative facts.”

While she made a name for herself as one of Trump’s sharpest defenders, her husband, prominent Washington lawyer George Conway, is a strident critic of the president, repeatedly and loudly questioning his mental fitness for office.

“I will be transitioning from the White House at the end of this month,” she said in a statement.

“George is also making changes. We disagree about plenty but we are united on what matters most: the kids.”

White House Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway (C) speaks during a briefing on the opioid crisis at the White House in Washington, DC.    NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

 

She said their four children would be starting the new academic year remotely.

“As millions of parents nationwide know, kids ‘doing school from home’ requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times,” she said.

“For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.”

Her announcement came a day after her 15-year-old daughter Claudia tweeted that she was “devastated” that her mother would speak at the Republican convention, and pledged to seek legal emancipation “due to years of childhood trauma and abuse.”

 ‘Alternative facts’ 

Separately, George Conway said he would be stepping back from the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans he co-founded, and taking a break from Twitter, which he frequently used to assail the president.

The dislike was mutual, with Trump calling him the “husband from hell.”

Kellyanne Conway came to prominence just days after Trump took office for coining the term “alternative facts” while defending the debunked White House claim that the 45th president’s inauguration crowd was larger than Obama’s.

In 2017 she referred to a non-existent terrorist attack, “the Bowling Green massacre,” to defend Trump’s immigration ban.

During Trump’s term she was both famous and notorious for sparring with the media, often by finding a way to change the topic, turn the question back on the reporter, or merely complain.

She did all of it with a flamboyant fashion sense — snake-skin pattern dress one day, a bright red one the next — standing out in an often-gray city.

Her work led her at one point to be depicted on the long-running US comedy show Saturday Night Live as “Kellywise”, a spoof of the murderous, sewer-dwelling clown from horror novel and film “It”.

A lawyer and pollster by training, she also stuck out her White House role while a parade of other aides was forced out, quit or left in humiliation.

In her statement, Conway described her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as “heady” and “humbling” and said her departure was her call.

“This is completely my choice and my voice. In time, I will announce future plans.”

AFP

Trump Ushered From Briefing After Shots Fired Near White House

US President Donald Trump is being removed by a member of the secret service from the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

Secret Service guards shot a person, who was apparently armed, outside the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump said just after being briefly evacuated in the middle of a press conference.

The president was abruptly ushered out of the press event and black-clad secret service agents with automatic rifles rushed across the lawn north of the White House.

Minutes later, Trump reappeared at the press conference, where journalists had been locked in, and announced that someone had been shot outside the White House grounds.

 

 Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.” (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The Secret Service tweeted that it “can confirm there has been an officer involved shooting at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.”

“Law enforcement shot someone, it seems to be, the suspect. And the suspect is on the way to the hospital,” he said.

Trump said he knew nothing about the identity or motives of the person shot, but when asked if the person had been armed, he answered: “From what I understand, the answer is yes.”

“It might not have had anything to do with me,” Trump added, saying the incident took place “on the outside” of the White House perimeter.

“I don’t believe anything was breached, they were relatively far away,” he added.

 

Police activity at the entrance to Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House shortly after Secret Service guards shot a person who was apparently armed, outside the White House on August 10, 2020 while US President Donald Trump was speaking to the press in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Outside the White House, the situation was calm, but a portion of the surrounding streets had been blocked off, with a number of police and other official vehicles converging towards the corner of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Philipos Melaku, a protester who has been camping in front of the White House for years, said he had heard a shot fired at around 5:50 pm (2150 GMT).

“I heard a gunshot and before that I heard screaming,” he told AFP.

“It was a male voice,” he said. “After that immediately, pointing their AR-15s, at least eight or nine men came in running.”

 

Police cars block the entrance to Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House shortly after Secret Service guards shot a person who was apparently armed, outside the White House on August 10, 2020 while US President Donald Trump was speaking to the press in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Following the security scare, Trump returned almost immediately to the White House podium where he resumed his scheduled press conference.

Asked if he was rattled by the incident, he replied: “The world’s always been a dangerous place. It’s not something that’s unique.”

Trump went onto praise the Secret Service as “fantastic people, the best of the best.”

“I feel very safe with Secret Service,” he said. “A lot of terrific looking people ready to go if something was necessary.”

 

A US Secret Service uniform officer’s bike is seen laying on the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP)

 

-AFP

Twitter Flags President Trump’s Tweet For ‘Glorifying Violence’, White House Responds

In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone with President Trump's Twitter page shown in the background on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia.  Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile phone with President Trump’s Twitter page shown in the background on May 27, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Social media platform, Twitter, on Friday flagged US President Donald Trump’s tweet about the protests and violence in Minneapolis, Minnesota for “glorifying violence,” leading to a response from the American White House.

Trump had tweeted about the protests which followed the death of a black man, George Floyd who was filmed saying he could not breathe as a white police officer used his knee to pin him down.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump had tweeted. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

According to Twitter, the company flagged the tweet in what it tagged a “public interest notice.”

The implication is that the tweet will not be taken out of the social media platform but hidden under a notice reading: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.”

Twitter, has, however, said, “As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.”

In response, the official White House account called Twitter’s bluff by retweeting the same post. This time, Twitter responded by saying that while it violated its rules, the company “determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

The White House later defended Trump’s tweet, saying, “The President did not glorify violence. He clearly condemned it.”

And Trump’s social media director and Twitter feed manager, Dan Scavino, had his own response.

“Twitter is full of shit — more and more people are beginning to get it,” he wrote on Twitter.

The latest spat came a day after Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office seeking to transform the way social media companies are regulated. That followed Trump’s fury over Twitter tagging two of his tweets with fact checks, which was also an unprecedented measure.

Executive Order

On Thursday, Trump had issued an executive order seeking to strip social media giants like Twitter of legal immunity for content posted by users.

If this was enacted, the likes of Twitter and Facebook would become open to lawsuits and greatly increased government regulation.

Trump — angered this week after Twitter tagged one of his tweets for the first time with a fact-check notice — said regulation was needed because the companies are no longer neutral forums but engaging in “political activism.”

According to Trump, such platforms have “unchecked power to censor, restrict… virtually any form of communication between private citizens.”

“We can’t let that happen,” he said, “especially when they go about doing what they’re doing because they’re doing things incorrectly, they have points of view.”

Trump Signs Executive Order To Keep Meat Processing Plants Open

In this file photo US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey, January 28, 2020.
In this file photo, US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey, January 28, 2020.

 

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order compelling meat packing plants to stay open, despite a string of coronavirus deaths, in a bid to secure US food supplies, the White House said Tuesday.

“President Trump is signing an Executive Order providing the authority to ensure the continued supply of beef, pork, and poultry to the American people,” the White House said in a statement.

“Under the order, the Department of Agriculture is directed to ensure America’s meat and poultry processors continue operations uninterrupted to the maximum extent possible.”

The statement added that the processing plants will be fully compliant with the CDC guidelines on health and safety during the pandemic.

Trump had said earlier in the White House that the details of order were being drawn up for signing but gave no specifics.

The facilities, where animals are slaughtered and processed into food sold in shops, have long struggled with safety and sanitary issues.

Facing alarming rates of the novel coronavirus among workers in the often tightly packed work spaces, some suppliers have closed down.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Trump Speaks With Buhari, ‘To Send Ventilators’ – Lai Mohammed

As warnings mount that stores will run out, Trump will invoke the Defense Production Act to compel the meatpacking businesses to keep working.

United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the nation’s largest meatpacking union, said more safety precautions were needed.

“At least 20 meatpacking workers have tragically died from coronavirus while more than 5,000 workers have been hospitalized or are showing symptoms,” UFCW President Marc Perrone said in a statement.

“While we share the concern over the food supply, today’s executive order to force meatpacking plants to stay open must put the safety of our country’s meatpacking workers first,” he added.

“Simply put, we cannot have a secure food supply without the safety of these workers.”

Last week, meatpacking giant Tyson Foods announced the temporary closure of its plant in Pasco, Washington state, which it says usually produces enough beef in a day for four million people.

A big pork plant in South Dakota run by Smithfield Foods and two JBS cattle slaughterhouses are among the others to have shut their doors.

AFP

White House To Take Temperature Of All Visitors, Staff

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the press briefing room at the White House on March 15, 2020, in Washington, DC. PHOTO: TASOS KATOPODIS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Anyone entering the White House will have their temperature taken, an official said on Sunday, tightening preventive measures against the coronavirus one day after US President Donald Trump tested negative.

Fever is a symptom of COVID-19, the new disease that has killed more than 6,400 people worldwide and which the United States is scrambling to contain.

Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said the checks would be carried out from Monday morning on anyone who comes into the White House complex — including officials, advisors, and journalists.

“As was announced over the weekend, additional temperature checks will be conducted on individuals who are in close contact with the president and vice president throughout the day,” he added.

Trump, 73, was tested for the virus after coming in contact with several members of a Brazilian presidential delegation visiting his Florida resort who have since tested positive.

His physician said Saturday that the result was negative and the president was symptom-free.

Over the weekend, the White House began checking the temperature of people in close contact with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as a precaution.

AFP

Why I May ‘Likely’ Take Coronavirus Test – Trump

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump said Friday he would “likely” be tested soon for the novel coronavirus, although he stressed he is “displaying no symptoms.”

Trump was pressed repeatedly during a White House news conference on whether he should be tested after coming into contact with a Brazilian official now known to have COVID-19.

The president initially shut down the question, saying that per the advice of White House doctors, “I don’t have any of the symptoms.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: Trump ‘May’ Add Britain To European Travel Ban

“And we don’t want people without symptoms to go and do the test,” he told reporters.

But when grilled by reporters about his encounter with the official at his Florida resort, he changed tack, saying: “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to be tested” and that he “most likely” would be, “fairly soon.”

“Not for that reason but because I think I will do it anyway,” Trump said.

AFP

Trump Declares State Of Emergency On Coronavirus

US President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump announced a national state of emergency on Friday, freeing up $50 billion in federal funds for the battle against the coronavirus pandemic as he vowed to “vastly” ramp up testing capacity.

“To unleash the full power of the federal government, I’m officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump told a news conference on the White House lawn.

“The next eight weeks are critical,” he said. “We can learn and we will turn a corner on this virus.”

Trump called on all US states to set up emergency operation centers and said the government was partnering with the private sector to “vastly increase and accelerate our capacity to test” for the virus, amid criticism about a lack of test kits nationwide.

“I’m also asking every hospital in this country to activate emergency preparedness plan to meet the needs of Americans everywhere,” Trump said.

“We’ll remove or eliminate every obstacle necessary to deliver our people the care that they need and that they’re entitled to. No resource will be spared, nothing whatsoever,” he added.

READ ALSO: US Summons Chinese Ambassador For Spreading COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory

The national emergency would also confer broad new authority on the US health secretary to waive a series of regulations, including on telemedicine or allowing hospitals to bring additional staff on board.

US authorities have come under fire for lagging behind in deploying test kits, which leading health experts have said allowed the virus to spread beyond the country’s ability to detect it.

The Trump administration announced earlier Friday it was providing almost $1.3 million in funding to two labs to develop tests that return results in about one hour — DiaSorin Molecular of California and QIAGEN of Maryland.

The US Food and Drug Administration has already given emergency approval to Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche for a new and much faster coronavirus test.

As a result of the Roche approval, Trump said half a million additional tests were expected to be available “early next week,” with details on test locations to be announced Sunday night.

He said he hoped another 1.4 million tests could be available next week, and five million within a month.

AFP