Coronavirus pandemic in the US

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2:00 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Trump says he won't sign more funding for US Postal Service unless it raises prices on some packages

US Postal Service worker Lou Martini goes about his daily delivery route during the coronavirus pandemic on April 15, in Kings Park, New York.
US Postal Service worker Lou Martini goes about his daily delivery route during the coronavirus pandemic on April 15, in Kings Park, New York. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Trump attacked the US Postal Service, calling it “a joke” during Friday’s Oval Office bill signing ceremony.

Trump said that the postal service needs to raise the price of a package, “approximately four times” because they are currently losing money delivering packages for Amazon “and other internet companies.”

“The Postal Service is a joke, because they are handing out packages for Amazon and other internet companies, and every time they bring a package, they lose money on it,” Trump said. 

Trump said that the Postal Service is “very cozy with some of these companies” which is why, according to Trump, they wont raise the price on packages.

“But they don't want to raise, because they don't want to insult Amazon and they don't want to insult other companies, perhaps, that they like. The post office should raise the price of the packages to the companies, not to the people, to the companies and if they did that, it would be a whole different story,” Trump said.

Some background: The Postal Service is a government agency, but it operates as an independent business without direct taxpayer support. It has lost $65 billion over the last 11 fiscal years.

Amazon has a confidential agreement with the Postal Service where it delivers large numbers of packages directly to the post office nearest to where they need to be delivered. The Postal Service then delivers the packages the "last mile" to their destinations. The Postal Service says the law requires that such negotiated contracts cover its costs, and that regulators have studied the Amazon contract and approved it.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that there was a $10 million loan provided to the USPS in the CARES Act, but “certain criteria for postal reform” would be included as part of that loan. 

Trump added that if the USPS doesn’t raise the price on packages, he won’t sign anything for more funding for the postal service.

Watch:

2:57 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Trump suggests he "will" look into vaccine expert's dismissal

President Donald Trump listens during the signing of a coronavirus aid package in the Oval Office of the White House, April 24.
President Donald Trump listens during the signing of a coronavirus aid package in the Oval Office of the White House, April 24. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump reiterated Friday that he didn’t know Dr. Rick Bright, the dismissed director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an office leading the charge on a coronavirus vaccine.

“Until yesterday, I never heard of the gentleman,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “I guess they moved him to a different group.”

Asked if he had any plans to look into Bright’s move to a narrower position at the National Institutes of Health, Trump suggested he will.

“I have not yet, at some point I will,” he said.

Bright has alleged that his ouster was retaliatory and stemmed in part from his opposition to widening the availability of a coronavirus treatment with dubious scientific merits that the President had repeatedly promoted.

Watch:  

3:10 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Trump signs $484 billion coronavirus relief package

US President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24.
US President Donald Trump signs the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24. Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty

President Trump Friday signed into a law a roughly $480 billion package to deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and expand Covid-19 testing, the latest attempt by Washington to blunt the devastating impact of the pandemic.

The total price tag of the funding package is approximately $484 billion. It will add to the already historic levels of spending to deal with the pandemic by authorizing an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was set up to help small businesses struggling from the economic deep freeze triggered by coronavirus.

Funding for the program ran dry earlier this month, prompting an outcry from the business community.

Watch the moment here:

1:04 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

More than 400,000 Tennesseans have filed unemployment claims 

 

More than 400,000 people in Tennessee have filed unemployment claims, Gov. Bill Lee announced at a news conference on Friday. The claims add up to about 15% of the state’s workforce. 

Lee also said the state suffered an $870 million loss in revenue in March, and that state officials predict a $5 billion loss to Tennessee’s GDP in 2020.

Yesterday, the US Department of Labor  announced that first-time claims for unemployment benefits totaled 4.4 million in the week ending April 18, after factoring in seasonal adjustments.

12:52 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Elective surgeries to resume and farmers market to reopen next week in Iowa

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference on April 23, in Johnston, Iowa.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference on April 23, in Johnston, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/Pool/AP

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced plans to start reopening some sectors of the economy on Monday during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

During Friday's news conference, Reynolds said the proclamation she is signing will allow for hospitals to resume elective surgeries in a phased approach. Farmers Markets will also be able to reopen with limited operations on Monday as well.

Iowa recorded 521 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the state total to 4,445, Reynolds said.

The state also reported 11 additional deaths, bringing the total to 107. The deaths include residents from long-term care facilities and those with pre-existing conditions, Reynolds said.

12:24 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Pelosi: Trump is "clearly" not listening to medical experts following disinfectant remarks

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 23.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 23. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at her weekly press conference criticized President Trump over his suggestion that sunlight and injecting disinfectants could help cure coronavirus and linked the comments to recent comments from Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell suggesting that he thinks that bankruptcy and not more federal money might be best for state and local governments.

“The President is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs and Mitch is saying that states should go bankrupt. It’s a clear, visible, within 24 hours, of how the Republicans reject science and reject governance. If you don’t believe in science and you don’t believe in governance. That’s their approach … we know that governance has a role and we know that science as a role and without science in our decision making we are not going to be on a very successful path," she said.

She went on to say, “unfortunately we’re seeing Republicans make comments with zero connection to science and facts. Just put that behind us and let’s go forward in a way that gets the job done for the American people. I’ve mentioned the President and his, let’s say, we can kill the virus by injecting disinfectants like Lysol into the body. Clearly and sadly, the President is not listening to medical experts. I don’t know which ones he is listening to if any.”

Wearing a bandana around her neck, but not covering her face, Pelosi called the climbing coronavirus death count “staggering,” saying that “many people, as am I, are quite shaken by the fact that we have passed the 50,000 number of people who have died from the coronavirus mark.”

Pelosi noted that it has hit close to home for some members of Congress. “We heard Maxine’s sister is dying,” she said in a reference to Rep. Maxine Waters.

On Thursday, Waters said her sister is dying of coronavirus in a hospital in St Louis, Missouri.

12:21 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

New York governor shares story of Kansas farmer who sent him a mask for health care workers

During his daily briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he received a letter from a retired Kansas farmer, enclosed with one N95 mask. The farmer asked Cuomo to give it to a New York health care worker on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It's that love, that courage, that generosity of spirit that makes this country so beautiful … That generosity of spirit, for me, makes up for all the ugliness that you see,” Cuomo said. 

The farmer, Dennis, said he and his wife, Sharon, are in their 70s, and she has only one lung, along with diabetes. While he is keeping four masks for his family, he wanted a doctor or nurse to have one of the masks left over from his farming days.

"How beautiful is that? I mean, how selfless is that? How giving is that?" Cuomo said, adding, "God bless America."

Watch:

12:06 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

New York health official: We keep our kids away from disinfectants, so do not consume them

New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker speaks during a press conference at the State Capital in Albany, on April 24.
New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker speaks during a press conference at the State Capital in Albany, on April 24.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was just asked about President Trump’s comments yesterday, asking if it was possible to treat coronavirus with sunlight or a “injection” of disinfectants, such as Lysol.

Here's how Cuomo responded:

"I don't know much about UV rays. Not my job, not my business, not my education, not my background."

Cuomo then asked the state's Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to respond.

"These are chemicals you would not ingest," Zucker said of bleach and other disinfectants.

"We make sure our kids do not go into cabinets that have these chemicals in them, so we need to stay away from those products," Zucker added.

Remember: The maker of Lysol issued a statement today clarifying that under no circumstances should its products be administered into the human body.

"As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)," the company said in a statement.

12:10 p.m. ET, April 24, 2020

Cuomo says New York will suffer a $13.3 billion shortfall

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference at the State Capital in Albany, on April 24.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference at the State Capital in Albany, on April 24. State of New York

New York will suffer a $13.3 billion shortfall due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his daily news conference.

State revenues will decline by $61 billion from the 2021 fiscal year to the 2024 fiscal year, he said.

"New York state was not 'in trouble' before this happened. New York state was very, very strong before this happened. Our economy was growing, it was growing at a very high rate. Our government spending has been at record lows ... And then this economic tsunami hits, and you shut down all the businesses, everybody stays home, they're not getting a paycheck, they feel economic anxiety," Cuomo said.

"The consequence to the state is the revenue projections are way down," he added.

Watch: