As the total number of global coronavirus cases approaches the two million mark, the decisions of national and local leaders are becoming increasingly critical in the fight against this unprecedented pandemic.
From the White House briefings to the informative daily press conferences of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, information is being relayed in a variety of ways to the American people straight from our nation’s hotbeds.
Although the U.S. death toll officially surpassed 25,000 on Tuesday, the nation may be starting to see some encouraging signs that could lead to a return to normalcy in the near future. In New York, the number of new hospitalizations and reported number of deaths are experiencing a downward trend, while daily cases are stabilizing and showing a steady flattening of the national curve. Overseas, some European countries are even starting the process of reopening stores and schools, as close to 30,000 non-essential workers have reportedly started to return to work.
Below are summaries of what the White House, Gov. Cuomo and Gov. Edwards have said in recent days.
White House Task Force Briefing
On Tuesday at the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump announced he’s halting funding to the World Health Organization, pending an investigation, for what he believes was a “severe mismanagement” in covering up the pandemic early on in the process.
“Everybody knows what’s going on there,” Trump said on the WHO. “American taxpayers provide between $400 million and $500 million per year to the WHO. In contrast, China contributes roughly $40 million. The United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.”
Many expected the administration to officially unveil the new economic task force, rumored to be nicknamed the “Opening Our Country Council,” a group that will help advise the re-opening of the country, whenever that may be. Trump said at Tuesday’s briefing that plans to reopen the country are “close to being finalized,” and they will issue the new guidelines soon.
Dr. Anthony Fauci was not present at today’s briefing.
Trump also announced that all major professional sports commissioners, along with New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are a part of a large group that will advise the administration on how to restart the U.S. economy.
After claiming at yesterday’s briefing that he had “total” authority over the states, Trump walked back those comments on Tuesday, saying he will now authorize “individual governors of individual states” to impose such plans to reopen their economies.
Trump took an aggressive stand against the media in yesterday's briefing, presenting a ‘campaign style’ video exonerating himself from any criticism to how his administration has handled the spread of the virus since mid-January.
CBS reporter Paula Reid challenged President Trump about the video, which did show a sizable gap in the month of February, asking what his administration did to combat the spread throughout the country during that time.
“A lot,” Trump responded. “In fact, we’ll give you a list. You know you’re a fake. Your whole network, the way you cover it is fake.”
Tuesday's briefing was shorter and less contentious, finishing in just under 90 minutes. Dr. Deborah Birx, who was in attendance, did not speak.
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus Briefing
Aside from the usual graphs highlighting the changes in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and COVID-19 deaths, a chunk of Cuomo’s press conference today in Albany, New York surrounded the response to Trump’s statements on who really has the authority to open the U.S. economy.
In response to Trump’s “total authority” comments -- which sparked a constitutional debate -- Cuomo addressed the notion this morning.
“We don’t have a king in this country. We didn’t want a king,” Cuomo said at his briefing. “We have a constitution, and we elect a president.”
Trump took to Twitter this morning, responding to New York’s governor by saying: “Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc. I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!”
“This is not time for politics, and it is no time to fight,” Cuomo added. “I put my hand out in total partnership and cooperation with the president. If he wants a fight, he’s not going to get it from me. Period.”
Cuomo then went on to talk a bit more candidly about Trump in an interview with CNN.
“If he ordered me to re-open -- in a way that would endanger the public health of the people in my state -- I wouldn’t do it,” he said.
As everyone remains anxious to reopen the country -- Cuomo included -- he made it clear that the actions taken by Americans today will determine the infection rate of tomorrow.
As far as numbers go, 25% of those who have perished from COVID-19 in New York state were residents of nursing homes, new data has shown.
Gov. John Bel Edwards News Conference
As Louisiana surpassed the 1,000 deaths mark on Tuesday, Gov. Edwards announced that the state appeared to take a step back in its social distancing measures, according to new data.
“The progress we made on slowing the spread is easily lost if people ignore the stay at home mandate," Edwards said. “Now more than ever, we have to stay at home to stop the spread and save lives.”
Edwards mentioned that Louisiana expects to receive $1.8 billion in federal aid within the next 10 days. The Governor went on to explain that the congressional intention is that about 45% of it would go to local governments to assist with the virus response, while 55% would remain with the state government.