WASHINGTON — Stephen Miller, President Trump’s senior adviser and speechwriter, tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday.

President Trump’s White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller, shown in August, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

A senior administration official said Miller had previously tested negative as White House officials have tried to contain an outbreak on the complex that has infected Trump, the first lady and more than a dozen other aides and associates.

Miller is an architect of the president’s “America First” foreign policy and restrictive immigration measures.

His wife, Katie Miller, who serves as communications director to Vice President Mike Pence, previously had the virus and tested negative after the last time she saw him.

Katie Miller had been in Salt Lake City with Pence, where he is preparing to debate Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, but she left as soon as she found out about her husband’s diagnosis.

Fed says lack of further stimulus imperils recovery

WASHINGTON  — Strong financial support from the government and the Federal Reserve have spurred a solid recovery from the pandemic recession, but the rebound may falter without further aid, Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned Tuesday.

Powell said that government support — including expanded unemployment insurance payments, direct payments to most U.S. households and financial support for small businesses — has so far prevented a recessionary “downward spiral” in which job losses would reduce spending, forcing businesses to cut even more jobs.

But the U.S. economy still faces threats, and without further support those downward trends could still emerge, the chairman said.

“The expansion is still far from complete,” Powell said in a speech to the National Association for Business Economics, a group of corporate and academic economists. “Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses. Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth.”

Powell noted that the economic recovery has slowed in recent months compared with its rapid improvement in May and June. Incomes fell in August. And job growth weakened in September, slowing to just 661,000, less than half the gains of 1.5 million in August and 1.8 million in September.

“A prolonged slowing in the pace of improvement over time could trigger typical recessionary dynamics, as weakness feeds on weakness,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Joint Chiefs in isolation after Coast Guard admiral tests positive for coronavirus, Pentagon says

Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are in isolation after the Coast Guard’s No. 2 officer tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Pentagon said Tuesday in a statement.

Adm. Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, tested positive for the virus on Monday, said Cmdr. Scott McBride, a service spokesman. It is not clear where the admiral was infected, but his travels in recent days include attending a Sept. 27 event at the White House recognizing Gold Star military families and a meeting at the Pentagon on Friday with the military’s top generals.

Mark Milley

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley speaks at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington in February. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement on Tuesday that defense officials are aware of Ray’s diagnosis and that he was at the Pentagon last week “for meetings with other senior military leaders.”

Hoffman said some of the attendees were service chiefs and now in isolation. They include Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Charles Brown, the Air Force chief of staff, said two defense officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

“We are conducting additional contact tracing and taking appropriate precautions to protect the force and the mission,” Hoffman said. “Out of an abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining and have been tested this morning. No Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms and we have no additional positive tests to report at this time.”

Hoffman said that there is no change to the readiness or capability of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Defense Department has been following public-health guidelines since April, including carrying out body temperature checks and wearing masks when social distancing is not possible.

Concern rises for White House residence staff as their workplace becomes a virus hot spot

Charles Allen’s father, Eugene Allen, who was the subject of the 2013 film “The Butler” and served eight White House families from the Trumans to the Reagans, never missed a day of work in 34 years of government service. But if his father were still working in the White House residence today, Charles says he would have very simple advice: “I would implore him to retire.”

His uncle, John Johnson, was also a butler, and the flouting of safety protocols that has made the White House a coronavirus hot spot has also put the career civil servants who work where President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump live at risk of exposure. It has Allen puzzled and incensed.

“I would be begging my dad and uncle, ‘You need to get the hell up out of there,’ ” he says. “It’s like, ‘Get out! Get out!’ ”

The White House residence staff members are largely Black and Latino, and often elderly, according to Kate Anderson Brower, who compiled a trove of interviews with former staffers for her book “The Residence.” Numbering 90-some full-time ushers, butlers, housekeepers, valets, florists, engineers and cooks charged with maintaining the historical house and creating a comfortable home free from prying eyes, they work more closely with the first family than perhaps anyone else in that building. These employees often keep their positions for decades and work for administration after administration, viewing their job as holding up the integrity of the White House regardless of who is in office.

“They’re supporting an institution, not a singular presidency,” says Anita McBride, who was Laura Bush’s chief of staff and is a White House historian for American University.

White House custodial staff members clean the lectern in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room ahead of a briefing in April. Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford

Discretion, too, is a key component of a residence staffer’s job. Speaking out about anything, including working conditions, can be a cause for dismissal. Two members of the housekeeping department who tested positive several weeks ago were told to use “discretion” when discussing their diagnosis, according to a New York Times report Monday that The Washington Post confirmed.

As the residence staff has been caring for the first family, a chorus of concern has started to rise among former White House and residence staff members about whether the first family and the administration are taking care of those civil servants in return. For months, this administration has treated the White House as a bubble immune to the coronavirus, ignoring guidance from their own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by refusing to wear masks, failing to maintain social distance and relying on rapid coronavirus tests that have been shown to miss infections. With the president, the first lady, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, top aide Hope Hicks, former counselor Kellyanne Conway and an ever-growing number of administration officials testing positive for the coronavirus, that bubble has burst. Now others are trying to give voice to those working behind the scenes in that building who cannot speak on their own behalf.

“I know that people in there are scared,” says Sam Kass, head chef for the Obamas for six years. “I know that they are concerned about their own lives and their families, and feel very torn about balancing their responsibilities to their country, as they see it, and putting themselves in harm’s way.”

On Sunday, the chorus rose on behalf of Secret Service personnel, who have been voicing, in unprecedented fashion, outrage over the president’s seeming indifference to the health risks faced by those protecting him. Most recently, at least two of them were locked inside an SUV with the president – an active COVID-19 patient – as he took a short motorcade ride to wave at his supporters outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The Secret Service, though, does much of its work in public. Residence staff are meant to be invisible; nobody can see them in the same photograph as the president as he waves to supporters from behind his tinted windows.

As reports of White House officials testing positive continued to roll in, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., says he’s been thinking about “the other people that work there, the ones that clean the floors and cook the food and serve the food and cut the grass. All these average, everyday, hard-working Americans who go home to their families when there’s been no protocol in the White House in regard to COVID.”

Underscoring the indifference paid to pandemic protocols, it wasn’t until Sunday night, nearly three days after the president informed the public of his COVID-19 diagnosis, that White House management sent out the first email to staff telling them not to come to work if they have symptoms, and to ask their supervisors about “practicing telework.”

Read the full story here.

Facebook removes Trump post calling the coronavirus ‘less lethal’ than the flu

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook removed a post from President Donald Trump on Tuesday that called the flu “far less lethal” than the coronavirus, reinforcing tension between the social media company and the president as the election approaches.

Twitter left the same post on its site, but hid it under a public interest notice and limited how it could be shared.

“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” Trump’s tweet and now-deleted Facebook post reads.

Trump left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday night, where he was being treated for the coronavirus. Earlier in the day, he posted on social media, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” That drew intense criticism online for what many saw as him downplaying the virus that has killed at least 209,000 people in the United States.

Neither Twitter nor Facebook took any action against the Monday post and did not respond to repeated requests for comment asking if it violated their policies against coronavirus misinformation. Both companies have pledged to remove coronavirus misinformation that could lead to physical harm.

Twitter and Facebook have taken harsher action against Trump’s tweets this year. Twitter has labeled several of his tweets for violating its policies, starting with a fact check label in May, and immediately drawing the ire of the president for its decision.

But many experts still criticize the companies for not taking harsher action and say the policies are not being enforced consistently.

Read the full story here.

Trump’s maskless return means more anxiety for White House reporters

NEW YORK  — President Donald Trump’s return to the White House to recover from the coronavirus seems certain to raise the already heightened anxiety level of the journalists assigned to follow him.

Three reporters have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days while covering a White House described as lax, at best, in following basic safety advice like wearing masks. Discomfort only increased Monday with news that press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had tested positive.

The image of Trump standing on a balcony and removing his mask after a helicopter dropped him off Monday evening, then turning to enter the White House maskless, could hardly be reassuring to people who work there.

After McEnany’s announcement Monday, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts spent part of his afternoon waiting outside an urgent care center for his own test. He had attended McEnany’s briefing last Thursday. She didn’t wear a mask, and neither did one of her assistants who later tested positive, and Roberts sat near both of them. He tested negative.

He called it an inconvenience, but stronger emotions were spreading. American Urban Radio Networks correspondent April Ryan said she found it infuriating that Trump and his team had risked the health of her colleagues. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins said it was “irresponsible, at best.”

“It’s frustrating,” said Jonathan Karl, ABC News White House correspondent. “Frankly, it makes you angry.”


President Donald Trump stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room as returns to the White House Monday, Oct. 5, in Washington, after leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Trump takes the health and safety of those who work for and cover him very seriously, spokesman Judd Deere said. The White House works to incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices to limit COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible on the grounds and when the president is traveling, he said.

Yet Trump clearly dislikes masks, and it is a message that has filtered down through much of his staff.

The White House Correspondents Association has placed signs on the door to the press briefing room saying that masks are required for admittance.

“The only people who have habitually not followed that rule have been that White House staff,” Karl said.

Read the full story here.

White House blocks FDA guidelines on vaccine approval

WASHINGTON — The White House has blocked new Food and Drug Administration guidelines on bringing potential vaccines for COVID-19 to market that likely would have prevented their approval before the Nov. 3 election.

At issue was the FDA’s planned requirement that participants in mass clinical trials for vaccines be followed for two months to ensure there are no side effects and the vaccines provide lasting protection. Despite the move by the White House, FDA officials say companies are aware of the standards and are expected to comply with them.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn has been attempting to shore up public confidence in the FDA’s vaccine review for weeks, vowing that career scientists, not politicians, will decide if the shots are safe and effective for mass vaccination.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that a vaccine could be authorized before Election Day, despite top government scientists saying that timeline is very unlikely.

Malaysian leadership voluntarily quarantine after exposure

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, along with seven ministers and six deputy ministers, are observing a voluntary two-week quarantine.

They attended a meeting on Oct. 3 with a minister who tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from Sabah. Malaysia’s police chief and the health director-general attended the meeting and are isolating at home.

Coronavirus cases in Malaysia spiked to a new daily record of 691 on Tuesday. There’s been four new deaths, including a one-year-old baby. Muhyiddin ruled out another national lockdown, saying measures will be targeted to curb transmission in hotspot zones.

The cases Tuesday pushed the totals to 13,504 infections and 141 deaths.

15 clinical trials of virus vaccine underway in Africa

JOHANNESBURG — Fifteen clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines are underway across the African continent, according to a comment published in the journal Nature by Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Five trials are occurring in South Africa and four in Egypt, with a single trial each in Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

African nations have teamed up to combat the pandemic, with painful memories of millions of Africans dying in the decade it took for affordable HIV drugs to become available on the continent.

“Africa has ended up at the end of the queue every time” in the race for disease therapies, the Nature comment said. But COVID-19 has jolted the African Union into jointly pursuing vaccine trials and vaccine manufacturing.

The Africa CDC estimates the continent will need 1.5 billion vaccine doses, enough to give 60% of the population the two doses likely required. Vaccines and delivery could cost up to $10 billion, and delivery across the vast continent will be a major challenge.

The Nature comment indicates that authorities are willing to partner with beverage companies, noting that “refrigerated bottles of Coca-Cola are available in even the remotest areas of Africa.”

Italy may mandate masks outdoors

ROME — Italy’s health minister says the government is examining a proposal to make masks mandatory outdoors, with the number of infections growing steadily for the last nine weeks.

Roberto Speranza says as infections spread, it is necessary to return to restrictions that were gradually loosened over the spring and summer months after Italy’s strict nearly three-month lockdown.

The government is expected to pass new measures by Wednesday making it necessary to wear masks outdoors and limit gatherings. The government also wants to extend the state of emergency put into place on Jan. 31, while the epidemic was still believed confined to China, until the end of January 2022, making it easier to enforce new measures on a national level.

Speranza said the recent uptick in cases has been primarily from gatherings of friends and acquaintances, making it even more pressing for people to wear masks in the presence of those not living in the same household. He noted there are currently 58,900 cases of the virus in Italy, compared with 12,600 two months ago, an indication of how it is spreading even if it is well below the peaks of last March and April.

EU reviews potential second vaccine

LONDON — The European Medicines Agency has begun reviewing a second potential coronavirus vaccine in an expedited process that could grant approval earlier than normal if it proves safe and effective.

In a statement Tuesday, the EU regulator said it has started examining early laboratory data from a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by BioNTech and Pfizer.

“This does not mean that a conclusion can be reached yet on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, as much of the evidence is still to be submitted to the committee,” the EMA said. It added that the agency’s decision to start the expedited approval process was based on preliminary results from studies in adults which suggest the vaccine triggers the body’s immune system to fight COVID-19.

Advanced tests involving thousands of people getting the vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer are ongoing and results will likely become available in the coming months.

Last week, EMA announced it had begun a similar fast-track approval process for a coronavirus vaccine still being tested by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The expedited process means an approval could be granted in weeks rather than months.

India sees lowest daily increase in cases since August

NEW DELHI — India has registered 61,267 new coronavirus cases, its lowest daily increase since Aug. 25.

The country with nearly 6.7 million reported infections has had the highest single-day increases in the world for nearly 45 days. The last three weeks, however, have seen a gradual decline.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 884 deaths in the past 24 hours. The death toll now stands at 103,569.

India has the second-highest number of reported infections and is on track to exceed the caseload in the United States within weeks.

Sri Lanka sees first community spread of virus in 2 months

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has confirmed that more than 300 garment factory workers have been infected with the coronavirus, after reporting its first community infection in two months.

The health ministry says 321 cases have been identified in the cluster as of Tuesday after the first patient was diagnosed at a hospital two days ago.

To contain the outbreak, the government imposed a curfew in two suburbs of the capital where the majority of patients live, closed schools and universities, and imposed restrictions on public transport.

For more than two months, Sri Lanka health officials have said they have prevented a community spread of the virus and all diagnosed patients had belonged to two known clusters.

The country has reported 3,471 cases and 13 deaths.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: