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White House advisers fear Trump’s passive approach to China is making the coronavirus worse

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President Donald Trump has already expended all of his political capital with China over his trade war and he is unwilling to pressure the country now that the coronavirus is getting closer and closer to pandemic status.

“U.S. health officials have been signaling for nearly two weeks now that a coronavirus pandemic may be on the horizon,” wrote infectious diseases reporter Helen Branswell for STAT. “While stressing that the virus presents only a ‘low risk’ to Americans right now, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, acknowledged Tuesday that that might not remain the case for long.”

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The Washington Post revealed Monday that Trump’s advisers are growing increasingly concerned that Trump’s passive approach to Chinese President Xi Jinping over the outbreak is making things worse.

“I had a long talk with President Xi — for the people in this room — two nights ago, and he feels very confident. He feels very confident. And he feels that, again, as I mentioned, by April or during the month of April, the heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus,” Trump told U.S. governors last week. “So that would be a good thing. But we’re in great shape in our country.”

But the Post cited several senior White House and administration officials who say that Trump has done nothing but “heralded Xi’s leadership and ‘discipline’ in responding to the outbreak.”

“Trump has repeatedly told advisers that pushing for a harder line against China could backfire because Xi controls the government ‘totally’ and will not work with the United States if it says anything negative about the country, said one of these senior administration officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private talks,” reported the Post.

Global health experts have been concerned that China isn’t being truthful about the impact of the outbreak. Since the virus began to spread, China’s Hubei province announced 242 new deaths. By Feb. 15, they announced twice as many deaths and over 14,000 infections. It has prompted many health experts in the U.S. and abroad to demand a greater transparency from the Chinese government, something they’re not exactly known for.

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At the same time, news broke that one of the doctors who tried to sound the alarm back in December died after contracting the disease.

Dr. Li Wenliang, who worked as an ophthalmologist, was “unfortunately infected during the fight against the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection,” said the Wuhan Central Hospital.

Li was scolded by local authorities for allegedly “spreading rumors” about the coronavirus. It turns out he was right — and the Chinese government ignored him.

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Read the full report from The Washington Post.


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Maddow reports Florida governor is letting ‘coronavirus-denialist megachurch guy’ hold huge services

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On Sunday, the River Church in Tampa was packed with parishioners despite the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.

The following day, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister arrested Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne for violating the county's social distancing rules.

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Here’s how Christian Nationalists have shaped the federal government’s response to coronavirus

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On Thursday, appearing on the Slate radio show "The Gist" with Mike Pesca, journalist Catherine Stewart outlined some of the ways the Christian Right is responsible for the federal government's disastrous response to coronavirus.

"The coronavirus pandemic is real wrath-of-God type stuff, isn't it?" said Pesca. "Well, there are some people who are waiting for this, who are ready for this, and who, quite scarily, have been tasked with the response."

"It's a complex question, and I think that Christian Nationalism, which is what we're dealing with here, is not a religion," said Stewart. "Many evangelicals are doing very positive things, many religious people are doing a lot of positive things in this situation with the coronavirus. But Christian Nationalism is not a religion, it's a political ideology that cloaks itself in religious rhetoric. And it's a movement that put Trump in power."

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Jared Kushner ripped by NYT columnist: He will ‘get us all killed’ with his incompetence

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On Thursday, writing for The New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg laid into President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who appeared at the day's coronavirus press conference to blame states for the federal government's slow response.

"Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror," wrote Goldberg. "According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist. 'I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,' Kushner reportedly said. 'I'm doing my own projections, and I've gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.'"

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