Late Sunday, responding to scattered news reports that the vice-president was isolating himself, the White House issued a statement saying that Mr Pence would not alter his routine or self-quarantine. The vice-president “has tested negative every single day and plans to be at the White House tomorrow”, said Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for Mr Pence.
…and welcome to another day of coverage of the coronavirus, and the politics around it, in the US. I always start with the numbers from Johns Hopkins University:
As always, New York is singled out because it is by far the state worst hit. But others have it bad (New Jersey has more than 9,000 deaths, Massachusetts nearly 5,000, Michigan around 4,500) and many are having it worse, with confirmed cases increasing even as most attempt some degree of economic reopening.
Oliver Laughland, our southern bureau chief, has been writing and co-ordinating some fine coverage of such efforts. Here’s his report from Biloxi, Mississippi, and a story about Texas, co-written with Erum Salam there and Nina Lakhani in New York:
Texas begins to reopen after Covid-19 quarantine – but is it safe to do so?
Politically, the main story of the weekend was an outbreak of cases in the White House and Donald Trump’s reaction. Aides spread across the shows to counsel calm but the New York Times reported that the president was “spooked”, as public health experts including Dr Anthony Fauci went into isolation.
He may have been – he will likely say he wasn’t, or isn’t – but Trump in part reacted by going on an absolute Twitter tear-up about Russia, Michael Flynn and, most saliently, Barack Obama. Here’s my write-up of what the president would like to call “Obamagate”, as he retweets conspiracy-tinged accounts about his successor’s supposed complicity in “the biggest political crime in American history”:
Trump charges Obama with ‘biggest political crime in American history’
One would imagine that somewhere, Obama himself is laughing. And, as he told alumni of his administration on Friday in remarks that may have had something to do with the president’s mood, getting ready to hit the trail (virtually or otherwise) for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
More to come, obviously.
One other thing now, which is that on Sunday Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate health committee, expressed strong skepticism about Trump’s predictions for how soon a coronavirus vaccine will be found. Not long after that, it was announced that Alexander himself will be entering self-isolation, after a staffer tested positive for Covid-19.
So, in fact, in some form, will the vice-president, Mike Pence, who aides said tested negative on Sunday after his press secretary Katie Miller, who is married to Trump policy aide Stephen Miller, tested positive.
It all means many things, but here’s two. Alexander will chair a key Senate hearing on Tuesday remotely, just as Fauci and fellow doctors Robert Redfield and Stephen Hahn will testify before him remotely. To the symbolically minded, after so many weeks in lockdown, that may seem symbolic of how Washington has never really got a hold on this crisis.
Also, Trump’s scheduled Rose Garden press briefing on testing today at 4pm may seem more timely than ever.
This content was originally published here.