Trump Administration

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

President Trump is giving the World Health Organization 30 days to commit to substantial changes in how it operates — or he will make his hold on U.S. funding permanent. The threat came in a letter that sharply criticizes the WHO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with China.

Updated at 12:37 p.m. ET

The Senate Banking Committee took its first look at spending under the massive CARES Act, which Congress approved in March to provide assistance to individuals, businesses and local governments affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were pressed by senators about their stewardship of specific aspects of the approximately $2 trillion relief package at Tuesday's remote hearing.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, will remotely address the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday regarding the disbursement of hundreds of billions of dollars in coronavirus relief aid.

In written testimony released on Monday (below), Powell described the pandemic as having caused "a level of pain that is hard to capture in words."

He added: "As a society, we should do everything we can to provide relief to those who are suffering for the public good."

President Trump on Friday unveiled more details of "Operation Warp Speed" – an effort to accelerate the development of a vaccine and medical treatments for the coronavirus by January.

"We're looking to get it by the end of the year if we can, maybe before," Trump said as top medical, military and Cabinet officials, many of them wearing face masks, joined him in the Rose Garden.

Trump compared the effort to the Manhattan Project – the World War II effort to build the first nuclear weapon.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Americans should oust President Trump from the White House and elect a leader who will support – rather than undermine – public health experts who are battling the COVID-19 pandemic, British medical journal The Lancet says in a newly published editorial.

The White House has touted the fact that its coronavirus task force provided each state with a list of labs that could potentially test for the virus, but officials in a number of states told NPR that the lists did not actually help them increase testing.

Updated at 4:42 p.m. ET

Rick Bright, a career government scientist-turned-whistleblower, told a congressional panel Thursday that without a stronger federal response, the coronavirus threatens to make 2020 the "darkest winter in modern history."

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned Tuesday of states and localities skipping over federal guidelines while trying to lift restrictions and restart their economies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking remotely during a unique Senate health committee hearing, Fauci told lawmakers that his concern is that if some areas "jump over" guidelines from the federal government and "prematurely open up," there will be "little spikes that turn into outbreaks."

Staffers in the West Wing have been directed to wear face masks in the White House, except when at their own desks, a Trump administration official told NPR.

Updated at 7:44 p.m. ET

President Trump and Vice President Pence will be "maintaining their distance in the immediate future" on the advice of the White House Medical Unit, a senior administration official told NPR. They were last seen together at the White House on Thursday.

At a Monday White House briefing, which the president attended but the vice president did not, Trump suggested that he might be keeping his distance from Pence for the time being.

"We can talk on the phone," Trump said.


This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

It's Cinco de Mayo in Sandpoint, Idaho, and a downtown pub is giving away free meals to families in need. Not many people are out. A few are wearing masks. Outside the pub, a teenager is playing the Beatles' song "Yesterday" on his violin.

The coronavirus has in recent days edged closer to President Trump. At least two White House aides who've been in proximity to the president and the vice president have tested positive for COVID-19.

Updated at 2:05 p.m. ET Sunday

Three members of the White House's coronavirus task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, are quarantining themselves after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have decided to self-quarantine for two weeks.

President Trump wants states to begin relaxing stay-at-home orders and reopen businesses after the spread of the coronavirus pummeled the global economy and killed millions of jobs.

Updated at 4:02 p.m. ET

The White House on Friday confirmed a second case of coronavirus this week, now in Vice President Pence's office, as both the president and his No. 2 have recently begun traveling again.

Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller tested positive for the virus on Friday, after having tested negative Thursday.

President Trump told reporters Friday that Miller hasn't come into contact with him but has "spent some time" with the vice president.

Updated at 10:25 a.m. ET

Presidents have been asked all manner of questions about their behavior, but no one had ever asked whether the president should wear a mask. Until now.

The White House coronavirus task force rejected detailed guidance drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how workplaces ranging from schools to bars to churches should resume operations to prevent the spread of the virus because it was viewed as "overly prescriptive."

Updated on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET

President Trump said he had planned to wind down the White House coronavirus task force, but now plans to add two or three new members by Monday, noting he had received "calls from very respected people" to keep it going.

Trump said the task force would continue "indefinitely" and made clear its focus would be on "opening the country." Some members of the task force, such as people who worked on increasing the supply of ventilators, "may be less involved," he said.

President Trump twice received intelligence briefings on the coronavirus in January, according to a White House official. The official tells NPR the briefings occurred on Jan. 23 and Jan. 28.

Updated at 3:11 p.m. ET

Kayleigh McEnany did something on Friday that her predecessor at the White House never once did: She briefed reporters from behind the lectern in the cramped confines of the James S. Brady briefing room.

McEnany, President Trump's fourth press secretary, took over the job less than a month ago from Stephanie Grisham, who had chosen to work behind the scenes, saying that Trump was his own best spokesman.

President Trump said the existing coronavirus social distancing guidelines that are set to expire with the end of April on Thursday will not be extended further, as more governors begin steps to lift restrictions and reopen their economies.

The administration said the existing social distancing recommendations are being incorporated by governors into their new future plans.

"They'll be fading out, because now the governors are doing it," Trump said.

Vice President Pence says comments he made last month about coronavirus testing were misunderstood by the public.

At issue: test distribution versus test completion.

Pence joined President Trump on Monday to announce a federal "blueprint" to help states ramp up their testing of the virus. Testing is seen as crucial for states to begin to lift social and economic restrictions.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

The White House released a blueprint for states on coronavirus testing on Monday at a daily news conference it spiked and then revived.

The document presents "key strategic considerations" for states, including their roles, the roles of the federal government and local governments, the private sector and monitoring systems, officials said.

A federal report out this week shows that the Bureau of Land Management has more than halved the time spent reviewing oil and gas drilling permits, a reflection of how the agency's priorities have shifted under the Trump administration.

Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET

At a short briefing Friday afternoon at the White House, President Trump touted the federal government's "aggressive strategy," saying "we are getting through this challenge together as one American family."

Trump earlier on Friday signed the latest economic relief package, as a handful of Republican-led states prepared to re-open their states' economies — with or without the president's blessing.

Updated at 1:49 p.m. ET

Please, everyone, do not try what the president just suggested at home.

That is the consensus from doctors, at least one manufacturer and even President Trump's own administration, after he speculated about possible treatments for the coronavirus during his task force briefing Thursday. After introducing research reflecting the disinfectant capabilities of ultraviolet light on surfaces, Trump mused that scientists may try to find a way to place strong disinfectants directly inside the body to treat a patient's infection.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

More than a dozen states have unveiled formal plans to move from coronavirus disaster response and toward reconstruction, the White House said Thursday, but officials also didn't rule out the need for more mitigation.

Vice President Pence said that 16 states have released formal plans about progressing out of the crisis. Many are pursuing a "phased approach" county by county, he said, pointing specifically to Missouri, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Idaho.

A month ago, President Trump went on Fox and downplayed the potential lethality of the novel coronavirus and compared it to the seasonal flu.

Updated on April 23 at 8:20 a.m. ET

A high-ranking federal scientist focused on vaccine development says he was removed from his post because of his "insistence" that the government spend funds on "safe and scientifically vetted solutions" to address the coronavirus crisis and not on "drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit."

Updated at 8:10 p.m. ET

President Trump on Wednesday said he disagreed with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's decision to re-open a number of industries in his state, including hair salons and tattoo parlors, saying that he thought the move was premature in the face of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Trump broke with the Republican governor's call to ease social distancing rules in the state beginning on Friday, despite Trump's own insistence that some states could begin to relax mitigation measures before the beginning of May.

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