Coronavirus US live: New York governor warns parks could be closed if social distancing is ignored | US news
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has been giving a briefing on the virtual G7 foreign ministers meeting that began by videoconference at 7am (ET). He said the main focus was the coronavirus, which Pompeo made a point of calling the “Wuhan virus”.
According to a report in Der Spiegel, the G7 ministers have not so far been able to agree on a joint statement because of Pompeo’s insistence that it should refer to the disease as the “Wuhan virus”, a suggestion that was rejected by other members of the group of prosperous democracies.
Asked about the disagreement this morning, Pompeo did not answer directly, but did not deny it.
“I always think about these meetings, the right answer is to make sure we have the same message coming out of it,” he said. “I’m confident that when you hear the other six foreign ministers speak, they will have a common understanding of what we talked about today, and we will talk about the things that we have agreement on.”
Donald Trump has called the disease the “China virus”. Although the president has not used the phrase in his last couple of White House briefings, the administration is clearly still seeking to emphasise Chinese culpability.
“The Chinese Communist Party poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated,” Pompeo said this morning.
Summary of the day so far
Olympic president takes cue from Trump in coronavirus delay
The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, had been taking plenty of criticism for his delay in postponing the Tokyo 2020 games, which were due to start on 24 July. Bach is citing an interest figure, not noted for his sports or medical expertise in his defence: US president Donald Trump
“In the last couple of weeks the measures of many governments, they were limited until middle of April, some beginning of May,” Bach said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “You have maybe seen the latest declarations there in the United States from President Trump about the prospect of, middle of April, there being able to lift many restrictions.”
Trump may not be the best witness for Bach to call in his defence.
The US president said on 12 March he thought that the Olympics should be delayed. The IOC is now looking for dates in 2021 when the Games can take place.
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Senate coronavirus bill includes $400mn in election assistance
The Guardian’s Joan E Greve and Sam Levine report:
The Senate coronavirus bill includes $400 million in election assistance, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The funds are meant to ensure states can continue to hold fair elections as the country grapples with the pandemic.
A number of states have had to delay their presidential primaries in recent weeks out of fear of spreading the virus at polling places.
Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups have called on states to expand no-excuse absentee voting and vote by mail to protect Americans’ right to vote while respecting the social distancing guidelines outlined by the CDC.
The $400 million allocated in the Senate bill will assist those efforts, but the figure is well short of the $2 billion that the Brennan Center for Justice has said will be needed to ensure the November elections take place on time and in a fair manner.
The figure is also a fraction of the $4 billion House Democrats proposed in their own stimulus package, but it marks an increase from the $140 million originally suggested by Senate Republicans.
Tammy Patrick, a senior advisor at the Democracy Fund who works closely on election administration, said the money would likely be enough to cover some vote by mail costs for sending ballots, such as printing and postage for states scaling up.
She said she wasn’t sure if the money would cover central tabulation for states without it as well as signature verification and voter education.
“It is far too little to fully enable states to do what should be done, but probably enough to do what has to be done,” she said.
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