BREAKING: Indonesia confirms two new COVID-19 cases

first_img“Among the seven people, we have confirmed that two of them are positive for COVID-19, which we will call Case 3 and Case 4,” he added.Yurianto, who also serves as the spokesperson for the management of the virus outbreak, declined to reveal the genders of the two new confirmed cases. However, he explained that the two new patients were 32 and 34 years old.“Their body temperatures are around 37 to 37.6 degrees Celsius. They suffer from coughing and sniffles, but no symptoms of shortness of breath. We hope their condition can improve after our intervention,” Yurianto said.He also declined to identify the location where both patients were possibly infected. “One thing for sure, they don’t live in the same house.”President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on Monday the country’s first two confirmed COVID-19 cases: a 64-year-old and her 31-year-old daughter. They are currently undergoing treatment in isolation at the Sulianti Saroso Hospital. (kuk)Topics : The Health Ministry confirmed two new novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases on Friday.The new cases were detected after the ministry traced at least 20 people who had contact with the country’s first two confirmed cases, identified only as Case 1 and Case 2.“After the contact tracing, we found seven people. We took them to the Sulianti Saroso Infectious Disease Hospital for observation and isolation because they showed physical symptoms associated with influenza such as coughing and mild fever,” the ministry’s disease control and prevention directorate general secretary, Achmad Yurianto, told journalists on Friday.last_img read more

French officials join calls for Olympic postponement

first_imgThe president of the French Athletics Federation (FFA) on Sunday said he did not understand why the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was refusing to postpone the Tokyo Olympics in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.”It cannot be accepted that the IOC is not listening to the number one Olympic sport,” Andre Giraud said. “Everyone agrees that the Games cannot be held on the dates planned.”The US and Spanish athletics federations have also asked for a postponement. Sebastian Coe, the head of World Athletics, has also hinted that such a step may be inevitable. The French Health Minister Olivier Veran also said Sunday he was reluctant to send athletes to Japan for the Games. “Do I have the right to ask for the suspension of the Olympic Games as Minister of Health? No,” he said.”Do I see myself sending athletes to Japan today or asking them to prepare themselves in good conditions? The answer is no.”Giraud told AFP that the IOC should already be thinking of what he called “Plan C”, a postponement to 2021, joining a swelling chorus of objections to holding the Games this summer. “If the crisis is contained by the end of May, we can envisage a postponement of the Games to the autumn. But Plan C would be a six-month or one-year postponement,” he said.”How can we bring together 11,000 athletes in less than four months in the Olympic village? The athletes are in a stressful situation and we need to reassure them. We can’t wait any longer.Giraud also urged the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) to “take a stand”.”I appeal to the CNOSF to take action with the IOC. We need a national position of solidarity,” he said.”At the Games, the French team is under the CNOSF banner. The responsibility at national level therefore lies with the CNOSF President to listen to his federations and take a stand.”IOC president Thomas Bach has signaled his determination to press ahead with the Games in Tokyo from July 29 to August 9, telling the New York Times that postponement “would not be responsible now” as “we are four-and-a-half months away from the Games”.On Friday, USA Swimming said they wanted the Games postponed. They were soon joined by France’s swimming federation, the US and Spanish athletics federations, the Norwegian Olympic Committee as well as likely competitors.”I don’t think we should have the Olympic Games at all costs,” said Coe, who ran the 2012 London Games. “A decision on the Olympic Games may become very obvious very quickly.”On Sunday, American daily USA Today reported that there was wide support from US athletes for the postponement of the Games. It reported that almost three-quarters of the 300 US athletes who took part in a virtual town hall with US Olympic officials support a delay.center_img Topics :last_img read more

COVID-19: West Manggarai temporarily closes airport, seaport

first_imgThe West Manggarai Regency administration is planning to temporarily close Komodo Airport and Labuan Bajo Port in East Nusa Tenggara to slow the spread of COVID-19. West Manggarai Deputy Regent Maria Geong said that people would not be able to enter or leave the regency from March 28 to April 5. “This is not a lockdown as airlines can still pick up supplies in West Manggarai regency. So starting Saturday, no people will be coming home via the Labuan Bajo entry point,” Maria told The Jakarta Post by phone on Thursday. “The West Manggarai administration had requested the ministry to temporarily restrict access for passenger vessels. Cargo vessels are still allowed to unload their supplies through the seaport and airport at West Manggarai,” Maria explained, adding that medical workers in the area were in urgent need of protective gear.As the closure has yet to go in effect, those wanting to return to the regency can do so and tourists currently in Labuan Bajo can still leave. (dpk/dfr) Topics :center_img “In an emergency, sick people requiring hospitalization due to COVID-19 outside [of the regency] will be prioritized.”The contagious respiratory illness that has killed thousands globally has confirmed cases in 25 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces.Indonesia confirmed Wednesday 105 new cases, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 790. Of the total, 31 people have recovered and 58 have died. A total of 186 people in the province were under general monitoring for COVID-19 as of Wednesday.The regency administration previously sent a letter to the Transportation Ministry requesting that authorities start closing the airport and seaport as a preventive measure against the pandemic.last_img read more

COVID-19: KAI cancels additional trains to Yogyakarta, Central Java, East Java

first_imgSuprapto said the demand for train trips had been dropping. The operator recorded only 8,190 passengers on Sunday, compared to more than 40,000 passengers on March 1. About 44,000 passengers cancelled their trips between March 1 and 29.The train operator said it would fully refund all tickets for cancelled trips between March 23 and May 29. Normally, passengers only get 75 percent of the base fare in the case of a refund.KAI has advised passengers to cancel their tickets online through the KAI Access application or at train stations across the provinces.Surakarta Balapan station head Suharyanto said PT KAI had also suspended airport train services bound for Adi Soemarmo Airport in Surakarta through April. (nal)Topics : The trains affected by the policy are KA Taksaka Pagi, KA Taksaka Malam, KA Bogowonto, KA Gajah Wong and KA Fajar Utama connecting Jakarta and Yogyakarta; KA Lodaya Pagi and KA Lodaya Malam (Surakarta-Bandung); KA Senja Utama (Jakarta-Surakarta) and KA Sancaka (Yogyakarta-Surabaya).Read also: COVID-19: PT KAI cancels 28 Jakarta train routesKAI Daop 8 Surabaya spokesperson Suprapto said 18 train routes to East Java had also been cancelled in April.Among the affected trains were KA Jayakarta (Surabaya-Jakarta), KA Dharmawangsa Ekspress (Surabaya-Jakarta), KA Malioboro Ekspres (Yogyakarta-Malang), KA Sancaka (Surabaya-Yogyakarta), KA Majapahit (Jakarta-Malang), and KA Ambarawa Ekspres (Surabaya-Semarang). State-owned railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) has cancelled additional long-distance trains routes to various destinations in Yogyakarta, Central Java and East Java in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.“We are extending the cancellations until after the Idul Fitri holiday [in May]. The operator initially planned to suspend operations only until March 31,” KAI operational region (Daop) 6 Yogyakarta spokesperson Eko Budiyanto said on Monday.KAI closed six routes connecting Yogyakarta and Jakarta; two routes connecting Surakarta, Central Java, and Bandung, West Java; and one route connecting Yogyakarta and Surabaya, East Java, from March 26 until mid-June.last_img read more

What needs to happen before countries lift lockdowns?

first_imgWith signs in some countries that the coronavirus pandemic may have reached a plateau, governments are looking at how to lift lockdown restrictions on their crippled businesses and restless populations.But what are the conditions that countries should meet before they can start safely easing these strict measures and return to some kind of normalcy?Don’t act too quickly Experts fear that governments will bow to economic and social pressure to lift their lockdowns prematurely, and warn that such a move could allow COVID-19 to return.”Lifting the restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said.Christian Brechot, Institut Pasteur president and former head of French national medical research institute INSERM, said we must be “very humble and very careful” with a virus that many nations have already underestimated.”It’s not clear with a pandemic of this scale how everything can miraculously return to normal,” Brechot told France Info radio. European nations begin lifting Despite such advice, in the hardest-hit continent Europe — where more than 78,000 people have died from the virus — several countries have already started partially lifting confinement measures.Germany, which has seen new cases drop and was already less affected than some of its neighbours, appeared Monday to be moving towards lifting restrictions in stages.Austria will allow small businesses to reopen after the Easter break, believing it has sufficiently flattened its infection curve.Denmark will reopen daycare nurseries, kindergartens and primary schools from April 15, while the Czech Republic has already begun to gradually ease restrictions, including opening some shops.The countries are following in the footsteps of China, which has loosened its unprecedented lockdown on the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus emerged in December, after the strict measures appeared to have paid off.’Very high plateau’Elsewhere in Europe, however, there are fewer signs that restrictions will soon ease.Britain passed the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths on the weekend while France is expected to extend its lockdown for at least several weeks.France’s national health service director Jerome Salomon said a slight decrease in intensive care admissions was a “pale ray of sunshine,” adding that “a very high plateau” seemed to be setting in.The continent’s hardest-hit countries Italy and Spain also seem to have reached such a high plateau, with their daily death rates gradually falling.But after such a devastating period, neither country is letting down its guard — Italy has extended its confinement measures until May 3, while Spain has done the same until April 25. Ireland, Portugal and Belgium have also extended their measures.Gradual relaxation from mid-May?”It’s not when we have arrived at a plateau that we should lift confinement measures which have helped avoid massive congestion in hospitals,” said Antoine Flahault, a specialist in public health and epidemiology at the University of Geneva.It must only happen “when we see a decline,” he told broadcaster France 2.Researcher Brechot said he “hopes that from mid-May we will be in a situation of deceleration” which will allow a “gradual relaxation” of restrictions.Jean-Francois Delfraissy, who leads the coronavirus science council advising the French government, said “we are not going to go from black to white, but from black to grey, with continued confinement”.”We can start to discuss post-confinement, but the essential and principal factor is to pursue strict confinement for several weeks.”Three conditionsDelfraissy said there were several prerequisites for lifting confinement measures.First, there would need to be an established decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in intensive care.This would give exhausted health workers a badly needed respite and allow hospitals to restock equipment and supplies.The transmission rate of COVID-19 — the number of people an infected individual infects in turn — would need to have dropped below one, compared to 3.3 people at the start of the outbreak.And finally there would need to be a sufficient number of masks to protect the populace and tests to closely monitor the virus’s spread. For example in France, screening capacity would need to increase from the current 30,000 tests a day to 100,000 or even 150,000 a day by the end of April, Delfraissy said.Unknowns Of course, these conditions are subject to much uncertainty, including the possible development an app that uses smartphones to trace the contacts of infected people.Mobile operators have already been providing location data to health researchers in France and Germany.Another major unknown is the effect that summer has on slowing COVID-19’s spread in the northern hemisphere. Respiratory viruses are generally less prevalent in warmer months — flu season is in winter — but will the coronavirus be the same?”If there is no summer brake, then it will be more complicated” to lift confinement measures, said epidemiologist Flahault.Topics :last_img read more

Trump says OPEC+ planning to cut production 20 mn bpd

first_imgYet traders remained nervous about a supply glut, and the US benchmark WTI oil price finished down 1.5 percent at $22.41 in New York trading, while Brent ended up 0.8 percent at $31.74.OPEC members dominated by Saudi Arabia and other producers led by Russia have been negotiating a deal to cut production and support prices for days. Mexico balked at an agreement on Friday, leading Trump to step in and say the US would help Mexico meet its end of the bargain.After a Sunday videoconference, the top producers agreed to slash daily production by 9.7 million barrels from May, according to Mexican Energy Minister Rocio Nahle, down from the 10 million barrels a day envisioned earlier. The agreement between the Vienna-based Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers foresees deep output cuts in May and June followed by a gradual rise in production until April 2022.But with demand down by about 25 million barrels per day and North American producers shutting down their rigs because they don’t have space to store their crude, Dan Pickering, chief investment officer at Pickering Energy Partners, told AFP the deal’s benefits are likely to be seen only later in the year.”The reality is things are bad. They are going to stay bad for a couple of months,” he said. Topics : Top global oil producers are considering slashing output by 20 million barrels a day under the terms of a deal to boost prices, US President Donald Trump said on Monday.Trump’s remarks came after OPEC producers and their allies agreed on Sunday to cut production by 9.7 million bpd, which some analysts feared would be too little to stem the damage from the combination of plunging demand amid the coronavirus pandemic and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.”People are saying 10 million but we think the number they will actually hit is going to be closer to 20 million barrels a day,” Trump said at a press briefing about the coronavirus, referring to how much oil production would be cut.  Not enough? Trump cheered the agreement Monday, saying, “It’s a very monumental agreement.”With countries putting their populations under lockdown, the coronavirus pandemic has caused an economic decline and a global demand slump that has sent oil prices to two-decade lows.Meanwhile, Russia and Saudi Arabia ramped up output in a price war to hold on to market share and undercut US shale producers.Calling Trump’s goal “aspiration,” analyst Andy Lipow said the market reaction to the OPEC+ deal has been “muted,” as uncertainty remains over the degree to which producers will comply with the cuts.”Lots of questions… remain, as far as compliance and ultimately how much oil is actually taken off the market,” he said. “Any increase in prices over the next few months is going to encourage producers to keep on producing.”Storage tanks have also rapidly filled up, and Lipow said markets are watching major economies like China and India to see whether they will make more purchases for their national reserves to free up capacity.Trump announced last month the US would buy “large quantities of crude oil” for storage in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.Producers have resigned themselves to tough times, with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak saying he did not expect oil markets to recover before “end of the year, in the best case,” according to Russian news agency TASS.Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman suggested on Monday further cuts could come when OPEC meets in June.”Flexibility and pragmatism will enable us to continue do more if we have to,” he told Bloomberg. “We have to watch what’s happening with demand destruction or demand improvement, depending on how things evolve.” And he said such a deal could protect millions of US jobs. “This historic action will help nearly 11 million American workers who are supported by the US oil and gas industry.”Trump had already tweeted about the deal earlier in the day.”Thank you to all of those who worked with me on getting this very big business back on track, in particular Russia and Saudi Arabia,” he wrote.last_img read more

UK prepares to extend virus lockdown, says peak has not passed

first_imgThe government must decide by Thursday whether to maintain three-week-old rules to keep schools and shops shut and order people to stay in their homes to try to stop coronavirus spreading.”We don’t expect to make any changes to the measures currently in place at that point, and we won’t until we’re confident as we realistically can be that any such changes can be safely made,” Raab said.He said that “if we eased up too early, we’d risk a second wave” of infections.New figures from the health ministry on Monday revealed that 11,329 people hospitalized with coronavirus have died in Britain, making it one of the worst-affected nations in the world. The British government warned Monday it would not be lifting a nationwide lockdown anytime soon as the country remains in the grip of a coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 11,000 lives.Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputizing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he recovers from his own bout of COVID-19, said there were some “positive” signs of progress.But he warned at a daily media briefing: “We’re still not past the peak of this virus.” Topics : This number is up 717 on the previous day, down from previous daily tolls. However, data on a Monday is often lower due to underreporting at weekends.Johnson became the most high-profile world leader to contract the virus last month and spent a week in hospital — including three days in intensive care — before being discharged on Sunday. The 55-year-old issued a video thanking the medics who cared for him, and admitting that at one point, he believed it “could have gone either way”. ‘Saved my life’ Johnson’s government has faced questions about whether it was too slow to impose the lockdown, keeping pubs, shops and schools open even as they were shutting across Europe.According to The Times newspaper, 10 cabinet ministers — just under half — are pressing for the measures to be eased next month over concern about the economic impact.Raab insisted the government was “united” in its determination to tackle the virus.The government remains under pressure as doctors and nurses complain of a lack of protective equipment and a shortage of coronavirus tests.In his video message, Johnson paid tribute to staff at the state-run National Health Service hospital in London where he was treated.”I hope they won’t mind if I mention in particular two nurses who stood by my bedside for 48 hours when things could have gone either way,” he said.He named them as Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal, adding: “The NHS has saved my life, no question.”The parents of Jenny, identified in media as Jenny McGee, spoke of their “exceptional” pride at her role.”She has told us these things over the years and it doesn’t matter what patient she is looking after, this is what she does,” her mother Caroline told Television New Zealand. Deaths expected to rise Johnson is recuperating at Chequers, a 16th-century mansion northwest of London used as a retreat by British premiers for the past century. He has reportedly been reunited with his pregnant partner Carrie Symonds, who earlier this month reported suffering from coronavirus symptoms herself.Johnson asked Raab to stand in for him when he was admitted to intensive care one week ago, and remains out of action. “The prime minister is focusing on his recovery, and he’s not currently carrying out government work,” Johnson’s spokesman said Monday. Government data suggests the number of new cases is beginning to flatten, although testing is limited, as is the number of people in hospital beds.But Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance warned deaths were expected to keep rising this week, before reaching a plateau, perhaps for two or three weeks, and then decreasing.But the official toll only includes people in hospitals, and “there are of course unfortunately many deaths that also occur outside hospital”, he said. The government said that 92 care homes have reported an outbreak of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, and there are fears many fatalities in institutions are currently underreported.last_img read more

Europe’s virus toll tops 100,000 as protests spread in US

first_imgBut as Americans and others around the world chafe after weeks under shelter-at-home orders, rising resentment erupted this week.Demonstrations Saturday at the capitols of states including Texas, Maryland, New Hampshire and Ohio drew hundreds of people, many waving American flags and some carrying arms, demanding a quick end to state-ordered confinement.’Carried away’The spreading anti-lockdown movement drew encouragement Friday from Trump, who tweeted that three states should be “liberated” from the stay-home orders.Trump has called for a rapid return to normality to limit the devastating damage to the US economy — while largely leaving the final decision on easing lockdowns to state officials.The US leader told reporters on Saturday that some state governors had gotten “carried away” and imposed “unreasonable” restrictions.But Americans, by two-to-one, disagree with the protesters. A new Pew survey found that most were more concerned about ending home confinement too soon rather than too late.At a White House briefing, Trump also warned that China could face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus outbreak which began in the city of Wuhan in December.”It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t,” Trump said. “And now the whole world is suffering.””If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake,” he said. “But if they were knowingly responsible, yeah, then there should be consequences.”Trump also cast doubt on official Chinese figures showing the country has suffered just 0.33 deaths per 100,000 people.”The number’s impossible,” he said.The United States, according to a chart displayed at the briefing, has had 11.24 deaths per 100,000 people while France has had 27.92 and Spain 42.81.China’s death toll jumped to 4,632 on Friday after it raised by 50 percent the number of fatalities for Wuhan.’Under control’Mounting evidence suggests that social distancing slowed the pandemic after more than half of humanity — 4.5 billion people — were confined to their homes.Many countries are testing only the most serious cases and the number of confirmed infections is likely to be a fraction of the true total. Stay-at-home orders have been enforced in Italy and Spain, still the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with 23,227 and 20,043 fatalities respectively, followed by France with 19,323 deaths. Britain’s overall death toll is officially 15,464.As governments around the world grapple with when and how to ease lockdowns that have crippled the global economy, Spain on Saturday extended its nationwide lockdown to May 9.Japan, Britain and Mexico have all expanded their movement restrictions.Yet elsewhere, signs that the outbreak could be easing prompted Switzerland, Denmark and Finland to begin reopening shops and schools this week.Germany has declared the virus “under control” after 3,400 deaths, and is beginning the delicate task of lifting some restrictions without triggering a secondary outbreak — with some shops allowed to reopen Monday, and some children returning to school within weeks.Parts of Italy began emerging from lockdown too, with Venice residents strolling around quiet canals.Iran also allowed some Tehran businesses to reopen Saturday despite the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak.”How can I keep staying home? My family is hungry,” said Hamdollah Mahmoudi, 45, a shopworker in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar.1,000 deaths in AfricaVirtually no corner of the world has been left untouched, with deaths in Africa passing 1,000.Nigeria announced the death of a top aide to President Muhammadu Buhari.Meanwhile, many of the world’s 260 million Orthodox Christians are preparing to mark Easter without attending church services. In Zimbabwe, mass rallies and military parades to mark the country’s 40th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule were cancelled.And Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II will not mark her birthday on Tuesday with a traditional gun salute.Signs of the global economic carnage wrought by the pandemic are accumulating, with China reporting its first GDP contraction since at least the early 1990s. Topics : Worldwide, more than 2,289,500 people have tested positive for the highly contagious virus.Europe accounts for a total of 100,510 deaths — nearly two-thirds of the 157,539 fatalities worldwide, according to an AFP tally, while nearly a quarter of deaths have come in the United States.The United States has the highest caseload of any country, with more than 734,000 confirmed infections, and by Saturday had lost 38,664 people to the virus, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. Progress was marked in some places, with New York state reporting the lowest number of deaths in weeks, which Governor Andrew Cuomo attributed largely to social distancing.  Coronavirus deaths surged past 100,000 in hardest-hit Europe on Saturday as hundreds of Americans frustrated by lockdown orders and egged on by President Donald Trump staged protests in several US cities.As the latest grim data emerged, performers from around the world kicked off an hours-long live-streamed concert aimed at supporting health care workers, and cultivating a sense of community in a time of crisis. The six-hour event, which includes A-listers ranging from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to award-winning teen singer Billie Eilish to the Rolling Stones, was brought together by the advocacy group Global Citizen with the World Health Organization.last_img read more

Airbnb slashes staff in effort to ride out pandemic

first_imgHome-sharing platform Airbnb said Tuesday it will slash one fourth of its workforce — some 1,900 people — as the coronavirus pandemic crushes the travel industry.The cuts are needed for the San Francisco-based company to survive until people start traveling anew, Airbnb co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky said in a blog post.”We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, and as it began to unfold, global travel came to a standstill,” Chesky said. Airbnb explained that it will try to soften the blow with benefits including providing 12 months of health insurance to laid-off workers.The job cuts will be spread about the company’s global operations, with a goal of tuning a more focused business strategy that returns to Airbnb “roots” of being a platform for sharing homes and local experiences, according to Chesky.”Teams across all of Airbnb will be impacted,” Chesky said.”Many teams will be reduced in size based on how well they map to where Airbnb is headed.” Topics :center_img Airbnb added that it will cut investments in transportation, hotels or other endeavors that do not directly support hosts whose homes are listed on the platform.Airbnb in April announced it was taking a billion dollars in new investment to endure and, it hopes, thrive in a travel world transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.The fresh resources will enable the San Francisco-based company to invest in its community of “hosts” as well as local experiences provided along with stays in homes, Chesky said at the time.Airbnb planned to focus particularly on long-term stays, from students needing housing to remote workers, building on a rising demand the platform has seen as people self-isolate during the pandemic.The company recently announced new cleaning “protocols” to reassure travelers. Airbnb is also helping hosts with financial losses after guests cancelled travel plans.last_img read more

Trump admits US reopening will cost more lives

first_imgPresident Donald Trump conceded Tuesday that more Americans will die in reopening the US economy but underlined his insistence on a dwindling coronavirus threat by refusing to wear a mask, even as he toured a mask-making factory.Asked by ABC News whether a lifting of social distancing measures and reopening of the shuttered economy will lead to higher death tolls, Trump said “it’s possible there will be some.””Because you won’t be locked into an apartment or a house or whatever it is,” Trump said at the Honeywell factory in Phoenix, Arizona, which he visited on his first major trip since the coronavirus lockdown began. Alterative facts Trump’s Arizona mask moment came after his vice president, Mike Pence, caused an uproar a week ago when he was photographed mask-less during a visit to the famous Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, which requires visitors to cover up.Pence — unusually for a member of the Trump administration — publicly admitted he’d been wrong.”I didn’t think it was necessary, but I should have worn a mask,” he said on Sunday.On a subsequent trip, Pence did wear a mask.The White House says that because top officials and their guests are frequently tested for the coronavirus they generally don’t need to follow the guidance.However, the controversy runs deeper, reflecting a dispute over facts that has turned swaths of the United States into camps where the left and right see different basic realities.Polls show that Democrats support face covering as a sign of shared responsibility, while some Republicans see mask-wearing orders as a big government threat to individual liberty.Trump-supported groups protesting the coronavirus lockdown — sometimes ostentatiously brandishing firearms and parading in paramilitary garb — liken going mask-free to an act of political independence.In Stillwater, Oklahoma, and other cities, local leaders abandoned orders to wear masks after threats of violence.A common slogan at the protests now is that the entire pandemic is a “hoax.” Topics : Bolstering that shift of direction, the White House said that Trump’s emergency coordination group for the pandemic would be disbanding, probably by early June.center_img “Will some people be affected badly? Yes,” he admitted earlier at the factory. “But we have to get our country open.”Trump’s November reelection campaign is reeling from the massive shutdown ordered to try and stop the spread of the virus, which has already killed 70,000 Americans and is forecast to take tens of thousands more lives.Praising the Honeywell workers, who churn out masks used by medical staff and other first responders, Trump reiterated that it’s time to look ahead.”I want to be a cheerleader,” he said. Unpresidential masks?Trump’s audience at Honeywell sat masked in compliance with US government recommendations and their own company rule, which was clearly displayed on a sign in the facility reading: “Please wear your mask at all times.”Trump had teased as he left Washington that after months of resistance he might finally cover his face.The fact that he skipped the opportunity to make a statement about safety was in line with his new focus on getting Americans to return to work.And he has been skeptical about masks since early on.White House medical experts and even First Lady Melania Trump promote masks as a crucial tool in fighting the viral spread.But the president, tuned closely into his loyal right-wing base, has used his massive visibility to downplay the need.”I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know,” he said in April, apparently suggesting a mask would be unpresidential. “Somehow, I don’t see it for myself.”last_img read more