Trump aides seek to discredit Fauci over coronavirus crisis as cases surge
The Trump administration is increasingly at war with Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top public health expert, over the handling of the coronavirus crisis, as the US continues to report around 60,000 new cases a day.
On Monday Donald Trump once again sought to downplay the outbreak and erroneously blame extra testing for high numbers of cases, adding that the US was doing a “great job”, while Fauci, in an online talk with a Stanford University expert, said: “We have let the local public health infrastructure in our country really go into tatters.”
Fauci also warned that some states, in rushing to reopen before coronavirus was under control and on the decline, went “from shutdown to completely throwing caution to the wind” and were part of the surge in numbers.
In what had appeared to be a concerted effort to discredit the infectious diseases expert, Trump aides told news outlets over the weekend Fauci, who has become the public face of the government’s response, had made a series of “mistakes” in his predictions.
Australia records more than 10,000 coronavirus cases
The Australian state of Victoria has recorded 270 new cases of coronavirus, which brings the national total to about 10,250.
The state of New South Wales has recorded 13 new cases of coronavirus to 8pm last night. Of those, two are returned travellers in hotel quarantine, and one is a known close contact of a previous overseas case who was isolated prior to becoming infectious.
Ten other cases are connected to a cluster at the Crossroads pub. Three of the cases attended the venue, and the remaining seven are close contacts.
That brings the number of cases associated with the Crossroads Hotel cluster to 28, NSW chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said.
California orders closure of bars and indoor operations of restaurants and theaters
California’s governor has ordered all bars to close statewide and all restaurants, movie theaters and museums to halt indoor operations, in a dramatic rolling back of reopening efforts as coronavirus cases continue to surge.
In addition to the statewide closures, the 30 counties on the state’s monitoring list must also shut down indoor operations at places of worship, fitness centers, hair salons, barbershops and malls.
California is contending with a rapidly growing caseload; the state has seen an average of 8,211 daily cases over the past week, an uptick from the 7,876 average from the week before. The positivity rate has increased to 7.4%, up from 6.1% a few weeks prior.
“It’s incumbent on all of us to recognize, soberly, that Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon,” said Gavin Newsom, California’s governor.
Australian agricultural exporters are reassessing their dependence on the China market after previously viewing financial benefits of such trade as being worth the risk, a senior public servant has said.
A range of agricultural groups and industry bodies will today give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry looking into the need to diversify Australia’s trade and investment profile.The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has told the inquiry the impact of Covid-19 had “highlighted the vulnerabilities from reduced demand and disruptions to global supply chains” and it warned that trade concentration could “sharpen” the consequences of a disruption in a key market.
In a submission, the department says exports to China accounted for 29% of the total value of Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports in 2018-19, up from 21% four years earlier.
David Hazlehurst, the acting secretary of the department, was asked to explain the claim in the department’s submission that the “likelihood of a targeted trade disruption is reduced where there is mutual dependence, such as Australia’s live cattle exports to Indonesia and Vietnam or in the case of a range of Australia’s exports to China”.
The chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth, George Christensen, likened it to “mutually assured destruction” theory from during the Cold War.Hazlehurst replied that countries would operate in a way that they perceived to be in their own interests.
Explaining what had driven Australian exporters to focus on China, Hazelhurst said:
Particularly as many have observed in relation to China, the price premium for many agricultural products is so high that it’s led to many agribusinesses making the judgments that the risk is worth taking. Now those judgements may be being recalculated by those businesses over time, but the judgement they made at the time was that that premium was worth taking that risk.”