The United States is "not in total control" of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 cases in the country go up to 100,000 per day if the current trend "does not turn around," Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious-diseases expert, said on Tuesday.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the country is "going in the wrong direction" as the number of COVID-19 cases increases across the nation.
"I can't make an accurate prediction, but it's going to be very disturbing," Fauci told senators in a hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
"We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned," he said.
Fauci stressed that he could not make an estimation on deaths as those would need to be modeled.
His comments came as the number of new cases reported each day in the United States is outpacing that of April, when the pandemic rocked Washington state and other parts of the country, especially the New York City area.
More than 2.6 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the country with the fatalities surpassing 127,000 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Fauci warned that some states are "skipping over" checkpoints in the federal reopening guidelines and that this is leading to new hotspots in states like Texas, Florida and Arizona.
According to Fauci, about 50 percent of all new cases are coming from four states: Florida, California, Texas and Arizona.
The outbreaks in various parts of the country put "the entire country at risk" and "clearly we don't have this under control," Fauci added.
He said that even states and localities that "did it right" regarding reopening still have individuals who engaged in an "all or none phenomenon", disregarding social-distancing measures and face mask usage while out socially.
"In this viral surge we are seeing more tests being done but we are also seeing a higher percentage of those tests be positive. This indicates more infection is the issue - not more testing," Robert Schooley, a professor of medicine with the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, told Xinhua in an interview.
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday to protect monuments, memorials and statues facing new scrutiny amid debate over the nation's racist beginnings.
The order calls on the attorney general to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law any person or group that destroys or vandalizes a monument, memorial or statue.
Federal law authorizes a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for the “willful injury” of federal property.
The order also calls for maximum prosecution for anyone who incites violence and illegal activity, and it threatens state and local law enforcement agencies that fail to protect monuments with the loss of federal funding.
Trump announced earlier Friday on Twitter that he had signed the order and called it “strong.”
Earlier in the day, the president used Twitter to call for the arrest of protesters involved with the attempt to bring down the Jackson statue from Lafayette Park.
He retweeted an FBI wanted poster showing pictures of 15 protesters who are wanted for “vandalization of federal property."
Trump wrote, “MANY people in custody, with many others being sought for Vandalization of Federal Property in Lafayette Park. 10 year prison sentences!”
He also said on Twitter that he had scrapped plans to spend the weekend at his central New Jersey home to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.”
“These arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped," Trump tweeted. "I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe — and these people will be brought to Justice!"
Protesters on Monday night attempted to drag the Jackson statue down with ropes and chains. Police repelled the protesters and sealed off Lafayette Park, which had been reopened to the public for more than a week after protests against the death of George Floyd at police hands in Minnesota. On Tuesday, police cleared out the entire area around the corner of 16th and H streets — and pushed demonstrators away from the intersection, which had recently been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza by the city.
Statistics released by the Metropolitan Police Department show that nine people were arrested Tuesday night and a total of 12 arrested between Monday and Wednesday. There were no protest-related arrests Thursday, according to the MPD data.
Demonstrators have grown increasingly emboldened about targeting statues deemed offensive or inappropriate. On June 19, or Juneteenth, the day marking the end of slavery in the United States, cheering crowds puled down a statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike. The statue stood on federal land and had withstood previous attempts by the Washington, D.C., government to remove it. According to participants, police officers were on the scene but did not attempt to interfere.
The targeting of the statues has become a rallying cry for Trump and other conservatives. Immediately after the Pike statute was toppled and set ablaze, Trump called the incident a "disgrace to our Country!” on Twitter.
A federal judge on Friday denounced the Trump administration’s prolonged detention of families during the coronavirus pandemic and ordered the release of children held with their parents in U.S. immigration jails.
U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee’s order applies to children held for more than 20 days at three family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some have been detained since last year, reports AP.
Gee set a deadline of July 17 for children to either be released with their parents or sent to family sponsors.
The family detention centers “are ‘on fire’ and there is no more time for half measures," she wrote.
Gee's order said ICE was detaining 124 children in its centers, which are separate from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services facilities for unaccompanied children that were holding around 1,000 children in early June. The numbers in both systems have fallen significantly since earlier in the Trump administration because the U.S. is expelling most people trying to cross the border or requiring them to wait for their immigration cases in Mexico.
Gee oversees a long-running court settlement governing the U.S. government’s treatment of immigrant children known as the Flores agreement. Her order does not directly apply to the parents detained with their children.
Gee’s order says ICE can decline to release a child if there is not a suitable sponsor, the child’s parent waives rights under the Flores agreement, or if there is a “prior unexplained failure to appear at a scheduled hearing.”
ICE did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
But most parents last month refused to designate a sponsor when ICE officials unexpectedly asked them who could take their children if the adults remained detained, according to lawyers for the families.
The agency said then it was conducting a “routine parole review consistent with the law” and Gee’s previous orders.
At the detention center in nearby Dilley, at least three parents and children — including a child who turned 2 this week — were placed in isolation after two private contractors and an ICE official tested positive for the virus.
Amy Maldonado, an attorney who works with detained families, said Gee “clearly recognized that the government is not willing to protect the health and safety of the children, which is their obligation.”
More than 2,500 people in ICE custody have tested positive for COVID-19. The agency says it has released at least 900 people considered to have heightened medical risk and reduced the populations at its three family detention centers. But in court filings last month, ICE said it considered most of the people in family detention to be flight risks because they had pending deportation orders or cases under review.
The US government inspectors have found that the US Treasury has mistakenly sent more than $1.4bn of its pandemic rescue funds to dead people.
The finding was one of several ‘challenges’ uncovered in the official review of federal coronavirus aid, reports BBC.
Inspectors said that the rush to deliver the money has contributed to this errors.
Congress has pumped some $2.6tn into the American economy in an effort to shield it from virus slowdown since March.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the Treasury Department, did not check death records.
However, some of the tax officials working on the programme said they raised concerns about the risk of erroneous mailings.
The report also warned that the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses - a low-cost loan fund that accounts for 26% of US pandemic spending - was at "significant risk" of fraud, faulting the Small Business Administration for not cooperating with requests for information about the loans and its plans for oversight.
The inspectors also said that "Because of the number of loans approved, the speed with which they were processed, and the limited safeguards, there is a significant risk that some fraudulent or inflated applications were approved."
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order suspending the issuance of a number of certain employment-based visas until the end of 2020.
The order also applies to H-2B visas for short-term seasonal workers, H-4 visas for spouses of H-1B visa holders, L-1 visas for executives transferring to the U.S. from positions abroad with the same employer, as well as certain J-1 visas which are given to researchers, scholars and other specialized categories.
It will not apply to visa-holders already in the United States, or those outside the country who have already been issued valid visas.
"Temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete against American workers. Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy," the order reads.
"But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers," it continues.
Around 300,000 J-1 visa recipients come to the U.S. every year, according to the American Immigration Council.
The new restrictions will prevent about 525,000 people from entering the United States between now and the end of the year, including 170,000 green-card holders who have been barred from coming to the country since April, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing a senior Trump administration official.
The Trump administration will grant exemptions for health-care workers focusing on treating and researching COVID-19 as well as those working in the food supply chain, including seafood and food packaging, said the report.
A number of American tech industry and other business leaders have warned that the move will weaken companies' ability to recruit top talents to the U.S. and lead them to move more operations abroad.
"Today's proclamation is a severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration. Putting up a 'not welcome' sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won't help our country, it will hold us back. Restrictive changes to our nation's immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation," Thomas Donohue, the CEO of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.
"American businesses that rely on help from these visa programs should not be forced to close without serious consideration," nine Republican senators wrote in a May 27 letter addressed to Trump, "guest workers are needed to boost American business."
The Monday order is the latest effort by the Trump administration to cater for immigration hardliners and groups, a key constituency of the president's political base that argue American workers should be prioritized, especially amid the economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new restrictions, which will take effect on June 24, expand a temporary immigration ban the Trump administration introduced in April that blocked some family members of U.S. citizens and reduced the number of high-skilled workers from immigrating to the country for the time being.