July 27, 2020

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien tested positive for coronavirus, Bloomberg reported and an administration official later confirmed to Politico.

O'Brien is the highest ranking White House official and the closest to President Trump known to test positive for the virus. He reportedly came down with the virus after a family event and has been working at home since late last week. He had recently been in Europe, meeting with officials in the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy, CNN notes.

O'Brien, senior National Security Council staff, and other people close to Trump are tested daily for COVID-19. The U.S. has so far seen 4 million of the world's 16 million coronavirus cases and about 149,000 of its nearly 650,000 deaths. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 21, 2020

United Airlines announced on Tuesday that it lost $1.6 billion in its second quarter, an 87 percent drop from a year earlier, due to the coronavirus pandemic limiting travel.

The airline said this was "the most difficult financial quarter in its 94-year history." For the same quarter in 2019, United posted a $1.05 billion profit.

To cut costs, United will fly 35 percent of its normal schedule through September. It is also bracing for mass layoffs, recently saying that unless there is more demand for travel, the company might have to cut half of its domestic workforce. About 6,000 employees have accepted voluntary buyout packages. Catherine Garcia

July 17, 2020

While there have been negative rumors about working for Ellen DeGeneres for years, 11 current and former employees of her daytime television show who spoke with BuzzFeed News confirmed that "they faced racism, fear, and intimidation" behind the scenes. "That 'be kind' bulls--t only happens when the cameras are on," one former employee claimed. "It's all for show."

The Ellen DeGeneres Show employees, all of whom remained anonymous out of fear of retribution, said they were directed not to talk to the host, and endured demeaning comments and treatment by higher-level staff, including a senior-level producer joking that he hoped he wouldn't get two Black employees confused because they both had box braids.

Others described seemingly being punished for taking medical leave — one employee who spent a month in a mental health facility for a suicide attempt returned to find their job eliminated — and others had to fight supervisors and HR to get time off to attend family funerals, or for serious health reasons. One employee was even scolded for creating a GoFundMe page to pay medical costs not covered by the company's health insurance, out of concerns about how it would make DeGeneres look. "They were more concerned about Ellen's brand instead of helping me out," the employee said.

"I think it is a lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to the show’s brand," another former employee told BuzzFeed News. "They pull on people's heartstrings … But that's not always reality." Read more about what employees say it's like to work for The Ellen DeGeneres Show here. Jeva Lange

July 14, 2020

When asked on Tuesday why African Americans are "dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country," President Trump responded, "And so are white people. So are white people."

The question was posed during an interview with CBS News' Catherine Herridge. Trump told Herridge this was "a terrible question to ask. So are white people — more white people, by the way, more white people."

In 2015, The Washington Post began tallying every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States. The Post's database shows that white people account for about half of all deadly officer-involved shootings. Because the Census Bureau estimates that roughly 76 percent of the country is white and 13 percent is Black, based on the Post's numbers, Black people are shot and killed by police officers at more than twice the rate of white people. Catherine Garcia

July 14, 2020

Florida is now leading much of the world in new coronavirus cases, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.

Florida reported 9,194 new coronavirus cases in the past day on Tuesday afternoon, bring its total case count to 291,629. A total of 132 new deaths were reported, bringing that count to 4,409, per the Miami Herald.

Miami-Dade County led the new case count at 2,090, leading one infectious disease expert to deem Miami the new "epicenter of the pandemic," CNN reports. "What we were seeing in Wuhan six months ago, five months ago — now we are there," said Lilian Abbo, of the Jackson Health System, during a Monday news conference held by the Miami-Dade County mayor.

The county has seen coronavirus hospitalizations grow by 68 percent and the number of ICU beds used go up by 69 percent in the past two weeks. The number of ventilators in use has also more than doubled during that time. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 8, 2020

President Trump's campaign rally at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, stadium in late June "likely contributed" to a big jump in new COVID-19 cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday.

"In the past few days, we've seen almost 500 new cases, and we had several large events just over two weeks ago, so I guess we just connect the dots," Dart said in explaining the case surge. The city saw a record high of 261 new cases on Monday, and another 206 on Tuesday. Several Trump campaign staffers tested positive for COVID-19 before the event, and a reporter who attended the rally and Trump campaign surrogate Herman Cain tested positive after it. Oklahoma is among several southern and western states that have seen massive rises in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks after many of them moved to reopen businesses.

Trump is set to have another rally this weekend in New Hampshire, where case counts have been steadily declining. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has encouraged rally attendees to wear masks. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 29, 2020

When President Trump talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the phone, he is often unprepared, lacks historical knowledge, praises himself, and talks trash about former presidents, several people with firsthand knowledge of the calls told CNN's Carl Bernstein.

Over the last four months, Bernstein spoke with more than a dozen officials who have either listened to Trump's phone conversations with foreign leaders in real time or were given detailed summaries and recording printouts of the calls. They did not reveal any classified information, but did share their opinions on Trump's behavior, with one person saying the calls are "abominations" and if they ever told members of Congress about the conversations, even top Republicans would lose confidence in Trump.

During his talks with Putin, several sources told Bernstein, Trump mostly talks about himself and how successful he has been. Trump "sits there and thinks he can build himself up enough as a businessman and tough guy that Putin will respect him," one person recounted, while another said Trump "gives away the advantage that was hard won in the Cold War" in part by "giving Putin and Russia a legitimacy they never had."

Trump believes "he is a better judge of character than anyone else," one person told Bernstein, so he typically won't listen to expert analyses of how foreign leaders think. One of his first calls with Putin was "all over the place," one official said, but Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner — two of several officials in the room listening — immediately began praising Trump when the call ended.

While Trump fawned over Putin and Erdogan, he went out of his way to be combative with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former British Prime Minister Theresa May, and French President Emmanuel Macron, Bernstein reports. Trump told May she lacks courage, called Merkel "stupid," and would lecture Macron when he tried to convince him to take climate change seriously. One German official told Bernstein that Trump was "very aggressive," while Merkel stayed calm. Because the calls were "so unusual" and "problematic," the German government has gone above and beyond to keep their contents secret, the official added.

In response to the report, White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews told CNN that Trump is "a world class negotiator who has consistently furthered America's interests on the world stage." Catherine Garcia

June 26, 2020

On Friday, Texas became the first state to reimpose a lockdown as it faces what Gov. Greg Abbott described as a "massive outbreak" of COVID-19 cases following its attempted reopening, The Hill reports.

Abbott's executive order will close bars that had previously been allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, beginning at noon on Friday (bars may remain open for delivery and takeout). Restaurants are also being scaled back from being allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity for dine-in service to 50 percent capacity, beginning Monday. Outdoor gatherings of over 100 people are once more banned (the number had recently been raised to 500), and river-rafting trips and tubing have also been halted.

"At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars," Abbott said in his statement, adding "we can only slow the spread if everyone in Texas does their part."

Texas initially imposed its statewide lockdown in mid-March. Abbott allowed restaurants to reopen on May 1 at limited capacity, followed by bars on May 22, also at limited capacity. "The state now has almost twice as many people hospitalized with COVID-19 as it did on June 14, when the number was at 2,287," writes CBS News. "This spike occurred after restaurants were allowed to increase capacity to 75 percent and almost all businesses allowed to operate with some safety measures in place."

As recently as Thursday, Abbott had insisted that "the last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses." Jeva Lange

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