04.08.2021

Coronavirus testing, 17 states sue over student visa rule

The president defended his “very good” relationship with the nation’s leading infectious disease expert as he falsely claimed that the US has one of the lowest Covid-19 mortality rates and blamed the Obama administration for US testing shortfalls, claiming that his predecessor “stopped their testing” despite the pandemic beginning three years after he left office.

His latest spats come as new cases of Covid-19 continue to surge in the Sun Belt states, with Florida reporting a record 15,299 cases on Sunday and the Texas city of Houston weighing a return to lockdown.

Donald Trump has again lashed out on Twitter against his key media ally, Fox News, accusing the network of “working so hard against the people that got them there” and saying its contributors are “all over the place”.

A move by the White House to discredit the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, by labelling him too frequently “wrong” about the coronavirus pandemic has meanwhile been derided as “atrocious” by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo denounced the administration’s push to reopen schools, saying that the states is “not going to use our children as guinea pigs” or as a “litmus test” for national reopenings as he accused the president of “gross negligence” for “denying” public health experts.

Seventeen states and Washington DC have also sued the administration over its plans to drop certain visas for students at universities moving to online classes despite the raging pandemic.

5.4m Americans lost health insurance during pandemic, report says

An estimated 5.4 million Americans lost their health insurance within the first few months of 2020 following mass layoffs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout.
More Americans became uninsured between February and May than over any year in history, according to a report from nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families USA, which compiled state-by-state reports estimating Covid-19’s impact among workers under 65.

In that time, at least 22 million Americans lost their jobs or left the workforce. The public health crisis also has stripped roughly 16 million workers and their families from employer-provided health plans, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“Despite these historic coverage losses, no Covid-19 legislation yet signed into law has made a serious effort to protect comprehensive health insurance,” Families USA reported. “Policymakers know that millions of people are losing employer-based coverage. But they do not know how many people are becoming uninsured and how many are retaining coverage by shifting to insurance offered by a spousal employer, Medicaid, or the individual insurance market. … Policymakers need to know now about the magnitude of coverage losses as they decide whether and, if so, how the next Covid-19 legislation will restore and maintain comprehensive health insurance.”

The report found that the spike in uninsured Americans – adding to an estimated 84 million people who are already un- or underinsured – is 39 per cent higher than any previous annual increase, including the most recent surge at the height of the recession between 2008 and 2009 when nearly 4 million non-elderly Americans lost insurance.

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