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Until recently, Deborah Birx, the White House’s top coronavirus coordinator, enjoyed a good relationship with President Trump. But after five months of negative headlines, Trump has started to associate Birx with the government’s failed response to the pandemic, and the once-celebrated physician has been spending less time in Oval Office, two former administration officials told The Washington Post. Things came to a head on Monday, when Trump derided Birx as “pathetic” in a tweet, frustrated that she hadn’t expressed more optimism while delivering a grim warning about “extraordinary widespread” contagion over the weekend.
Later on Monday, Trump appeared to backtrack, saying he had “a lot of respect” for Birx.
A little more than 48,000 new cases and 524 fatalities were reported nationwide on Monday. The U.S. has reported upward of 4,689,000 cases and 152,000 deaths since February.
Here are some significant developments:
- As coronavirus outbreaks continue to ravage the Sun Belt, caseloads have been steadily creeping up in states that remained largely unaffected during the spring and early summer, with Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma seeing some of the largest gains in the past week. Southern states — including Florida, Mississippi and Alabama — continue to report some of the highest daily tallies overall.
- As Congress continued to engage in protracted negotiations over a new coronavirus relief bill on Monday, Trump said that he would consider using his executive powers to stop evictions and lower payroll taxes if a deal wasn’t reached.
- Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction said that it was “unlikely” that schools could safely reopen by Aug. 17, setting up a potential conflict with Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who has said that schools that don’t offer at least some in-person classes will lose out on funding.
- The University of Texas at Austin has banned both on and off-campus parties for the fall semester, though it’s unclear how those rules will be enforced.
- Seven St. Louis Cardinals players and six staff members have tested positive for covid-19, forcing Major League Baseball to postpone yet another series of games.