Dr. Anne Schuchat appears on CNN to give updates to the public during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, while Daniel Jernigan, leader of the Epidemiology and Laboratory Task Force, watches. During the pandemic, Schuchat acted as the face of the CDC, keeping the public up to date on the evolving situation. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION
Photo: SPECIAL
Photo: SPECIAL

The Jolt: CDC official says coronavirus has spread too widely and quickly to control in U.S.

It's safe to say that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention In Atlanta has come off the sidelines, where the nation’s premier public health agency had lingered for several months after saying more about the dangers of COVID-19 than President Donald Trump thought necessary in February.

It is not reemerging as a bearer of good news.

Last week, CDC Director Robert Redfield said his agency believes that, for every American who tested positive for COVID-19 this spring, there were another 10 whose cases went undiagnosed.

On Monday, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the CDC, was interviewed by The Journal of the American Medical Association. The coronavirus is spreading too fast and too widely to bring it under control in the U.S., she said. From an account posted by CNBC:

“We’re not in the situation of New Zealand or Singapore or Korea where a new case is rapidly identified and all the contacts are traced and people are isolated who are sick and people who are exposed are quarantined and they can keep things under control,” she said… “We have way too much virus across the country for that right now, so it’s very discouraging.”

…“There was a wave of incredible acceleration, intense interventions and control measures that have brought things down to a much lower level of circulation in the New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey area. But in much of the rest of the country, there’s still a lot of virus. And in lots of places, there’s more virus circulating than there was.”

So now you know why, also on Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp let it be known that he would go on a statewide fly-around tour ahead of the July Fourth weekend to encourage Georgians to wear masks. 

And why the city of Jacksonville, Fla., where a mask-averse plans to accept the Republican nomination in August, ordered the wearing of face coverings at indoor locations on Monday, joining the list of state and local governments reversing course to try to beat back a resurgence of the coronavirus.

***

Georgia U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have both tied their political futures, in large part, to President Donald Trump.

Perdue, with access to the White House, has earned the reputation of being a top Trump defender, a title that keeps him popular with the Georgia GOP base.

Loeffler wasn’t Trump’s first choice to replace U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, but she has earned enough of the president’s trust to keep a trunk endorsement out of the hands of her main Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Gainesville.

Both are on the November ballot. 

This is the context for their silence -- and the silence of many other Senate Republicans -- when Trump expresses himself, usually on social media, in ways that are widely perceived as out-of-line. 

The most recent example came on Sunday when the president shared a video on Twitter of a supporter yelling out “white power” during a counter-protest at a Florida retirement community. Trump deleted the post hours later, but not before it went viral.

Perdue’s campaign, in response to the tweet, said the senator “condemns racism and discrimination of any kind.” But asked if he had any direct response to Trump’s Tweet or the perception that he and other Republicans are unwilling to challenge the president, Perdue did not respond.

Loeffler’s campaign did what it usually does: Blame the media and reinforce the “Team Trump” spirit. 

“This is just another one of the media's silly games that we refuse to play,” campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson said. “Kelly is 100% behind President Trump's plan to revive the U.S. economy, hold Big Tech accountable, and keep the American people safe. Like the president, she stands strongly against racism and hate.”

***

Over at Capitol Beat News Service, Dave Williams has a granular breakdown of the university system capital projects contained in the state budget that goes into effect on Wednesday:

The final version of the $25.9 billion fiscal 2021 budget lawmakers adopted late last week doubles the bond financing for a series of projects on university, college and technical college campuses. But it does so by zeroing out the funding for other projects.

Throughout the budget review process, the legislature left alone the largest project in the $1.13 billion bond package for the coming fiscal year: a $70 million expansion of the Savannah Convention Center in Gov. Brian Kemp’s original budget recommendations.

…Stone Mountain took a huge hit, losing the full $10.24 million that was to have gone for Phase II renovations at the Evergreen Conference Center & Resort. Another $3.56 million for campground renovations at Stone Mountain Park was axed.

***

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, locked in an Aug. 11 Democratic primary runoff With former chief deputy Fani Willis, has been endorsed by third-place finisher Christian Wise Smith. Smith received 23% of the vote on June 9. Howard finished second to Willis. 

***

Democrat Stacey Abrams on Monday pitched Georgia’s dual U.S. Senate contests as a “two for one” deal.

On a video call with Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee to challenge Sen. David Perdue, and Raphael Warnock, her chosen pick in the special election against U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Abrams spoke of tantalizing opportunities for Democrats in Georgia.

“Together this is a ticket that can change the future of Georgia, and we’re not the only ones to see it,” she said, mentioning record-breaking Democratic turnout in this month’s primary and the decision by President Donald Trump’s campaign to spend nearly $500,000 on TV ads in Georgia.

“When is the last time a Republican presidential candidate had to advertise in Georgia at all, let alone in June?” Abrams asked. “When you add the enthusiasm, the moment, you know that Georgia isn’t just a battleground state. It’s the battleground state.”

Pressed on whether national Democrats are pouring time and treasure into the state needed to flip it in November – remember, it was a frustrated Abrams who warned last year that not investing in Georgia would be “malpractice” – she said behind-the-scenes efforts are picking up.

“We have already seen an increase in staffing and access to resources,” said Abrams. “The (Joe) Biden campaign is building campaign staffing here.” And, she added, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is in constant contact with Georgia leaders.

“We’re getting the resources we need and the national party is responding to what’s happening on the ground,” said Warnock. “It mirrors what’s going on in the country. There’s a coalition of conscience pouring out into America’s streets.”

***

In the middle of that chat, one of your Insiders asked Jon Ossoff’s camp if his presence on a call with the Rev. Raphael Warnock was tantamount to an endorsement of him. 

We were told yes, without a doubt, that Ossoff has endorsed Warnock in the contest and long been supportive of his candidacy in the free-for-all race that also features fellow Democrats Matt Lieberman and Ed Tarver.

Other Democrats endorsed Warnock on Tuesday, including former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, House Minority Leader Bob Trammell of Luthersville, 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans and dozens of other state legislators.

“As a man of faith, I know that Reverend Warnock will be committed to fighting for the least among us in the Senate, and to ensuring that the interests of hardworking people and families are represented in Washington,” said Cleland.

***

Several media outlets have independently verified the New York Times scoop about a Russian bounty program that reportedly resulted in the Taliban targeting of American troops in Afghanistan.

A Trump spokeswoman said Monday that the president was never made fully aware of concerns expressed by national security officials. But the New York Times this morning reports that the allegation was delivered to the president in writing, in a February daily briefing report.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress are calling for more details.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., and U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, are poised to be on the front lines of congressional fact-finding inquiries. They each serve on the armed services committees in their respective chambers.

Scott’s office Wasn't ready to address the situation on Monday, but Perdue’s office released the following statement: 

“Senator Perdue has been strong on holding Russia accountable, clearly a lot of questions remain about these alleged reports, and he expects to be briefed about this by the U.S. intelligence community.”

***

A poll commissioned by the left-leaning End Citizens United is the latest to show an oh-so-close race in Georgia. 

Conducted by Public Policy Polling, it pegs Joe Biden with a 49-45 lead over President Donald Trump and a tight race for Senate between U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (23%), U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (21%) and Raphael Warnock (20%).

In hypothetical head-to-head matchups for a January runoff, Warnock was deadlocked against both Loeffler and Collins. Both Biden and Trump were underwater, with unfavorable ratings hovering near 50%.

The National Journal has the deets -- check it out here.

***

Republican elected officials continue to coalesce around the campaign of Dr. John Cowan, who is in the runoff for the GOP nomination in the 14th congressional district.

Cowan’s campaign says he now has the support of 12 General Assembly members who hail from northwest Georgia, including four senators and eight representatives. The list includes State Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.

Cowan faces Marjorie Taylor Greene in the Aug. 11 runoff. Greene’s campaign has lost support ever since news reports highlighted racist and xenophobic comments she made in social media videos.

***

The National Education Association, which calls itself the largest professional organization in the country, has slated Stacey Abrams for one of its most prestigious awards. Abrams is the recipient of the President’s Award, which is given each year to a person who has worked to expand human and civil rights. 

***

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice has lost a contest to serve as the House Oversight Committee’s ranking member to U.S. Rep. James Comer of Kentucky.

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