Coronavirus US live: Georgia Senate candidate awaiting Covid-19 results after wife tests positive | World news
… and welcome to another day of coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in the US, and of course the politics of it and of everything else.
The US now stands, according to Johns Hopkins University, at more than 4.1m cases confirmed and more than 145,000 people dead. The economy is still cratering and in Congress negotiations over the next stimulus and relief package are dragging on – with extra unemployment assistance due to run out in less than a week and evictions beginning to climb.
The president has resumed coronavirus briefings – without his senior public health experts and while hilarity swirls over his fixation on a simple cognitive test he says proves he is sharper than his election opponent.
Ongoing protests over racial injustice, meanwhile, are being met with a militarised response in Portland, Oregon, and federal agents are on their way to other cities at the behest of Donald Trump, seeking to portray himself as a president of law and order.
And in the middle of all this, local TV stations across the US owned by Sinclair Television will this weekend run an interview with a conspiracy theorist in which the question “DID DR FAUCI CREATE COVID-19?” will appear on the screen.
Anthony Fauci is the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He has served six presidents but this president has sought to keep him off TV, called him “alarmist” and generally undermined his work.
The conspiracy theorist is Judy Mikovits, who is behind the widely discredited Plandemic video. Her lawyer, Larry Klayman, also appears on the segment with the former Fox News host Eric Bolling, which is up online before broadcast this weekend.
Mikovits claimed that in the last decade Fauci “manufactured” and shipped coronaviruses to Wuhan, China, which is widely accepted to have been the origin of the coronavirus outbreak.
Bolling told CNN he did not “know of any video [Mikovits] was in prior to or after appearing on my show” and said: “Frankly, I was shocked when she made the accusation.”
Bolling said he had questioned her claim about Fauci, which on air he called “hefty”, and had added Dr Nicole Saphier, a Fox News contributor, to the show in order to balance out the segment.
“I asked our producers to add Saphier to the show for the express purpose of debunking the conspiracy theory,” he told CNN. “I believe viewers see that I did not and do not endorse her theory.”
Sinclair is the biggest owner of local TV stations in the US. Its chairman has said that in 2016, he told Trump: “We are here to deliver your message.”
More to come. Here’s some sobering further reading from our Washington bureau chief, David Smith: