Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 11, 2020

Harold Maass
Mike Pence at the White House


Pence will not quarantine after staffer infected

The White House said late Sunday that Vice President Mike Pence would not change his schedule or self-quarantine after his press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus, although officials said Pence, who has tested negative, would distance himself from others. Other people who had contact with Miller and one of President Trump's valets, who also tested positive, are continuing to report for duty at the White House, too, as Trump administration officials struggle to contain the outbreak. "It is scary to go to work," said Kevin Hassett, a top economic adviser to the president, on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday. The White House has stepped up containment measures, encouraging some people to work from home and others to wear masks.


Health experts to testify remotely to Senate committee

Public health experts testifying to the Senate Health Committee this week will appear remotely, committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Sunday. The witnesses will include Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, as well as Dr. Robert Redfield, who is head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Brett Giroir, an assistant health secretary. Fauci, Redfield, and Hahn are working remotely after exposure to someone infected with COVID-19. "After consulting with Dr. Fauci, and in an abundance of caution for our witnesses, senators, and the staff, all four administration witnesses will appear by video conference due to these unusual circumstances," said Alexander, who also is self-isolating after a member of his staff tested positive.


Georgia investigates threats against protesters of Arbery killing

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Sunday it was investigating an online threat against people protesting the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man fatally shot by two white men in February. Arbery was jogging through a neighborhood in southeast Georgia when Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, stopped in front of him in their pickup truck and confronted him. In a video of the killing, a shot is heard, then Arbery is seen struggling with Travis McMichael, who has a shotgun. Two more shots are fired and Arbery falls to the ground. Both of the McMichaels were charged with murder and aggravated assault this week, after the video surfaced. [The Associated Press]


White House starts talks on new stimulus round

The White House has launched discussions with lawmakers about a new round of stimulus spending to help businesses, states, and individuals get through the coronavirus crisis, Trump administration officials said Sunday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said they were having informal talks with congressional Republicans and Democrats about several possible elements of the legislation, including aid to states hit hard by COVID-19. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the next stimulus package could include food aid to struggling Americans, and broadband access to those without it. The House's Democratic majority could unveil its proposal as early as this week, but Mnuchin said the discussions could go on for several weeks. [Reuters]


Boris Johnson unveils plan to slowly reopen U.K. economy

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday unveiled his government's plan for gradually restarting the country's economy while keeping parts of a lockdown in place to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Johnson urged people to return to work if they can't do their jobs from home, a shift from the previous guideline calling for people to go to work only "if they must." Starting Wednesday, Britons will be able to resume limited activities such as sunbathing and exercising in local parks whenever they want, and driving to destinations on non-essential trips. The United Kingdom has been under a lockdown for six weeks, and has the second highest COVID-19 death toll after the United States. [CNN]


Hong Kong police arrest 10 as protests resume

Hong Kong police on Sunday arrested at least 10 people as anti-government protests resumed in defiance of social-distancing orders imposed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Officers also fired "pepper balls" in an effort to break up crowds that gathered at shopping malls after authorities denied permission for a Mother's Day march. The Chinese-ruled, semi-autonomous former British colony was engulfed in protests for months before the coronavirus crisis forced people off the streets. The Sunday incidents were widely seen as part of an effort by government opponents to revive the protest movement. The protests started last summer over a proposal to allow extraditions of criminal suspects to mainland China, but they gradually turned into a movement in favor of greater democracy in Hong Kong. [Bloomberg, The Associated Press]


Iranian friendly-fire incident kills 19 on ship

An Iranian naval vessel was hit by a missile fired in an apparent friendly-fire incident as the country's military conducted exercises in the Sea of Oman on Sunday. At least 19 people were killed, according to Iran's Navy. Another 15 people were injured, although few further details were immediately available. The missile boat Konarak was sunk by a missile mistakenly fired by the frigate Jamaran, The New York Times reported, citing four people with knowledge of the accident. It was the second deadly missile mistake by Iran's military in recent months. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a Ukrainian Airlines passenger jet in January, killing all 176 people on board on the night when the country's military fired ballistic missiles at a U.S. base in Iraq to retaliate for the killing of a high-ranking general. [The New York Times]


South Dakota Sioux tribe to keep coronavirus checkpoints

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota set up checkpoints to monitor and track the coronavirus, and Chairman Harold Frazier told CNN on Sunday that the tribe must keep them up as they are the "best tool we have right now" to prevent the spread of COVID-19. "We want to ensure that people coming from hot spots or highly infected areas, we ask them to go around our land," Frazier said. The nearest critical care facility is three hours away, Frazier said, and the checkpoints are necessary due to "the lack of resources we have medically." Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has said the checkpoints need to come down, and her policy director sent a letter to the tribe on Friday saying they are illegal and "interfere with regulating traffic on U.S. and state highways." [CNN]


Jerry Stiller, comedian and Seinfeld actor, dies at 92

Jerry Stiller, the veteran comedian whose career had a second act when he was hired to play Frank Costanza on Seinfeld in 1993, has died "from natural causes" at age 92, his son, actor Ben Stiller, announced early Monday. Stiller and his wife, Anne Meara, gained fame as a comedy duo in the 1950s, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show 36 times, touring the night club circuit, and appearing in movies, TV shows, and stage productions together. Meara died in 2015. When he was hired to play George Costanza's (Jason Alexander) father on Seinfeld, Stiller was 70 and at a professional dead end. He punched up what was originally conceived as a bland role, earned an Emmy in 1997, then went on to play a similarly curmudgeonly father on King of Queens. [The Associated Press, Ben Stiller]


German soccer team's return to play delayed as 2 players infected

Two soccer players on the Dynamo Dresden team tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the cancelation of the team's scheduled return to play at Hannover on May 17. The team resumed practice last Thursday after German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the country's professional soccer leagues, the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, approval to resume play as Germany's new coronavirus infections fell. But the positive tests for the two players, who were not publicly identified and did not show virus symptoms, forced the entire team, including coaches and support staff, to quarantine at home for 14 days. The Bundesliga is scheduled to be the world's first major soccer league to restart play after a two-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Data released over the weekend showed Germany's infection rate rising again. [CNN, BBC]