December 19, 2018

President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria isn't sitting well with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

The Republican senator, typically one of Trump's biggest supporters, tweeted Wednesday that withdrawing troops from Syria "would be a huge Obama-like mistake." Graham also objected to Trump's claim that ISIS has been defeated in the country, saying, "With all due respect, ISIS is not defeated in Syria, Iraq, and after just returning from visiting there -- certainly not Afghanistan."

Graham said that withdrawing from Syria will "put our allies, the Kurds at risk" and will "be viewed as a boost to ISIS desire to come back." Meanwhile, other members of the Republican party celebrated Trump's announcement, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tweeting, "I am happy to see a President who can declare victory and bring our troops out of a war. It's been a long time since that has happened." Brendan Morrow

9:39 a.m.

A day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo projected that 16,000 New Yorkers could die of the novel coronavirus by the time the outbreak has run its course, President Trump took to Twitter to tell the state to "stop complaining."

"New York has gotten far more than any other state, including hospitals and a hospital ship, but no matter what, always complaining," the president said in a tweet addressing criticisms from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "It wouldn't matter if you got ten times what was needed, it would never be good enough. Unlike other states, New York unfortunately got off to a late start. You should have pushed harder. Stop complaining and find out where all of these supplies are going."

New York is the center of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, with over 83,800 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths as of Thursday morning; the next highest death-toll, in New Jersey, is just 355 cases. Many leaders in New York have pleaded for relief for the city's overburden hospitals, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying Wednesday that the city needs 3.3 million N95 masks, 2.1 surgical masks, 100,0000 isolation gowns, and 400 ventilators by Sunday to keep up with the exploding demand.

Trump's tweets apparently came in response to a tweet from Schumer, in which the senator echoed local concerns: "President Trump needs to harness industry to quickly produce more medical supplies and equipment under the Defense Production Act NOW,” he'd tweeted. "He needs to appoint a czar like a military or logistics expert to lead the effort to make and get the supplies where they're needed." Jeva Lange

9:28 a.m.

The COVID-19 unemployment plunge is, yet again, like nothing we've ever seen before.

More than 6.6 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, adding to the record 3.3 million who filed the week before. That leaves at least 9.9 million people out of work, far higher than the 2008 Great Recession's peak of 7.7 million as new coronavirus cases continue to grow. And as The Atlantic's Derek Thompson pointed out with a graph from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, that means the labor market "is contracting at the rate of one Great Recession per 10 days."

Thursday's report far surpassed expectations of 3.1 million more unemployment claims being filed in the last week, and the coronavirus pandemic is still far from over. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:59 a.m.

Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, weekly unemployment claims just once again reached a shocking new high.

The Labor Department announced Thursday that more than 6.6 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week. This massive number easily surpasses the 3.3 million initial jobless claims announced last Thursday, which at the time was the largest number ever recorded, soaring past the previous record of 695,000 in October 1982. A week later, that startling figure has been roughly doubled. The data first started to be tracked in 1967.

Last week's report was already a massive surge from the 282,000 initial jobless claims that had been reported the previous week as businesses around the country were forced to close amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Between the two weeks, about 10 million Americans filed unemployment claims. The data released Thursday is for the week ending on March 28.

"The speed and magnitude of the labor market's decline is unprecedented," economist Constance Hunter told The Wall Street Journal ahead of the report. But many analysts had been expecting a number this week closer to 3 million. CNBC notes highest weekly jobless claims reported during the Great Recession was 665,000.

"It really is a jobs shock here," CNN's Christine Romans said Thursday. Brendan Morrow

8:02 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-quarantine once again after the country's health minister tested positive for coronavirus.

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife both tested positive for COVID-19 and have now self-isolated, the Health Ministry announced Thursday. Litzman "has had frequent contact with" Netanyahu, The Associated Press reports.

Netanyahu as a result will self-quarantine, with this coming after he already isolated himself when an aide tested positive for COVID-19. The prime minister had concluded his two days of isolation on Wednesday, but he will now go back into self-quarantine until next week, Reuters reports. Litzman and his wife reportedly feel well, and Netanyahu has tested negative for COVID-19 twice, according to CNN.

Additionally, other Israel officials like the head of Israel's spy agency Mossad have reportedly been told to self-quarantine, and the director of the Health Ministry and members of Litzman's staff will do so as well, per the AP. Israel has reported more than 6,000 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Brendan Morrow

7:58 a.m.

You may have missed it among any (poorly timed) April Fools' Day pranks, but Wednesday was Census Day, that time of year where your residence starts counting for the 2020 census. Full Frontal's Samantha Bee did not forget. On Wednesday's show, filmed in the woods, Bee said — no doubt accurately, in many cases — that you've probably received a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau already and dropped it "in your mail quarantine pile."

"If you open it, you'll find an ID code that, for the first time, lets you fill out the census online," Bee said. "It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes — and I do know that you have 10 minutes right now." Since the census is so "incredibly important to fill out," Bee said, she commissioned a song from rapper and filmmaker TT the Artist to explain why, with help from Full Frontal animators Daniel Spenser and Cassidy Routh.

The Census Bureau is legal compelled to finish collecting information about every American by Dec. 31, but it suspended field operations two weeks ago to assess the safest way forward amid the coronavirus pandemic. If people fill in their census forms online, fewer census takers will have to start knocking on doors starting in mid-April or May. As of the March 31, more than 38 percent of households had already answered the census questions. In case you didn't watch TT the Artist's song, the decennial census determines the number of U.S. House seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, plus the amount of money from the federal government. Peter Weber

6:59 a.m.

Chris Cuomo, the CNN host and younger brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), announced Tuesday that he tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. He still broadcast his CNN show from his basement, explaining that his greatest fear was spreading the disease to his wife and children. On Wednesday night's show, Cuomo said his wife and children have tested negative, and he described his "freaky" Tuesday night of fever, hallucinations, and rigors — shivers — so intense he chipped a tooth.

"This virus came at me — I've never seen anything like it," Cuomo said, explaining that he had a fever of up to 103-plus "that wouldn't quit. And it was like somebody was beating me like a piñata." He said he shivered so violently he chipped a tooth — "these are not cheap, okay?" — and after staying up all night, "I'm telling you, I was hallucinating. My dad was talking to me, I was seeing people from college, people I hadn't seen in forever. It was freaky what I lived through last night. And it may happen again tonight," or for the next eight to nine nights.

Cuomo urged everyone to do everything the can — primarily self-isolating — to protect themselves, their loved ones, and medical workers from suffering his fate or worse. Earlier, he and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta discussed what went wrong in the U.S. and the mistakes some states are still making, and Gupta suggested Cuomo might consider taking a sick day or two. Watch below. Peter Weber

6:04 a.m.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the trusted face of President Trump's COVID-19 response, has been assigned his own security detail amid a sharp uptick in unwanted attention, positive and negative, The Washington Post reported Wednesday evening. The Justice Department confirmed it approved a request for the U.S. Marshal's Service to deputize Health and Human Services Department security officials to guard Fauci.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar had requested a security detail for Fauci after growing concerned about online threats and right-wing conspiracy theories targeting the top U.S. infectious disease expert, the Post reports. "The concerns include threats as well as unwelcome communications from fervent admirers," thought "the exact nature of the threats against him was not clear." Fringe conservative sites have accused Fauci of trying to sabotage Trump's re-election by advising economically painful social-distancing measures to slow the spread of the deadly virus and hundreds of thousands of lives. Pro-Trump groups have glommed onto the baseless allegations.

Trump himself is said to respect Fauci, 79, and value their working relationship. Fauci declined to address questions Wednesday about whether he was assigned bodyguards, but Trump jumped in, telling reporters: "He doesn't need security. Everybody loves him." Peter Weber

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