May 25, 2020

The World Health Organization is temporarily halting a study on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as potential COVID-19 treatments due to safety concerns.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the decision on Monday, after a study published in The Lancet medical journal suggested COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were more likely to die, CNN reports. The drugs were being reviewed as part of the WHO's Solidarity Trial — a coronavirus research effort involving more than 400 hospitals in 35 countries.

President Donald Trump last week revealed he takes hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure against COVID-19, despite there being no evidence of its effectiveness and the FDA cautioning against the drug due to serious side effects including abnormal heart rhythms. Meanwhile Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is touting the other drug halted in the study, chloroquine.

The Data Safety Monitoring Board will review data about the drugs to assess whether they should continue to be used in the trial, though other arms of the trial will carry on, per CNN.

Tedros noted the halt concerns hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as they pertain to COVID-19. "I wish to reiterate that these drugs are accepted as generally safe for use in patients with autoimmune diseases or malaria," he said. Taylor Watson

12:14 p.m.

Just a few weeks after it reopened, Hong Kong Disneyland is closing again.

The park is set to "temporarily close" on July 15 "as required by the government and health authorities in line with prevention efforts taking place across Hong Kong," Disney announced on Monday, per CNN. It had reopened on June 18.

Hong Kong has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, on Monday reporting 52 new infections, 41 of which were locally transmitted, Reuters reports. Previously, "from June 13 to July 5 there were no locally transmitted cases in Hong Kong," according to NPR. Schools in Hong Kong closed as a result of the recent uptick, and on Monday, authorities reduced the maximum gathering size to four people from 50, Variety reports. Movie theaters will also need to close again in Hong Kong starting this week.

This comes after over the weekend, Disney began to reopen its Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. Florida has been experiencing record numbers of COVID-19 cases and on Sunday reported more than 15,000 new infections, the most of any state during the pandemic. Brendan Morrow

11:19 a.m.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney says he knows it's not "popular to talk about in some Republican circles," but he highlighted the United States' coronavirus testing issues anyway in an op-ed published Monday by CNBC.

In Mulvaney's view, the current economic crisis is public-health driven. For example, he argues the reason people aren't going on vacation is because they're afraid of getting sick, more so than their financial situation. Therefore, he doesn't think Congress' next stimulus package should focus on "ordinary fiscal tools," like sending citizens a check, since that alone won't reinvigorate the economy. "Make people feel safe to go back on an airplane or cruise ship, and they will of their own accord," he wrote.

One of the ways he thinks lawmakers can do this is by focusing on funneling aid to improve testing, which Mulvaney says is still a problem, and he has firsthand experience to prove it. His son, he wrote, was recently tested, but had to wait five to seven days for results, while his daughter tried to get a test before visiting her grandparents only to be told she didn't qualify. "That is simply inexcusable at this point in the pandemic," Mulvaney said. Read the full op-ed at CNBC. Tim O'Donnell

11:13 a.m.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows isn't having the best time right now.

Since Meadows replaced Mick Mulvaney as President Trump's right-hand man at the end of March, the national crises he's had to oversee have been nonstop. Meadows has reportedly admitted the job is already taking a toll on him, and has since told staffers he'll only stay another year at most if Trump is re-elected this fall, Politico reports.

Before he joined the West Wing, Meadows, formerly a member of Congress from North Carolina, was known for "maintaining friendships with Democrats ... even as he torpedoed their plans" — part of the reason he was hired and is still on Trump's good side, Politico writes. But from Trump's botched Bible photo op to a "complete mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis," Meadows' tenure has since coincided with "one of the worst stretches of the Trump presidency," Chris Wipple, the author of a book on White House chiefs of staff, tells Politico.

"It is mission impossible being Trump’s chief of staff," Wipple went on to acknowledge. Yet that hasn't stopped several administration officials from saying they're "underwhelmed" with Meadows' work, Politico writes. Meadows led the conservative House Freedom Caucus but hasn't gotten Trump to adhere to those values, and his watch has coincided with a wave of low morale that has driven several staffers out the door, some conservatives say.

Despite all his struggles, Meadows "does not regret taking the job because he enjoys the perks of working in the White House," namely flying on Air Force One, Politico writes.

Meadows did not respond to a request for comment from Politico. Read more at Politico. The Week Staff

10:44 a.m.

China is officially banning four U.S. officials following recent sanctions announced by the Trump administration.

China has announced it will ban entry to Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), as well as Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, The Associated Press reports. The four officials have called out China for its human rights abuses in Xinjiang, The Washington Post notes.

This comes after the U.S. sanctioned several Chinese officials over China's human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other minorities; three Chinese officials were banned from visiting the U.S., according to the Post. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday that "Xinjiang affairs are China's internal affairs and the U.S. has no right to interfere in them," adding that "we urge the United States to immediately withdraw its wrong decision."

There "was no indication any of the four" U.S. officials actually "planned to travel to China," Axios observes. On Monday, Rubio reacted to the news by tweeting, "The Communist Party of #China has banned me from entering the country. I guess they don't like me?" Cruz, meanwhile, tweeted sarcastically, "Bummer. I was going to take my family to Beijing for summer vacation, right after visiting Tehran." Brendan Morrow

10:25 a.m.

The Washington Redskins have officially announced the retirement of the team's 87-year-old name. Owner Dan Synder and head coach Ron Rivera say they are now working to come up with a new name and logo, and, of course, everyone has suggestions.

Some possible ideas include the Warriors — although it's possible the team will want to avoid overlap with the NBA's Golden State franchise — and the Red Tails, which would honor the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of Black military pilots who fought in World War II. The latter seems to be a popular choice, but another name that's gaining support is the Red Wolves, which doesn't have any significance other than sounding cool. NBA superstar Kevin Durant, who hails from the D.C.-area, is apparently a fan of the name, as are former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson and Washington's current quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

Jon Jansen, a former offensive linemen for Washington, suggested the team be called the Hogs. That probably won't gain too many backers, but Jansen's logic is sound — back in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Washington was one of the league's premier franchises, the team was known for its legendary offensive line, a unit affectionately known as the Hogs.

Whatever they choose, Washington probably won't go with a D.C.-themed moniker, as some of the city's other professional teams, like MLB's Nationals, or the Capitals in the NHL, have. Traditionally, the Washington franchise, which for a long time was the only team located below the Mason-Dixon line, has considered itself a regional team. Tim O'Donnell

8:28 a.m.

President Trump appears to be accusing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of "lying" about COVID-19 to damage his re-election prospects.

Former Love Connection and Wheel of Fortune game show host Chuck Woolery in a tweet on Sunday baselessly accused the "CDC, media, Democrats, our doctors, not all but most," of "lying" about the pandemic while claiming this is "all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election." His tweet drew plenty of outrage, but not from Trump, who on Monday morning gave it his approval with a retweet.

"There's no public health strategy that exists that involves telling everyone not to believe anyone no matter what, including your own administration," NBC News' Benjy Sarlin wrote in response to Trump's retweet, while Politico's Kyle Cheney tweeted that it's "hard to underscore how dangerous" this is.

Trump backing the claim that his administration's CDC, and most doctors, are lying comes as the White House has recently sought to discredit Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with an anonymous White House official telling reporters that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things."

Fauci recently revealed that even as the U.S. continues to set new records for number of new coronavirus cases, he hasn't briefed Trump on COVID-19 in about two months. He also suggested that his reputation for "speaking the truth at all times and not sugar-coating things" may be "one of the reasons why I haven't been on television very much lately." Brendan Morrow

7:58 a.m.

At this point in the 2020 presidential campaign, you would rather be presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden than President Trump. Biden has a lead of 9 percentage points in the polling averages by RealClearPolitics and The Washington Post, and 9.4 points as measured by FiveThirtyEight. He leads Trump, "in some cases outside the margin of error, in recent polls in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin," the Post reports. Democratic congressional candidates are also crushing their GOP rivals in online donations, Politico reports, setting off alarm bells among Washington Republicans.

In fact, "Trump's management of this summer's crises has triggered what Democrats detect as a tectonic shift in the political landscape, with party leaders suddenly bullish about not only taking back the White House but also wresting control of the Senate, as well as expanding their House majority," the Post reports. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) predicted "there's a tsunami coming." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said "we're feeling very good" about taking back the Senate. Not everyone thinks this level of confidence is helpful.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Post that Democrats have "one advantage" over 2016: "People are vigilant, they are attuned, they are concerned." Trump and his allies will try to suppress Democratic votes, she warned. "I say: 'Own the ground. Don't give one grain of sand. Get everybody out.'" Longtime GOP strategist Mike Murphy, who opposes Trump, similarly said he would warn Democrats: "Caution! Elections are very dynamic!"

"Trump and his advisers insist that their campaign's internal data show the race as more competitive," the Post reports, "and that he can gain momentum in the weeks ahead with a disciplined message and a brutal, sustained assault on Biden's character, ideology, and mental acuity."

Things can absolutely change, but over the past month at least, "Biden’s lead over Trump has been both incredibly stable and unusually large," Geoffrey Skelley notes at FiveThirtyEight, and he "is verging on a landslide. That’s not a word we use lightly." Certainly, "the president is in a very, very deep hole, and I'm not quite sure how he gets out of it," said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. And "instead of just a slight drag, the president is tying anchors around the ankles of Republican candidates." Peter Weber

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