5 Things That Happened Before the Day Was Over: July 31, 2020

An early start to the weekend because sometimes you just need a mental break.

I’ve taken the liberty of changing the title of this post because it’s hardly the end of the week…and who knows, there might yet be some 5 o’clock news dump that occurs to ruin the Friday of reporters everywhere, though I hope not, for all my former media colleagues still toiling away and fighting the good fight.

Anyway, several things that have occurred between “Rise and Shine” and now that are worth noting…

1) Some optimistic news from the country’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who expressed cautious optimism while testifying on Capitol Hill today that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready – likely by 2021 – and will be widely available.

Federal health authorities are working hard on a plan called “Operation Warp Speed” to manufacture 300 million doses of a vaccine on a compressed timeline. Fauci said a quarter-million people have expressed interest in taking part in studies of experimental vaccines.

Vaccine trials are, of course, critical to getting to a place where we know the vaccine is safe and ready to deploy. However, there is a very disturbing – and growing – trend among folks who are saying they will refuse to get said vaccine when it’s ready, which raises immunity questions and poses significant challenges.

This is of particular concern given the high number of young Americans who are saying they won’t get the vaccine, which could put colleges and universities in the position of requiring them to do so if they want to attend classes in person.

2) Team Trump has canceled a series of ad buys over the next few days as its newly revamped campaign officials reviews their messaging strategy.

At this point, with fewer than 100 days remaining until the Nov. 3 general election, the Trump campaign spent virtually nothing on TV or radio ads on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, according to data from Advertising Analytics. And it has effectively nothing booked through August.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign has spent $3.9 million over those same two days and has another almost $6 million booked through the end of next month.

This comes as Biden reportedly is reaching the end of his search for a running mate. The leading contenders are Rep. Karen Bass of California and Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser.

The main goal, apparently is for Biden to find someone with whom he feels comfortable and confident in their capability to advance his agenda while not providing too much in the way of a target for the Trump campaign.

3) Here’s some concerning news: The Hong Kong government announced it will postpone the city’s September legislative election by one year because of the pandemic – a decision seen by the pro-democracy opposition as a brazen attempt to thwart its electoral momentum and avoid the defeat of pro-Beijing candidates.

This is of interest in part because of Trump’s controversial suggestion this week that the U.S. should delay its general election due to the ongoing pandemic and worries – in his mind, anyway – about potential widespread fraud as a result of the heavy reliance on mail-in ballots in order to protect voters against contracting the coronavirus.

Of course, Hong Kong is not the U.S. And Trump has backtracked a bit in the face of widespread bipartisan opposition, including from the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican PAC that released a new ad condemning the mere suggestion of holding off on the election.

4) Gov. Andrew Cuomo has, as you may recall, rejected calls to increase taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers as a means to generate much-needed revenue for the state as it seeks to dig itself out of the fiscal hole created by the pandemic.

A new report finds that more than one-third of the state’s billionaires have contributed to Cuomo’s political campaigns and also to the coffers of the state Democratic Party, which he controls. And in a number of cases, they’ve used loopholes – like donating to “housekeeping” – in order to get around the legal contribution limits.

Cuomo’s office asserted that millions of dollars of campaign donations from billionaires had no bearing on the governor’s decision to oppose Democratic legislation to raise taxes on billionaires. Rich Azzopardi, the governor’s chief spokesman, called the mere suggestion both “stupid and insulting.”

5) Enjoy this amazing weather while you can, because we could be in for a nasty turn, compliments of Hurricane Isaias.

If Isaias continues along its current track, we will likely see the worst of it Monday into Tuesday of nest week, though by that time, it will probably have weakened to tropical storm status.

Photo credit: George Fazio.

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