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“Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st. Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities,” the letter said.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates also sounded the alarm Thursday during a CNN coronavirus town hall.

“Infection rates in the US are deeply troubling because the summer, when it’s warmer, when people are outdoors more, actually it’s easier to reduce the infection than it’s going to be out in the fall,” said Gates, who is helping fund the development of coronavirus vaccine efforts through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “So we’re in a very tough situation.”

How states are handling major outbreaks

Cases are starting to plateau in the four states that have seen large increases, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, said Friday.

“We’re already starting to see some plateauing in these critical four states that have suffered under the last four weeks — so Texas, California, Arizona and Florida, those major metros and throughout their counties.” Birx said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Birx compared what’s been going on in these states to the outbreak in New York in the spring, adding “it’s very serious and it’s very real.”

A judge in Starr County, Texas, issued a shelter-at-home order until August 11. It went into effect Friday morning.

The order also encourages non-essential businesses to stop all activities that may not be provided by curbside, drive-through or take-out services.

Starr County, along the US-Mexico border, includes Rio Grande City.

States across the country are struggling with local outbreaks.

New Mexico, Hawaii and Missouri all reported records for new daily cases Thursday.

For the fourth straight day, Los Angeles County reported more than 2,000 additional confirmed cases, Health Officer Muntu Davis announced in a news briefing.

And officials in Alaska have begun isolating, monitoring and caring for 96 employees of a seafood processing plant in Seward, according to a news release from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. CNN has reached out to the company, OBI Seafoods, for comment.

Citing an increasing rate of transmission, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced the state is tightening restrictions on restaurants, bars, fitness centers, movie theaters, weddings and funerals.

“If we let the virus get even more control, it will have an even more devastating impact over the long term in our economy, and certainly in our health, and the very lives of our loved ones,” he said at a news conference.

Where the new school year stands

The resurgence in cases, and likely ongoing presence of the virus, has ignited debate about how to proceed with the new school year.

New CDC guidelines come down hard in favor of opening schools

Vice President Mike Pence is in Indianapolis on Friday. He’s expected to participate in a roundtable discussion about reopening schools, according to his official schedule.

Indiana has reported almost 60,000 cases and at least 2,880 deaths.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday that the state will delay in-person learning through at least Labor Day as cases break records in the state.

By contrast, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said his state will introduce a plan to reopen schools Tuesday.

“Our kids need to be in school because kids not only academically are suffering, emotionally, mental health. … There are a number of working families who need for their children to be in school so they can continue to work. There’s a lot of reasons why schools can be and should be open. So long as we do that in a way that protects teachers and protects students at the same time we believe we can do,” Lee said.

New guidance from the CDC is strongly in favor of sending students back to the classroom, saying that available evidence shows that coronavirus does not possess as great a risk to children. With the services and instruction offered in school, the CDC guidance said virtual learning can be a disadvantage to American students.

“It can lead to severe learning loss, and the need for in-person instruction is particularly important for students with heightened behavioral needs,” the CDC statement said.

Learning more on risks to mothers and infants

Researchers are still learning how the virus impacts certain groups, with results sometimes changing earlier guidance.

A 26-day-old baby tests positive for Covid-19 following autopsy in Pennsylvania

New guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics released Wednesday said that mothers infected with the virus can safely stay in the same room as their newborns if safety measures are taken.

“What we now know is the risk of the newborn becoming infected around the time of birth is low when safety precautions are taken to protect the baby,” said lead author of the guidance Dr. Karen Puopolo in a statement. “In fact, the risk in the short-term appears to be no greater if mother and infant room-in together using infection control measures compared to physical separation of the infant in a room separate from the mother.”

A study published Thursday in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health supported that guidance.

Researchers reported no cases of viral transmission among 120 babies born to 116 Covid-positive mothers, even when both shared a room and the mothers breastfed.

CNN’s Marisa Peryer, Jennifer Henderson, Jacqueline Howard, Eileen McMenamin, Shelby Lin Erdman and Janine Mack contributed to this report.

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Paul Rusesabagina of ‘Hotel Rwanda’ appears in court again seeking bail after arrest on terrorism charges

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He appeared before the Nyarugenge intermediate court Friday in the capital, Kigali, where a judge ruled that a decision will be made on his bail application October 2.

Rusesabagina, 66, was appealing against last week’s ruling to remand him for 30 days.

His lawyers, Emelin Nyembo and David Rugaza, told the court that Rusesabagina should not be tried for crimes committed by the MRCD party, a coalition of opposition parties. The group’s military wing, FLN, is accused of several attacks on Rwandan territory in 2018.

Rusesabagina faces 13 charges related to terrorism, and is accused of being the “founder, leader and sponsor of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits,” Rwandan authorities have said.

He admitted to the court that he was a member of the MRCD and that general decisions were taken under the leadership of all parties, with each party having different functions.

He said, “MRCD was a coalition of four opposition political parties, my own party PDR-Ihumure was in charge of diplomatic mission, CNRD party was in charge of military operations hence forming military wing (National Liberation Front-FLN), others had other responsibilities.”

“The FLN was an armed group with specific role, mine was different. I was in charge of diplomacy,” he added.

At a hearing on September 17, the judge said the court had analyzed all 13 charges against Rusesabagina and concluded that there were compelling reasons to remand him for 30 days.

His lawyers questioned the jurisdiction of the court to try their client, saying he is a citizen of Belgium, with residence in the United States.

It is a sentiment echoed by his family. His daughter Carine Kanimba told CNN that he has no right to be put on trial as a Rwandan, as a Belgian citizen.

“We do not accept this whole attempt at pretending that this is a fair trial. We are begging the international community to help us. We are worried that they will kill him and they have already silenced him. The pictures we saw of him in court told us that he is frail and weak,” she said.

Kanimba said that a Belgian diplomat was able to visit her father, but that Rwandan officials were present.

There are also questions about how Rusesabagina came to be in Rwanda. His family believes he was kidnapped from Dubai in late August. In a video interview with the New York Times on September 15, Rusesabagina said he was supposed to go on a private plane to Burundi to speak to churches on August 28, but when he woke up, he was in Rwanda surrounded by soldiers.

Longstanding Kagame critic

Rusesabagina gained prominence for saving hundreds of Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed. His story was made into the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda,” starring Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo.
Rusesabagina and his supporters have long maintained that he became a target of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s government after sustained criticism of the government and the conduct of the Rwandan Patriotic Front in ending the genocide in 1994.

Around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the genocide, which was led by Hutu extremists.

He is the recipient of several human rights awards for his efforts during the genocide, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 and the Human Rights Prize by the Lantos Foundation in 2011, among others.

Rusesabagina also holds Belgian citizenship, according to a government source in Belgium.

Crackdown on opposition

Rusesabagina has not lived in Rwanda since 1996, when he survived an assassination attempt.

While widely praised for transforming Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide, Kagame has also faced widespread criticism for human rights abuses and a crackdown on opposition.

Rwanda accuses a pastor's daughter of treason and espionage. Her family says the charges are fabricated

Opposition politicians in Rwanda have often found themselves jailed on what they say are trumped-up charges for standing against Kagame in polls.

In one of the more widely publicized cases, Diane Rwigara and her mother were jailed when the former attempted to run for president in the same election as Kagame in 2017.

Diane Rwigara was acquitted of all charges including insurrection and forging of documents in 2018.

Victoire Ingabire, the leader of the FDU-Inkingi party, was jailed in 2010 for charges that included collaborating with a terrorist organization, “divisionism,” “minimizing the genocide” and “genocide ideology.”

She had returned to the country from the Netherlands to contest in the 2010 presidential elections after years of living abroad but was barred from running, and served eight years of a 15-year prison sentence before receiving a presidential pardon in 2018.

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House GOP super PAC seeks to shore up additional Republican seats

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“CLF is doubling down and pressing even deeper into our top offensive opportunities, reinforcing our swing-seat incumbents and providing a small insurance policy in a few seats to ensure a win this November,” CLF President Dan Conston said in a statement.

Notable new reservations include $865,000 to boost Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska); $500,000 to help Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), $500,000 for Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), $750,000 for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), $740,000 for Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and $750,000 for an open seat in central Virginia where Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) lost renomination in a district convention.

CLF also reserved $850,000 in Meadows’ former district, where the Republican nominee is 25-year-old businessman Madison Cawthorn. Court-ordered redistricting last year made the seat more favorable to Democrats by uniting the liberal enclave of Asheville, but President Donald Trump still carried it by 17 points.

Reps. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) are each getting over a million in new ad reservations against them from the group — a sign that Republicans are still pushing to pick off incumbents. The group is also making large six-figure buys against Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.), Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) and Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.). And earlier this week it laid down a new offensive target with a $2 million ad buy against Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.).

The vast majority of CLF’s total spending for the cycle is on offensive targets, and Republicans feel confident they will make gains in November, particularly if Trump tightens the presidential race. Democrats are defending 30 districts that the president carried in 2016.

But most of the districts in this new wave of reservations are Republican-held. CLF is increasing its buys to help Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.) — and in open seats on Long Island and in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Houston and Dallas.

Democrats, meanwhile, are scaling back their defensive buys and shifting resources away from once-vulnerable incumbents. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week scrapped four TV flights set to run from early-to-mid October in districts held by Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) — a show of confidence in their reelection prospects. All four hold seats won by Trump in 2016.

Republicans are hampered by the cash advantage of Democratic candidates and by their large number of open seats. Members like Hill and Young were outraised by their opponents last quarter — and Young trails in cash on hand. And retirements by longtime incumbents in Indiana, New York and Texas deprived the GOP of the war chests they amassed over the years.

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Matt Hancock Must Guarantee MPs A Vote On New Coronavirus Restrictions Or The Government Will Be Defeated, Says Rebel Ringleader Graham Brady

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The leader of a growing band of Tory rebels, Sir Graham Brady, says Matt Hancock must offer “explicit guarantees” MPs will get to vote on new coronavirus restrictions before they come into force or the government faces defeat on its flagship pandemic legislation.

Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson to cave to the demands of his backbenchers after dozens of Conservatives signed an amendment put forward by Sir Graham, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee.

He told PoliticsHome it is “a fundamental matter of principle that the House ought to be consulted” before new lockdown measures are put in place.

It comes amid growing anger from MPs the Commons has been ignored by ministers as they have repeatedly changed the rules, affecting the lives of their constituents.

Sir Graham said he was spurred to act after his own constituency of Altrincham and Sale West was put into and then taken out of extra local restrictions, only to be put back under the measures hours later.

“It’s been a frustration for a long time, I was wary even back in March when we gave the emergency powers very rapidly. And I accepted it on the basis the House was about to go into recess and there was plausible concern NHS critical care capacity would be overwhelmed.

“But then when we found that every review of the lockdown, the government simply continued, and that when Parliament returned on 21 April we still didn’t have decisions put to the House of Commons.

“I thought that was wrong.”

He added: “But I guess it came to a head really with the experience of the additional local restrictions that were put in for Trafford and Greater Manchester at the end of July.

“And then the experience of the government removing Trafford from the extra restrictions at the end of August – and then 12 hours putting us back in again.

“And in none of this was the House of Commons, or me as a local MP, able to express a view.”

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With the six-month renewal of the coronavirus powers due for a vote on Wednesday, he has written an amendment which could bind the government into more votes. It has more than 50 signatories, including 42 Tories as of Friday afternoon – enough to defeat the government if selected, but there is some debate as to whether it will be allowed.

Such a motion would not normally be amendable; it would simply be the case that MPs either back it or not, with the final decision to be taken by the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on the morning of the debate.

On whether it would be selected for debate, Mr Brady said: “Some people have suggested it is ‘disorderly’ in itself. It was drafted by a very senior clerk, who when I raised that with him gave me a very clear explanation why he is right.

“So I’m confident that it is selectable, but it is still – as with any amendment – a decision for the Speaker.”

He confirmed he had been to see Sir Lindsay, who he said suggested it was “more likely to be selected” if it had support from across the House, which is why he was pleased to have chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, John Cryer, put his name to it along with party grandees Harriet Harman and John Spellar.

A spokesperson for the Speaker would only confirm the motion is “technically amendable”.

They added: “The Speaker will take advice from the clerks about whether the amendment is in scope before deciding whether to select it.”

There is also debate over whether any amendment, if passed, would have any binding effect on the government, given it is not a vote on the legislation itself.

Sir Graham said: “It wouldn’t have statutory force because the motion itself isn’t statute, so what it would be is a resolution of the House instructing ministers to do something – and that has constitutional force.”

And Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, told PoliticsHome: “This isn’t supposed to be an epic rebellion but an indication that people want to have wider consultation.

“I think what this is a very clear sign of, and I think the government recognises this, is the whole country needs to be involved in decision making and the decisions that we are taking and for us to  have consent we need to consult widely and part of that consultation is with the people sent to Parliament to represent their communities.”

Mr Spellar said: “What we are trying to do is say to government you can’t just go rampaging around making decisions based on a very small group of advisers. 

“If you say you’ve gone from the science, there’s a significant division in the scientific world.”

It is a view echoed by Sir Graham: “I’m quite sceptical about a number of these measures, I think they are grossly intrusive into people’s civil liberties, the right to family life, but I suspect that there is a fairly strong majority of the House that would support the government in most of what it’s doing.

“So I don’t think by securing these votes we’re suddenly going to see the government losing them all and these powers being stripped away.

“I think it’s just a fundamental matter of principle that the House ought to be consulted, that if people’s liberties are being removed it should be done with the consent of parliament on their behalf.

“And also that ministerial decision-making will be improved if they know they’ve got to justify themselves in the House of Commons and the House will express its views in a vote.”

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Mr Johnson is likely to want to avoid another confrontation with his own backbenchers after already having to change tack on the Internal Markets Bill, with talks set to take place with Mr Brady and other rebels on Monday.

One MP suggested more names could go down on the amendment over the weekend ,with another signatory telling PoliticsHome it would be “dumb” if the government did not reflect on the number of disaffected Tories and try to come up with a compromise, or table their own amendment.

On whether he would pull the amendment, Sir Graham said it would need Matt Hancock to say from the despatch box that MPs will get votes on new restrictions before they are enacted, a point he said he had already pressed upon Number 10.

“If there were sufficient explicit guarantees given on the floor of the House then I may not press it to a vote,” he said.

“But I think it’s really important to have the opportunity to press it to a vote to make sure the health secretary gives those explicit guarantees.”

He said the time lag between announcements being made and the restrictions coming into force was the perfect time to hold a debate, pointing to the ‘rule of six’ policy.

“That was leaked to the press on Tuesday, the PM made a statement about it on Wednesday, it wasn’t going to come into force until the following Monday – but the Thursday was just general debates in the House of Commons,” he explained.

“It would have been entirely possible to change the schedule, put in a full day’s debate on the ‘rule of six’ with a vote at the end of it, and the government simply chose not to.”

Pressed on whether his amendment was in response to ministers not listening to backbench concerns, he said: “I put the point to Matt Hancock in the chamber as to why these powers had not been put to the House on the Wednesday, and he said ‘I’m talking to the business managers about how this can happen’, but it still hasn’t happened two weeks later, there still hasn’t been a debate or a vote on what was introduced then.”

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The PM’s spokesman has repeatedly said there would be a vote on the renewal of the Coronavirus Act 2020, and that MPs also have the chance to vote on individual regulations.

But there has been criticism of that system, which is known as an ‘affirmative statutory instrument’, which allows the Commons a vote within 28 days of the legislation coming into force.

Some MPs have said they want new powers to be created as ‘draft affirmative statutory instruments’, where the vote takes place before they start to take affect.

But the government have said with a backlog of legislation from the summer, along with the fact the process can pass through the Commons quickly, but takes weeks to get though the House of Lords, they have argued it was not possible.

One potential solution may be to give MPs the guarantee that an ‘affirmative’ SI will be debated within seven days, rather than it taking the full month, but the government have stuck to the line that “the current position does provide for parliamentary scrutiny”.

 Disclosure: Sir Graham Brady is editor of the House magazine, which is part of the Dods Group.

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