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Pence's alternative pandemic world

Vice President Mike Pence described a world in which he and President Trump led Americans' heroic effort to defeat the coronavirus during last night's vice presidential debate. The problem is, he described a world that doesn't exist.

Why it matters: The coronavirus is very much not in control in the U.S., and America's failed response begins with the individual actions of the president and the vice president themselves.


  • Instead of defending the administration's decisions and behaviors, Pence acted as if they never happened.

What Pence said: Trump's decision to shut down travel from China "bought us invaluable time to stand up the greatest national mobilization since World War II, and I believe it saved hundreds of thousands of American lives."

  • Reality check: The administration botched the initial response to the pandemic, producing a faulty diagnostic test and failing to stop the virus from taking hold across the U.S.
  • Despite the travel ban, the virus clearly found its way into the country.

Pence: "The reality is, when you look at the Biden plan, it reads an awful lot like what President Trump and I and our task force have been doing every step of the way."

Pence: "When you say what the American people have done over these last eight months hasn't worked, that's a great disservice to the sacrifices that the American people have made."

  • Reality check: The virus has brutalized vulnerable populations, including the elderly, the poor and people of color, who have been left largely unprotected by the federal government.

Pence, on the Rose Garden event that is suspected of becoming a super spreader event: "Many of the people who were at that event ... actually were tested for coronavirus, and it was an outdoor event."

  • Reality check: Most attendees were maskless and weren't maintaining distance between one another. And the number of infected attendees speaks for itself.

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

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Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

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U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began

The U.S. confirmed at least 83,010 coronavirus cases on Friday, the country's highest daily total since the pandemic started, according to data from COVID tracking project.

By the numbers: Friday's total surpassed the previous daily case record set on July 17 when 76,842 cases were recorded.

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Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months

President Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” NIAID director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC on Friday.

Why it matters: At the beginning of the pandemic, the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, met every day, but in the "last several weeks," members have held virtual meetings once a week, Fauci said, even as the number of new cases continues to surge in the country.

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Universal mask use could save 130,000 lives in U.S.

Nearly 130,000 fewer people will die of COVID-19 this winter if 95% of Americans wear face masks in public, according to research published Friday.

Why it matters: “Increasing mask use is one of the best strategies that we have right now to delay the imposition of social distancing mandates," Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington told the N.Y. Times.

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Israel and Sudan begin normalization process after call with Trump

Sudan and Israel announced today that they will “end the state of belligerence” between them and start the process of normalizing ties.

Driving the news: The announcement came after a phone call hosted by President Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and the head of Sudan's governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

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We're all guinea pigs for Tesla's latest self-driving tech

Tesla is beta-testing its latest self-driving technology with a small group of early adopters, a move that alarms experts and makes every road user — including other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists — unwitting subjects in its ongoing safety experiment.

Why it matters: Tesla hailed the limited rollout of its "full self-driving" beta software as a key milestone, but the warnings on the car's touchscreen underscore the risk in using its own customers — rather than trained safety drivers — to validate the technology.

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Trump removes Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list

President Trump signed Friday an order to remove Sudan from the State Department’s state sponsors of terrorism list, senior U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Trump’s signature paves the way for the U.S. and Sudan to move forward on a larger deal — which will also include a Sudanese announcement on normalizing its relations with Israel.

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