Florida sets new record for Covid-19 deaths for second day in a row
From CNN's Tina Burnside
The state of Florida reported 216 additional deaths on Wednesday, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health. That breaks the previous record of 186 deaths — which was recorded just yesterday.
Florida is reporting 9,446 new cases of Covid-19.
This brings the state's total cases to at least 451,423, according to the state department of health. The statewide resident death toll is now 6,333.
11:11 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020
CDC director admits "there's been mistakes" in US Covid-19 federal response
From CNN's Shelby Lin Erdman
During an ABC interview Tuesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted that there have been problems with the federal response to Covid-19.
"Yes, there's been mistakes," he said. "And, yes, we fail. We're in it doing the best we can and we're trying to make the best judgments we can."
The CDC director discussed his initial response to news of something mysterious happening in central China.
He said he got a phone call on New Year's Eve last year alerting him to an incident involving a respiratory condition in Wuhan and he told ABC he knew it was serious. He said he wrote the first situation report on the incident the very next day.
"We felt that this had potential to be a very serious situation that had national security implications," he said.
The CDC was ready to send in a team of scientists within a week, but the Chinese government refused to let them in, Redfield said, something he has said before and pointed to as a reason the US got a later start in identifying the dangerous virus and taking action.
He also said he's optimistic that the country can get the upper hand in the battle against the coronavirus.
"I wish now we would come together and recognize and see the possibility that we can beat this pandemic," he said.
Europe's Covid-19 threat: In that same interview, Redfield admitted for the first time that the US was slow in recognizing the coronavirus threat from Europe.
"The introduction from Europe happened before we realized what was happening," Redfield said. "By the time we realized (the) Europe threat and shut down travel to Europe, there was probably already two or three weeks of 60,000 people coming back every day from Europe," he added.
"That's where the large seeding came in the Unites States."
The US restricted travel from China on February 2 and from Europe on March 13, but by March 8, Covid-19 was already circulating among the community in New York City and, by March 15, community transmission of the virus was already widespread, a recent analysis from the CDC found.
By the time the Trump administration banned travelers from Europe, the virus was already spreading in New York City, according to the report. Testing was also limited at the start of the epidemic there, allowing people with undetected cases to spread the virus.
10:47 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020
North Carolina State Fair canceled due to Covid-19 concerns
From CNN's Tina Burnside
The North Carolina State Fair has been canceled this year due to coronavirus concerns, organizers for the fair announced on Facebook on Wednesday.
The 152nd state fair was originally scheduled to take place in October.
10:44 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020
Trump signals openness to short-term Covid-19 stimulus bill
From CNN's Betsy Klein
President Trump signaled he may be interested in a short-term bill as negotiations on Capitol Hill have largely stalled.
“As of now we’re very far apart,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters on the South Lawn. “The President and we have discussed a short-term extension for unemployment benefits.”
Trump said the negotiation team is working to extend the eviction moratorium.
“We want to work on the evictions, so people don’t get evicted. We work on the payments to the people. And the rest of it we’re so far apart, we don’t care. We really don’t care. We want to take care of the people. The Democrats aren’t taking care of the people. The payments aren’t enough,” Trump said.
Mnuchin said they are going to wait until Friday regarding the possibility of a short-term bill, and that Trump is focused on evictions and unemployment insurance.
“We want to take care of them now, the rest we can discuss later,” Trump added.
Trump defends FBI building money: Trump was asked about a $1.75 billion provision in the bill for a new FBI building. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans have voiced opposition to the measure.
Trump said that a new FBI building has been in the works “for many years,” and he thought it was “crazy” that they would consider moving it to the suburbs of Virginia or Maryland.
“I’m very good at real estate, so I said we’ll build a new FBI building, either a renovation of the existing or even better, we’ll get a new building. So we have that in the bill, it should stay,” Trump said.
Pressed by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on the fact that Republicans don’t want it in the bill, Trump said, “Then Republicans should go back to school and learn. We need a new building.”
AFL-CIO president warns of devastating consequences if $600 benefit expires
From CNN's Adrienne Vogt
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka decried the Republican stimulus bill proposal, as benefits for millions of Americans are set to expire Friday.
“When this expires, 35 million people are going to have $600 a week less to spend. Can you imagine the shock that is going to go through our economy?” Trumka said.
The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the US, representing about 12.5 million workers. Trumka said that he sees no evidence of unemployed Americans taking advantage of the $600 benefit to not find jobs instead.
“The Republican bill totally fails to recognize the magnitude of the crisis, and it directs money to people who don't need it and takes money away from people who do need it. That $600 a week is what's keeping the economy going right now,” Trumka said in an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto.
Trumka also said that Trump is pressuring workers to return to potentially unsafe conditions.
“What the Republicans do in this bill is they don't give a standard. That means essential workers are going to continue to get infected and continue to die. … It's the absolute wrong thing to do in a pandemic,” he said.
Trumka also alleged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of being absent during the pandemic, saying that there have been 6,000 complaints but only two violations since February.
9:57 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020
Best Buy will stay closed on Thanksgiving
From CNN‘s Jordan Valinsky
Best Buy is the latest major retailer to announce it will stay closed on Thanksgiving.
Instead, Best Buy will bolster its digital options and offer seasonal deals "earlier than ever," the company said late Tuesday.
What the GOP plan says about unemployment: The GOP proposal would cut enhanced federal unemployment benefits to $200, from the current level of $600, as states transition to implement a system designed to provide approximately 70% wage replacement for laid off workers.
What Democrats want: Democrats — who already passed their stimulus plan in the House — aren't budging on the $600 federal unemployment enhancement, nor the nearly $1 trillion for state and local funding.
What happens next: Contrary to where things currently sit, there are solutions here. People involved in the talks — most of whom are veterans of a half-dozen or more extremely high stakes deadline negotiations — acknowledge there are deal points here that can be reached. But they also make clear neither side is anywhere near moving towards those points at the moment. Today, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will return to the Capitol Wednesday to meet again with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
10:32 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020
Iraq reports new daily record with almost 3,000 coronavirus cases, health ministry says
From CNN'S Aqeel Najim in Baghdad
Iraq’s Ministry of Health reported at least 2,968 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. This is a new record in daily cases.
The total number of cases in Iraq now stands at 118,300.
The health ministry reported 68 Covid-19 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in Iraq to 4,603.
9:25 a.m. ET, July 29, 2020
Trump heads to Southern Covid-19 hotspot today
As the US nears 150,000 coronavirus deaths, President Trump is traveling to Texas today, one of the country's virus hotspots.
According to the President's schedule, Trump lands in Texas at 11:30 a.m. local time. He is participating in a roundtable with supporters and delivering remarks at a fundraising committee luncheon in Odessa, Texas.
Afterwards, Trump will motorcade to Midland, to participate in a tour of Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig and deliver remarks on energy.
Here is a look at where cases stand across the state, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Texas currently has the fourth-highest number of Covid-19 cases: