By LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Though the White House has not held an official coronavirus task force briefing all week, President Donald Trump has taken the opportunity at other scheduled appearances to take questions and applaud his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as a “spectacular job.”
At the tail-end of a response to a question Thursday about the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner declaring the government’s response to COVID-19 a “success story,” Trump touted the U.S. death total, which has climbed past 60,000, as “very strong.”
“Our death totals, our numbers per million people, are really very, very strong. We are very proud of the job we have done,” he said in the East Room event on “protecting America’s seniors.”
Trump’s push to reopen comes as the country’s economy sees its largest decline since the Great Recession, unemployment claims break records and as a November presidential election approaches.
Here are Friday’s most significant developments in Washington:
Dept. of Housing and Urban Development allocates second wave of relief funds for public housing residents
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Friday announced the allocation of $685 million from the CARES Act to go to “low-income Americans residing in public housing” as part of COVID-19 relief efforts.
The funds will be allocated through the Public Housing Operating Fund, according to HUD, and Public Housing Authorities may use them for: “Childcare costs for residents so that they can continue to work, and childcare costs for staff performing essential functions,” “costs of protecting residents (particularly high-risk residents) from exposure from interaction with PHA (Public Housing Authority) staff and vice versa,” and “expenses to safely transport residents/staff in need of medical attention,” among other options.
“HUD has worked hard to ensure that these funds will reach Public Housing Authorities quickly and efficiently, so they are well equipped to protect their residents and staff as we all work together as a Nation to combat this invisible enemy,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson in a statement.
The department’s first wave of funding of over $3 billion was allocated on April 2 “to assist communities and non-profits, help protect the homeless and Americans with compromised immune systems, and assist Tribal communities in their COVID-19 response efforts.”
Trump tweets support for Michigan protesters, suggests Whitmer ‘make a deal’
President Donald Trump is tweeting support once again for protesters in Michigan after Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the state’s stay-at-home order and protesters, some who were armed, spilled into the state Capitol Thursday. The president suggested the governor “give a little” and “make a deal.”
He had previously tweeted to “LIBERATE” protesters in Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia — 2020 election battleground states with Democratic governors — appearing to try to take advantage of public restlessness amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump set to travel to Camp David
With the White House social distancing guidelines officially expired, President Donald Trump is traveling to his vacation home of Camp David for the weekend following his Friday afternoon remarks on “Presidential Recognition Ceremony: Hard Work, Heroism, and Hope.”
It’ll be the first time Trump has left the White House since March 28, when he went on a day trip to Norfolk, Virginia, to send off the USNS Comfort.
He briefly visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., on March 19.
Before that, he was in Florida the first weekend of March, and prior to that Florida trip, he maintained a regular travel schedule of rallies and other events, such as a rally in Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 28.
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