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Wednesday AP Wire

Trump defends disproved COVID-19 treatment; US officials: Russia behind spread of virus disinformation

 President Donald Trump has once again touted the disproved use of a malaria drug as a treatment for the coronavirus, hours after social media companies moved to take down videos promoting its use as potentially harmful misinformation, report Darlene Superville and Amanda Seitz. 

 

The president’s tone shifted markedly from the more measured and heavily scripted approach he’s displayed about the virus in recent days as he promoted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. Scientific studies have shown the drug can do more harm than good when used to treat symptoms of the virus.

 

Trump also continued amplified criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

 

Russian Disinformation: The U.S. government has identified two suspected Russian military intelligence GRU operatives who it believes are helping direct the spread of disinformation through websites that have published extensively on the pandemic, American politics and international affairs. That’s according to U.S. government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP.

 

Officials said they were sounding the alarm about particular websites and to expose what they say is a clear link between the sites and Russian intelligence. Between late May and early July, the websites singled out by the officials published about 150 articles about the virus response, including coverage aimed either at propping up Russia or denigrating the U.S., Eric Tucker reports.

 

America Roundup:

 

  • States like Mississippi and South Carolina are looking for ways to add hospital beds.
  • Yet even as COVID-19 cases have spiked, governors in some of the hardest-hit areas have resisted calls to require masks.
  • The virus has been spreading north of the Sunbelt, creating alarm among public health officials who fear states are not doing enough. The surge in the Midwest has been fueled largely by a rise in cases among young adults, who have been hitting bars, restaurants and health clubs again.
  • And the baseball season has descended deeper into crisis with some games suspended and others forging ahead with trepidation. 

 

Congress Jobless Aid: State officials across the U.S. say Senate Republicans’ proposed slashing of a federally funded boost in unemployment benefits could delay payments for weeks or even months. Democrats are pushing back, arguing that cutting the extra payments to $200 from $600 is bad policy — and that it’s hard to implement, Geoff Mulvhill reports. 

 

Federal Reserve: Officials are grappling this week with the timing and scope of their next policy moves at a time when the raging pandemic has weakened the U.S. economy. No major changes are likely when the Fed releases a statement today after its two-day policy meeting ends, Christopher Rugaber reports.

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