- President Donald Trump invoked a Korean War-era law Wednesday morning, which will allow the private sector to ramp-up production and distribution of emergency supplies and equipment like masks, ventilators, and respirators.
- The move comes as multiple governors have said the federal government isn’t doing enough to help states.
- It also comes after Trump told governors on Monday to see if they can try to find medical supplies and equipment on their own, though he did say the federal government is “backing you.”
Trump Invokes War-Era Law
After repeated calls of inaction by multiple governors, President Donald Trump announced he is invoking the Defense Production Act, which will allow the private sector to ramp-up production and distribution of emergency supplies and equipment like masks, ventilators, and respirators.
The act, which Trump announced at a White House press briefing on Wednesday, was first invoked during the Korean War and has been re-invoked more than 50 times since.
Alongside that act, Trump announced several other measures Wednesday:
- Trump has activated FEMA at Level 1, which is its highest level.
- His administration has dispatched two military hospital ships, which are now headed to New York City and the West Coast (however, those ships will likely not be deployed for another two weeks).
- Housing and Urban Development has been told to suspend all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.
- Health and Human Services are suspending regulations that prevent medical professionals from practicing across state lines. It is also calling the nation to postpone all elective medical procedures.
Before the press conference this morning, Trump announced that he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have mutually agreed to close the U.S.-Canada border.
Notably, that will not affect trade, and the border will still be open for essential traffic.
This announcement comes after Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that he was closing the border, though at the time, the U.S. had been exempt.
Also on Wednesday, the Treasury Department laid out the details for a $1 trillion stimulus package Trump wants to Congress to pass. That would notably include relief checks for Americans that could be sent out as soon as April 6.
Trump Criticizes Michigan and New York Governors in Tweets
Trump’s invocation comes after a series of spats between him and several governors. Several of those arguments came after Trump met with U.S. governors via a conference call on Monday.
In that call, multiple governors reportedly asked for more federal support, but according to The New York Times, Trump then told them, “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”
Also according to The Times, New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham then told Trump in that call, “If one state doesn’t get the resources and materials they need, the entire nation continues to be at risk.”
Grisham reportedly went on to say that the federal government was impeding states’ abilities to respond to the virus, as well as creating a situation where states are competing against one another for the needed products.
After that conference call, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that the federal government had been “behind from day one of this crisis,” calling the administration’s response “inexcusable.”
On Tuesday morning, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer criticized Trump’s response in an interview with MSNBC.
“To hear the leader of the federal government tell us to work around the federal government cause it’s too slow is just, it’s kind of mind-boggling to be honest. We are pulling out all the stops here in Michigan,” she said. “But we need the federal government to work. We need respirators and ventilators and personal protection equipment. We need more test kits and the resources to process those test kits.”
Some governors have supported the president’s recommendation and even tried to clarify it. In fact, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Trump was telling them to “cut out the federal bureaucracy and potentially get it quicker. What he was saying was sensible.”
Trump’s War of Words With Governors
With criticism from those governor’s, however, Trump has unexpectedly fought back.
Monday afternoon, after Cuomo made his comments calling the response “inexcusable,” Trump then said on Twitter: “Cuomo of New York has to “do more”.
Following that, Cuomo responded, “I have to do more? No — YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.”
Tuesday morning, Trump then took another swing at Cuomo, telling the governor to “…keep politics out of it….”
The two seemingly reconciled later Tuesday and now they are trying to work together more amicably. Cuomo told reporters “put [his] hand out in partnership.”
“There’s no time for” hyper-partisan politicking right now,” Cuomo told reporters after saying he put his hand out in partnership. “The president is doing the right thing in offering to step up with New York, and I appreciate it.”
In turn, Trump then said, “…we had a really good talk this morning. We’re both doing a really good job.”
Trump, however, did not stop at Cuomo. Shortly after saying Cuomo needs to do more on Twitter, Trump called Whitmer a “Failing Michigan Governor.”
About an hour later, Whitmer responded with a list of actions she has put into place since the coronavirus outbreak in her state., including ensuring Medicaid waiver for copays and cost-sharing for testing, declaring a State of Emergency, closing all K-12 schools, restricting entry into care facilities and juvenile justice facilities, enhancing restrictions on price gouging, and expanding unemployment benefits.
“Ironically, he made my point that [the federal government is] not taking this as seriously as they need to,” Whitmer told The New York Times, also saying Trump had been “watching TV.”
Concerns That Trump Isn’t Taking the Coronavirus Seriously
Although Trump has called for unity and told people to keep partisan politics out of the coronavirus outbreak, it is unsurprising to see him and Democrats fighting on Twitter.
However, many politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns over how Trump has been treating this pandemic.
Many have pointed to Trump’s language regarding the outbreak. In January, he said, “We have it totally under control. It’s going to be just fine. ” In February, he said the virus would hopefully go away once the weather warms. On March 15, he said, This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.”
They’ve then compared that to Trump’s language on Tuesday, when he said, “I’ve always known this is a real— this is a pandemic … I’ve felt that it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
But the fact does remain that Trump has become increasingly serious about the outbreak in the U.S. In fact, because of that, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said, “His messaging sounds a lot more like the way I’ve been talking and some of my colleagues have been talking about it for weeks.”
Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge also commented on the difference in Trump’s tone, saying, “I’d want to take a clue from my governors. It seems that message has finally caught up with the White House.”
How Has Trump Acted More Seriously?
Trump announced Tuesday that he was making a commitment to a “whole of government” process.
“We are starting the process,” he said at a White House press briefing of working with New York. “The state is working on it very hard themselves, but we’ll probably supplement what they’re doing.”
That, of course, comes after the situation with ventilators, but also after the mayor of Seattle, which is one of the hardest-hit areas, asked for “mass tents” to rapidly build shelters. It also follows New York asking for days for the Army Corps of Engineers to quickly build hospitals.
Tuesday night, the Army Corps of Engineers finally said it will work with New York to find more hospital beds.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper also announced the Pentagon will give up to 5 million masks to protect health care workers and vulnerable people. Esper said the first million would be made available immediately.
And while it’s expected to fall way short of the number needed, the Pentagon has also made available 2,000 ventilators for hospitals.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said that he now expects the Department of Defense to help provide resources “that could help bolster new medical hospitals.”
Also, following that aforementioned conference call, New Mexico Governor Grisham said that Pence had pledged to work with her to increase New Mexico’s supply needs.
Catholic School Expels Students After Discovering Mother’s OnlyFans Account
- Crystal Jackson, a California mother of three, said her boys were expelled from their Catholic school after other parents notified administrators of her OnlyFans account.
- Jackson, who started the account to boost her confidence and rekindle her relationship with her husband, said she only posts pinup-style photos in lingerie, not pornography.
- Now, she’s speaking out against the intense harassment she’s faced from parents in her community and has criticized the school’s decision to punish her children.
- She also said the school is working to update its handbook to include a rule that “any parent who is involved in a site or blog that goes against teachings of the church and school philosophy must be removed.”
Mother’s OnlyFans Account Draws Criticism
A mother in Sacramento, California says her three boys were expelled from their Catholic school after administrators discovered her OnlyFans account.
That mother is Crystal Jackson, who joined the site in 2019 to spice up her struggling relationship with her husband of 14 years, Chris.
Jackson says she does not post pornography on her account. Instead, she posts pinup-style photos in lingerie and includes “sexy stories” that play up the image of what she and Chris call “the mom next door.”
The account started as a secret between the two of them, but it has since become a huge success, bringing in over $150,000 a month along with hundreds of thousands of social media followers.
While the new venture has also brought her a boost of joy and self-confidence, her growing popularity on the platform eventually caught the attention of parents at Sacred Heart Parish School.
According to several interviews Crystal has given to media outlets, parents were relentlessly urging that her sons be kicked out of school.
They began harassing her with texts and voicemails bullying her and insulting her family. At one point, she says a group of mothers even printed out her OnlyFans photos and sent them anonymously in a packet to the school principal.
Some also reported her to their local priest and bishop and created a Facebook group to gossip about her family.
School Expels Mother’s Three Sons
But the issue escalated Sunday when the school sent her a letter notifying her of its decision.
“Your apparent quest for high-profile controversy in support of your adult website is in direct conflict with what we hope to impart to our students and is directly opposed to the policies laid out in our Parent/Student Handbook,” it read.
“We therefore require that you find another school for your children and have no further association with ours.”
Now, she says the school is working to update their handbook to include a rule that says: “Any parent who is involved in a site or blog that goes against teachings of the church and school philosophy must be removed.”
Crystal has continued to speak out against the school’s decision, telling People Magazine that her 8, 10, and 12 years old are good kids who are only being hurt by the school’s actions.
“Take me down, that’s fine, but leave my kids out of this,” she said.
“I didn’t want to be put out there, but at some point, I have to stand up and say I can’t take it anymore because this behavior is horrible,” she added.
Crystal noted that she was hoping to put her kids back in Catholic school but says she and her husband will likely have to put them in public school.
“They won’t allow them in this diocese, and is this really the place for them to be?” she said. “It’s clear that they said we don’t want you.”
“In the year 2021, here we are, trying to bring a woman down for her choices and what she does with her husband,” Crystal added. “It’s body shaming and bullying all encompassed into one and it’s such a double standard and disturbing.”
For now, she’s just hoping the judgment and harassment in her community will stop. “I’m still the same Crystal I was, like, two years ago, a year ago, when we had coffee, before you knew this.“
Nearly 9 Million Are Without Water in Texas, Some Face Electric Bills up To $17,000
- More than 8.8 million people in Texas remained under boil water notices Monday, and over 120,000 had no water service at all.
- Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Sunday that the state has distributed around 3.5 million bottles of water, though many of the lines to receive that water were plagued with hours-long waits.
- Meanwhile, power outages in the state have fallen below 20,000, but many Texans are also beginning to receive astronomical electric bills of as much as $17,000.
- Both Abbott and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) said those prices are not the fault of customers. While some form of forgiveness is likely, no immediate plan has been outlined yet.
Millions Without Water
As of Monday morning, nearly 8.8 million people in Texas are still under boil water notices following last week’s snowstorm. That’s about one out of every three Texans.
Despite being a giant chunk of the state’s population, that figure is actually an improvement from 10 million people on Sunday.
Another 120,000 Texans are still without water service at all.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Sunday almost 3.5 million bottles of water have been distributed across Texas by helicopter, airplane, and truck.
The need for water has been extremely visible. An Austin City Council member shared a video on Twitter Sunday showing a massive line of vehicles waiting for clean water. Some waited for more than an hour before the distribution event began. At another site, she said cars began lining up more than five hours before the event.
Abbott said the state is bringing in more plumbers to increase repair efforts for damaged water systems. Additionally, Abbott said homeowners without insurance could qualify for emergency reimbursement from FEMA.
Meanwhile, one large-scale effort from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY.) has now raised more than $5 million since first being launched on Thursday. That money will go to several organizations, including the Houston Food Bank, Family Eldercare, Feeding Texas, and the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center.
Texas Electric Bills Soar as High as $17K
All but just under 20,000 Texas homes and businesses have now had their power restored as of Monday morning.
That’s a stark contrast from the more than 4 million that were out of power at one point last week.
While that’s largely good news, many Texans are now beginning to receive sky-high electric bills. That’s especially evident for those whose power stayed on during the storm. In fact, some people have now told multiple media outlets they’re facing bills as high as $17,000.
One 63-year-old Army vet, who was charged $16,752, told The New York Times that his bill was about 70 times higher than normal.
“My savings is gone,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.”
As far as why his and others’ eclectic bills are so high, many people in Texas have plans that are directly tied to the wholesale price of electricity. Usually, that helps keep their costs low, but as demand for power surged during last week’s snowstorm, those prices hit astronomical highs.
In a statement on Saturday, Abbott said Texas lawmakers “have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,”
He added that the state Legislature is working “on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”
In a similar tone, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) said in an interview with CBS on Sunday, “It’s not the consumers who should assume [these] costs. They are not at fault for what happened this week.”
That said, Turner also laid blame at the feet of the Legislature, calling the current crisis “foreseeable” on the part of lawmakers because a similar snowstorm and outages struck Texas in 2011.
Turner added that, at the time, he was part of the Texas legislature and had filed a bill that would have required the agency overseeing Texas’ grid to “ensure that there was an adequate reserve to prevent blackouts.”
“The leadership in Austin did not give it a hearing,” he said.
While no aid has been fully guaranteed yet, Texas has prevented electric companies from being able to shut off power for people who don’t pay their bills on time.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (The New York Times) (CNN)
Texans Still Face Broken Pipes, Flooding, and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning as Million Regain Power
- The number of Texans without power fell from 3.3 million on Wednesday to below 500,000 by Thursday.
- Still, millions are currently under a boil advisory, pipes have burst as they begin to thaw, and some individuals have died or been hospitalized because of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday that it has sent generators, water, and blankets to Texas, adding that it’s working to send additional diesel for generators.
- Gov. Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden have also reportedly discussed the possibility of extra funding for people’s electricity bills, as well as for burst pipes.
Power May Be Back but Problems Persist
Power outages in Texas Thursday morning fell to under 500,000 — down from 3.3 million Wednesday morning.
According to the state’s main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the remaining outages are largely weather-related and not connected to problems related to forced outages.
While that return of power to millions is significant, Texans are still facing a host of other problems.
For example, there have been numerous reports of carbon monoxide poisoning as people still without power try to keep warm in their cars or through other means. An adult and a child were found dead Tuesday after running their car inside of a garage, prompting Houston police to issue a statement warning that “cars, grills and generators should not be used in or near a building.”
Six children and four adults were rushed to the hospital Wednesday night for carbon monoxide poisoning after setting up grills inside their homes.
Even for those now with power, water has become a major issue. On Wednesday, 7 million Texans were placed on a boil advisory and about 263,000 were without functioning water providers.
One reporter tweeted out a video of people lining up at a park to fill up buckets of water.
“This is not a third world country,” she said. “This is Houston, Texas.”
The Food and Drug Administration and the National Weather Service have even cited melting and boiling snow as an emergency option if people can’t find water elsewhere, an option many have already turned to.
For some, all these problems only seemed to compound in the form of burst pipes. One viral video shows water gushing out of a third-story apartment. Others posted images of their broken pipes and the damage they have caused.
As a result, a number of local media outlets have begun to outline steps people can take once their pipes start to thaw or if they break.
Amid Problems, Aid is Being Distributed
Alongside the overwhelming amount of problems, there has also been a large aid response.
A FEMA spokesperson said Wednesday that the agency has sent 60 “very large” generators to help keep hospitals and other critical infrastructure open.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki added that FEMA is preparing to move diesel into Texas to keep that backup power going.
So far, FEMA said it has sent “millions of liters of water” and “tens of thousands” of blankets.
Governor Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden have also reportedly discussed the possibility of extra funding for people’s electricity bills, as well as for burst pipes. That’s because as the storm first hit, electrical demand surged. Since many Texans have plans connected to the wholesale price of electricity, they’re potentially set to be hit with sky-high bills.
Among other issues plaguing Texans is food spoilage; however, that can potentially be reimbursed through renters’ and homeowners’ insurance.
According to an official from the Insurance Council of Texas, “Food coverage is often related to personal property.”
Notably, there are some stipulations depending on individual circumstances and policy. To learn more about how insurance providers accept food spoilage claims, click here.