US still lacks a testing strategy; ISIS blamed for maternity-ward attack; Russian spy intrigue; Space Force flag; And a bit more.

More than 85,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus so far. And most U.S. officials — including the president — are bracing for that number to rise above 100,000 soon.

We’re gonna lose over 100,000 perhaps” President Trump told Fox’s Maria Bariromo in an interview that aired Thursday. 

Defense One reader survey: Nearly 62 percent of respondents disapprove of how Trump has responded to the spread of the coronavirus, according to a survey of Defense One readers that included federal government employees, Defense Department and military personnel, government contractors, and other private-sector workers. Conducted from May 8 to 14, the survey also found that 88 percent said they still remain concerned about contracting COVID-19 in the coming months, and 41 percent think their state is reopening too soon, Read more, here, and specifically about the defense industry, here.

In terms of messaging, Trump said “coronavirus” and “Covid-19” as many times in that Bartiromo interview as he said the name “Obama,” Vox’s Aaron Rupar noticed — and explained why in depth, here.

A wider tale of Fox messaging. Media Matters released a study Wednesday charting coronavirus coverage on Fox News since the day after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. Their findings, in short: coverage on the network has markedly declined. “From March 12 through April 10, 95% of weekday segments on Fox were related to the coronavirus. But in the following month, April 13 through May 11, the proportion of coronavirus-related weekday segments on Fox dropped to just 74%. In the last week, coronavirus-related weekday segments accounted for only 56% of all output from the network.” 

As for the other two big cable news channels,CNN’s coronavirus-related output has exceeded 90% every weekday — except one — since March 12. Similarly, coronavirus-related coverage on MSNBC accounted for more than 80% each day — except one — in the same time period.” Continue reading, here.

By the way: COVID-19 news fatigue is real, and not just in the U.S. 

But “Quarantine Fatigue Is Real,” too, wrote Julia Marcus, professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School, in The Atlantic this week. It’s also why WBUR’s “On Point” devoted Thursday’s show to the topic.

So we are clear: America still lacks a “comprehensive strategy” involving testing and tracing, and it still lacks a plan for what to do once a vaccine is developed, Dr. Rick Bright warned lawmakers Thursday in his testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s health subcommittee. 

“If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities,” he said. CBS News devoted 14-plus minutes to Bright’s testimony in a segment you can watch, here.

The CDC just released “when to reopen” flowcharts, the New York Times reports this morning. And they offer advice for schools, workplaces, restaurants, transit systems, and other businesses. They’re not as detailed as the draft guidelines CDC sent the White House last week; but it would seem to be something of an answer to critics who’ve hammered the administration for its slow response to the pandemic.

And the NIH says today as many as five possible vaccines “look pretty promising.” One or two could even “begin large-scale testing by July,” AP reports.


From Defense One

62% Disapprove of Trump’s Coronavirus Response, Reader Survey Finds // Kevin Baron: Most respondents feel “less safe” because of the president’s actions. Esper gets higher marks, but many fear premature reopening.

Coronavirus Hampering Defense Contractor Operations, Reader Survey Finds // Marcus Weisgerber: It’s harder to win business amid a pandemic, said one-third of industry respondents in a Defense One reader survey.

Air Force Leaders Fret As Another Satellite Maker Declares Bankruptcy // Patrick Tucker: Service leaders are asking for Congressional help in shoring up the defense industrial base.

Iran Is Increasing Its Military and Cyber Activity, Report Says // Patrick Tucker: After a big drop in April, Iran’s conventional military activity is up. Cyber operations never slowed down.

Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Trump: make all F-35 parts in US; DoD spends $1B on COVID response; Intelsat, bankrupt, and more.

Under Real Tyranny, You Don’t Get to March Around with Assault Rifles // Firmin DeBrabander, The Atlantic: The protestors were respected, and left unharmed, because we have the rule of law.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1618, German mathematician Johannes Kepler confirmed what we now call the third law of planetary motion, aka “the law of harmonies” — which also applies to general orbiting objects, like satellites. 


The U.S. says ISIS attacked the maternity ward in Kabul this week, America’s Afghan envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted Thursday evening. Reuters Phil Stewart reminded us Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a return to offensive operations against the Taliban following that attack. So, Stewart pointed out on Twitter, does that mean the “offensive operations” call was more impulsive than strategic? 

The U.S. just escalated its tech war with China, and China promptly threatened back. The White House is blocking “shipments of semiconductors to Huawei Technologies from global chipmakers,” Reuters reports today in a move the Commerce Department said “strategically target[s] Huawei’s acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain U.S. software and technology.”
China responded quickly, threatening to put U.S. companies — including Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Qualcomm Inc., and Boeing — on an “unreliable entity list,” according to China’s Global Times.
President Trump threatened to “cut off the whole relationship” with China in an interview recorded Wednesday with Fox. Global Times’ editor-in-chief responded on Twitter Thursday with a reminder that Trump recommended Americans inject disinfectants. So that’s the kind of toxic spectacle that is the U.S.-China relationship at the moment.
One bright spot: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which makes CPUs for Apple, among other customers, has agreed to build a microchip factory in the United States. (NYT)

Ex-Navy pilot wins Calif. House seat. For the first time in more than 20 years, “a Republican captured a Democratic-held congressional district in California,” AP reported Thursday off Mike Garcia’s win over Democrat Christy Smith this week. “What was supposed to be a tossup election ended up with Garcia holding a comfortable 12-point edge in an incomplete tally Wednesday.” More here.

It may be hard to prosecute Sen. Richard Burr, even if he did dump stocks after a receiving a classified briefing on the impending coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Post writes in a long analysis piece. So why did Burr step down as intelligence committee chairman, especially since past senators suspected of similar crimes declined to do so while the investigation ran its course? 
One theory: The committee is soon to issue its final report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. “Now, with Burr out of the chairmanship, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will appoint a successor,” writes the Wilson Center’s Heather Cox Richardson. “It seems likely that the new chair will change the forthcoming report to support Trump’s new narrative that the Russian investigation was illegitimate rather than to accept the findings of the intelligence community and Robert Mueller’s team.” 

Coming today: Space Force flag. According to today’s White House schedule, the president will participate in the presentation of the U.S. Space Force flag at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Related reading:More Than 2,000 Airmen Have Applied to Join Space Force,” Military.com reported this week.

And finally this week: Some remarkable spy intrigue we all kind of missed. “A Russian agent with a suitcase of ricin planned to assassinate the Mayor of Prague and two other Czech officials,” Michael Carpenter of the Penn-Biden Center tweeted Monday while everyone was on coronavirus watch. That same Russian agent “had diplomatic cover and is currently holed up in the Russian Embassy,” Carpenter added. 
Those details from a Czech media report, relayed by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty this week. Find that, here. Read more from RFE/RL about China’s anti-democratic activity in Europe, here

Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!

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