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Trump makes U-turn on Covid stimulus, Stephen Miller tests positive and the vice presidential debate

Joe Biden calls for an end to the politicization of the coronavirus pandemic, saying, "It's a virus. It’s not a political weapon."
President Trump Receives Update On Fight Against MS-13 Gang
Stephen Miller is the latest top aide in Trump's orbit to test positive for Covid-19.Anna Moneymaker / Pool via Getty Images file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter last night and reversed course on Covid-19 relief measures. Stephen Miller is the latest top White House aide to test positive for coronavirus. And the vice presidential candidates have a pre-debate debate about plexiglass at tonight's event.

Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning

Trump flip flops on Covid-19 relief, dangling out $1,200 stimulus checks

President Donald Trump reversed course Tuesday night and urged Congress to approve a series of coronavirus relief measures, including a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans.

"If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?" Trump tweeted Tuesday night.

Earlier in the day Trump abruptly ended stimulus talks between top Democrats and Republicans, putting off efforts to shore up the pandemic-battered economy until after the election.

"I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill," Trump wrote on Twitter earlier Tuesday.

In the minutes after his tweet, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by more than 400 points.

Hours earlier Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned of dire consequences if the federal government did not do more to protect the economy.

"A long period of unnecessarily slow progress could continue to exacerbate existing disparities in our economy. That would be tragic," Powell told the National Association for Business Economics.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement that Trump "showed his true colors" in announcing an end to negotiations and that it demonstrated his "contempt" for everyday Americans.

Trump's presidential rival, Joe Biden, said: "Make no mistake: If you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child's school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him," Biden said.

Stephen Miller tests positive for Covid-19

As President Trump continues to downplay coronavirus, likening it to the seasonal flu on Tuesday, more of his confidants continue to fall ill.

Stephen Miller, a senior policy aide to Trump, is the latest member of the White House staff to test positive for Covid-19.

Miller, one of the chief architects of Trump's immigration policies, announced Tuesday that he had tested positive for coronavirus and is now quarantining.

Seven of the eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are also quarantining after they attended a classified meeting in a Pentagon room called "the tank" on Friday with a Coast Guard admiral who has since tested positive for Covid-19, three defense officials said.

It's hard to keep track of all the people in Trump's orbit who have tested positive for coronavirus at this point, but we're trying. See our tracker here.

Trump compares Covid-19 to flu. Fauci and others say he's flat wrong.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical experts are trying to set the record straight and are contradicting Trump's false claim that Covid-19 is as deadly as the flu.

"You don't get a pandemic that kills a million people, and it isn't even over yet, within influenza," Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, said Tuesday in an interview with NBC News' Kate Snow.

To many Americans still reeling from the loss of loved ones to coronavirus, Trump declaring "Don't be afraid of Covid," upon his release from Walter Reed has come across as boastful and insensitive.

"I think he exists in this bubble and doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand, how bad this is," said Brian Gonzalez, a New Yorker whose father, Jose Hector Gonzalez, died at 58 due to complications from Covid-19.

"As president, he has the best medical care you can find, and I think he’s under the impression that everybody gets the same kind of medical treatment," Gonzalez said. "It is very frustrating that he cannot seem to empathize with anybody."

Biden: 'It's a virus, not a political weapon'

Biden ripped the politicization of the Covid-19 pandemic on Tuesday and urged lawmakers to not use the deadly virus as a "political weapon."

In a sweeping speech in Gettysburg, Pa., the site of the turning point in the U.S. Civil War, Biden compared that period of history to the politically fractured country the U.S. has become, and hit Trump — without naming him — for how he’s handled the pandemic.

"Let's end the politics and follow the science. Wearing a mask is not a political statement. It's a scientific recommendation. Social distancing isn't a political statement. It's a scientific recommendation," Biden said.

"The pandemic isn’t a red or blue state issue," he added. "It affects us all and can take anyone's life. It’s a virus. It’s not a political weapon."

His remarks came as the presidential campaign continues to heat up.

Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will take the stage for the vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, this evening.

The two sides have been sparring pre-debate over the use of a plexiglass barrier on the debate stage as an extra health precaution since more than a dozen people tied to Trump have since tested positive for the virus, though Pence has reported multiple negative test results.

Here's everything you need to know about the one and only vice presidential debate tonight.

Tune into NBC News, MSNBC and for full coverage of the debate starting at 9 p.m. ET tonight.

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THINK about it

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Looking for a new TV and wondering which brand to buy? Tech experts weigh in.

Goodbye to a guitar legend

Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen, whose band helped define the rock genre from the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, died Tuesday following a bout with cancer. He was 65.

His son Wolf Van Halen wrote that he was "the best father I could ever ask for" on Twitter.

Tributes to the guitar virtuoso poured in from his rock contemporaries such as Aerosmith, who called him a "legend" and KISS frontman Gene Simmons who called him a "Guitar God."

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Thanks, Petra