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Franco Ordoñez

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.

Ordoñez has received several state and national awards for his work, including the Casey Medal, the Gerald Loeb Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism. He is a two-time reporting fellow with the International Center for Journalists, and is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and the University of Georgia.

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

President Trump is vehemently defending himself against allegations that he has privately disparaged veterans for their military service during his time in office even as his campaign has sought to showcase his support for those in uniform.

The characterization of Trump as a commander in chief who privately denigrates veterans even while he publicly lavishes praise upon them and claims them as part of his voting base is freighted with political risk ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

President Trump stoked an untrue conspiracy theory being promoted by supporters — and his campaign — that Sen. Kamala Harris of California is not eligible for the vice presidency.

The Democrat was born in California and therefore qualifies for the job.

The Trump administration's decision to entrust $765 million of taxpayer money to Eastman Kodak raised several questions about the financial vetting of the struggling camera company even before the deal was put on hold amid an investigation into potential insider trading.

President Trump tapped into the emotions and nostalgia of a bygone era, charging that Kodak would lead U.S. efforts to bring pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States.

Updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

The renewed surge in coronavirus cases has left some states once again scrambling to find supplies of masks, gowns, gloves and other medical supplies. The shortages have drawn attention to President Trump's plan to help rebuild the national stockpile of these supplies — a plan that involves a little-known foreign investment agency.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not release a set of documents this week aimed at giving schools advice on how to reopen to students after coronavirus shutdowns, NPR has learned. Instead, the full set will be published before the end of the month, a CDC spokesperson says.

"These science and evidence-based resources and tools will provide additional information for administrators, teachers and staff, parents, caregivers and guardians, as together we work towards the public health-oriented goal of safely opening schools this fall," the spokesperson said.

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

President Trump once again questioned the expertise of his top public health officials Monday morning, retweeting a conspiracy theory from former game show host Chuck Woolery, who suggested that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the "Media, Democrats [and] our Doctors" are lying about COVID-19 in an effort to hurt Trump in November's general election.

President Trump on Friday said he plans to unveil sometime in the next month an immigration measure that he said would include some protections for DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that provides for work permits and other protections for people brought to the U.S. as children by undocumented parents.

Trump had tried to cancel the Obama-era program, but the Supreme Court last month said it could stay in place.

President Trump and his Chinese counterpart spoke about Trump's reelection prospects "frequently," former national security adviser John Bolton told NPR.

According to Bolton, Chinese President Xi Jinping lamented that Trump couldn't run for a potential third term, to which Trump "said yes," Bolton recounted.

Updated 5:45 p.m. ET

President Trump on Monday extended a freeze on green cards for new immigrants and signed an executive order to suspend new H-1B, L-1, J and other temporary work visas for skilled workers, managers and au pairs through the end of the year.

The goal of the move is to protect 525,000 jobs as part of the White House response to job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, said a senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity. NPR first reported the impending order on Saturday.

The White House coronavirus task force rejected detailed guidance drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how workplaces ranging from schools to bars to churches should resume operations to prevent the spread of the virus because it was viewed as "overly prescriptive."

President Trump said the existing coronavirus social distancing guidelines that are set to expire with the end of April on Thursday will not be extended further, as more governors begin steps to lift restrictions and reopen their economies.

The administration said the existing social distancing recommendations are being incorporated by governors into their new future plans.

"They'll be fading out, because now the governors are doing it," Trump said.

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday aimed at addressing concerns about meat shortages.

The order invokes the Defense Production Act to ensure beef, pork, poultry and egg plants keep running.

Vice President Pence says comments he made last month about coronavirus testing were misunderstood by the public.

At issue: test distribution versus test completion.

Pence joined President Trump on Monday to announce a federal "blueprint" to help states ramp up their testing of the virus. Testing is seen as crucial for states to begin to lift social and economic restrictions.

Vice President Pence is slated to leave the confines of Washington twice this week — the latest in a series of trips the White House is using as test runs for President Trump to get back on the road after the coronavirus brought political travel to a screeching halt.

Two leading former federal health officials who served in recent Republican and Democratic administrations are spearheading a call for a $46 billion public health investment in a future coronavirus aid package in order to safely reopen the economy.

New White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to see how to reduce wage rates for foreign guest workers on American farms, in order to help U.S. farmers struggling during the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials and sources familiar with the plans.

Opponents of the plan argue it will hurt vulnerable workers and depress domestic wages.

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, criticized governors Thursday, saying they don't have a handle on their own supplies of masks and ventilators needed to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

In a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, Kushner urged governors and some senators to be more resourceful in their own states instead of looking first to the federal government for help.

Two weeks ago, President Trump entered the White House briefing room and announced an aggressive plan to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Stay home for 15 days, he told Americans. Avoid groups of more than 10 people. "If everyone makes this change, or these critical changes, and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus," he said.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The nation's 15 days of social distancing are nearly over. And while many states have issued stay-at-home orders for much longer periods of time, new guidance from the White House coronavirus task force is due soon.

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The United States and China are locked in a struggle over influence and messaging about the coronavirus pandemic even as governments around the world struggle to control the outbreak.

This week, Washington claimed a small victory.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus hailed comments by China's ambassador walking back an earlier false claim in Beijing that the U.S. Army had introduced the coronavirus to its epicenter in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday declared that the coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency, a designation that frees up as much as $50 billion in federal assistance to state and local governments overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, and makes it easier to surge medical resources to areas that need them most.

Ricardo Flores can't vote on Tuesday. He's not a citizen.

But Flores wants to play a role now. He figures if he can convince a few people, especially members of his own Latino community in Kansas City, Mo., to cast a ballot for his candidate — that's a close second.

"I'm going to become a citizen of this country," he says. "And I'm going to be able to vote and I have my life here now, I want to see things better."

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday stopped in at the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency marshaling the response to coronavirus — a major political test for his administration.

The trip itself was almost derailed by coronavirus fears, and mixed signals about what was happening created an on-again, off-again drama that played out in front of television cameras. The chaotic impression clashed with the White House quest to show that the public health crisis is under control.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Olympia, Wash., on Thursday to meet with the governor and health officials and express support for the region that has been hit hardest by coronavirus.

"By being there on the ground, I want to assure the people of Washington State, people of California, people that are in the communities that are being impacted by the virus, that we're with them," Pence told reporters, pledging federal resources to help.

Updated at 5 :45 p.m.

The White House sought to show it was shoring up its efforts to corral the spread of coronavirus on Thursday, naming an internationally recognized HIV/AIDS expert as its new coronavirus response coordinator.

Debbie Birx is a State Department ambassador-at-large who works on global health diplomacy issues. Vice President Pence said Birx would be detailed to his office.

Updated at 9:10 p.m. ET

Jared Kushner has been quietly trying to resurrect discussions to overhaul the U.S. immigration system, multiple people familiar with the conversations have told NPR.

President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law has been meeting with business leaders, immigration hard-liners and other interest groups important to Republicans with the goal of rolling out a new immigration plan once Trump's impeachment trial ended.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Trump took full advantage of the large television audience for his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to make his case for reelection in November, touting the strong economy and delighting Republicans in the room with a series of made-for-TV moments.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's appearance at the State of the Union — as well as the bipartisan ovation he received — was intended to send a strong message of U.S. support for his efforts to unseat Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro.

Guaidó attended the address as a guest of the White House.

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