Monday morning news – August 24, 2020

Gulf Coast braces for twin hurricanes » The Gulf Coast is bracing for a potentially devastating one-two punch from twin hurricanes. Forecasters expect the first of those storms, Marco, to slam the Louisiana coastline today as a Category 1 hurricane. 

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said Sunday… 

EDWARDS: The primary threat from these hurricanes—and look, we have to take it all seriously. The wind is certainly a hazard. It can spin off tornadoes. But this is primarily going to be a water event. 

Officials fear major flooding in coastal areas, both because of major rain and storm surge. 

Another potential hurricane, Tropical Storm Laura, is tracking toward the same region of the Gulf Coast. And computer models show Laura could roar ashore less than 48 hours later with winds of more than 110 mph. And the overlapping storms could dump as much as 2 feet of rain in parts of Louisiana.

Laura could still veer west toward the Texas coastline, and in any case, the state is almost certain to get heavy rainfall from the storms. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state disaster on Sunday for 23 Texas counties. 

ABBOTT: These counties include all 22 coastal surge counties as designated by the National Weather Service. In addition to that, it also includes Bexar County, which is included for staging and sheltering. 

Bexar County is home to San Antonio. 

The weather event is historic. Benjamin Schott with the National Weather Service said—quote—“There has never been anything we’ve seen like this before, where you can have possibly two hurricanes hitting within miles of each over a 48-hour period,” 

Calif. fires scorch nearly a million acres with more threatening weather approaching » Meantime, in Northern California, a massive wildfire is now the second-largest blaze in state history. And, combined with hundreds of other fires, the flames have scorched nearly a million acres—that’s an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

And to make matters worse, a weather system is moving in that’s expected to whip up gusty winds and dry lightning. Cal Fire spokesman Brice Bennett…

BENNETT: This is a major concern for us because now we have over 13,000 firefighters out on this line battling these fires in remote areas that, should lightning occur, we have to pull back and retreat to safety.

The largest blaze, the LNU Lightning Complex Fire spread to about 350,000 acres Sunday in five counties in and around California Wine Country. 

The blazes have killed at least five people, torched nearly a thousand buildings, though forests and rural areas have sustained most of the damage.

FDA approves emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients » President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for California on Saturday and at the White House on Sunday, he said he has done the same for Louisiana.

TRUMP: FEMA is mobilized on the ground and is ready to help. They will be in there very quickly. 

Also on Sunday, the president announced what he called a “breakthrough” for COVID-19 treatment. 

He said the FDA has approved emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.

TRUMP: This is a powerful therapy that transfuses very, very strong antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat patients battling a current infection.

But an emergency use authorization is not the same as full FDA approval. And chief scientist for the FDA, Denise Hinton, “COVID-19 convalescent plasma should not be considered a new standard of care.” At least not yet. She said to expect—quote—“well-controlled clinical trials in the coming months.”

Republican National Convention begins today » The Republican National Convention kicks off tonight. It will be largely virtual but with some live events in Charlotte, Baltimore, and Washington. 

Tonight’s featured speakers include former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Jr. But first up will be South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. He’ll take the virtual stage at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller told NBC’s Meet the Press to expect an upbeat and optimistic convention. 

MILLER: One of the things you’re going to see this week is a complete change in the perception I believe that the media tries to tell about what a Trump supporter looks like or who a Trump supporter is. 

The four day convention will culminate with President Trump accepting the party’s nomination for a second term on Thursday.

House passes bill to prevent USPS cutbacks ahead of election » Democratic lawmakers want to give the U.S. Postal Service a $25 billion bonus to help it manage mail-in voting in the upcoming general election. But Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, President Trump, and many Republicans in Congress say the agency could manage without the extra cash. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called lawmakers back from their August recess to debate and vote on the bill. It passed 257-to-150, largely down party lines, though 26 Republicans voted for it.

The legislation also would prevent DeJoy from making meaningful changes to the mail system—which he already promised not to do until after the election.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) Karol Markowski, of the South Pasadena Fire Department, hoses down hot spots while fighting the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Boulder Creek, Calif. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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