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Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, pushed back at a portrayal of himself as highly critical in private of President Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, questioning quotes attributed to him in a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward. The book also includes an admission by Trump on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger of the virus. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said.

Here are some significant developments:
September 9, 2020 at 11:30 PM EDT
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Cardboard cutouts, a quirk of pandemic baseball, let grieving fans honor loved ones

By Rick Maese

Oracle Park, the bayside stadium of the San Francisco Giants, had always been somewhat sacred to Channing Coy’s family.

When her brother, Ryan Bartlett, died of cancer eight years ago at age 22, it surprised no one that he wanted his ashes spread in McCovey Cove, the stretch of San Francisco Bay located just beyond the right field wall.

Her father, Tom Bartlett, couldn’t bring himself to enter the stadium in the years since. There were too many memories.

But then, one recent evening, Channing drove to her father’s house in Vacaville, Calif., snapped his photograph and told him she had figured out a way to get him there. And now father and son are seated side by side again at Oracle Park, for every Giants home game.

Or at least their three-foot facsimiles are.

In baseball stadiums across the country, fans have been locked out this summer because of the novel coronavirus. But at many ballparks, they’ve been able to invite in loved ones, quietly honoring lives and memories with a photo in the stands — a speck on a mosaic that decorates the background of television screens for three-plus hours every night.

September 9, 2020 at 10:45 PM EDT
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With schools closed, public libraries are being used as day-care centers, angering some people

By Samantha Schmidt

As the school year begins entirely online for millions of students across the country, local leaders are facing a child-care crisis for their employees.

In some places, a controversial solution has emerged: repurposing public libraries as day-care centers for the children of essential workers.

Beginning this week, parks and recreation staff in Loudoun County, Va., are offering supervision for as many as 1,000 to 1,200 school-age children of county employees, public school teachers and other members of the public. They’d planned to offer the child care in community centers, 11 elementary schools, leased buildings and two public libraries.

But the decision by the county’s Board of Supervisors to close two libraries — the Rust and Ashburn branches — to convert them into child-care facilities, has angered some library staff and local parents, and it culminated in the resignation last week of the chair of the library’s Board of Trustees.

September 9, 2020 at 10:00 PM EDT
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Coronavirus cases spike among school-age children in Florida, while state orders some counties to keep data hidden

By Lori Rozsa and Valerie Strauss

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A month into the forced reopening of Florida’s schools, dozens of classrooms — along with some entire schools — have been temporarily shuttered because of coronavirus outbreaks, and infections among school-age children have jumped 34 percent. But parents in many parts of the state don’t know if outbreaks of the virus are related to their own schools because the state ordered some counties to keep health data secret.

Volunteers around the state have set up their own school-related coronavirus dashboards, and one school district is using Facebook after the county health department was told to stop releasing information about cases tied to local schools.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has pushed aggressively for schools to offer in-person classes, even when Florida was the hot spot of the nation, and threatened to withhold funding if districts did not allow students into classrooms by Aug. 31. In the state guidelines for reopening schools, officials did not recommend that coronavirus cases be disclosed school by school. In fact, the DeSantis administration ordered some districts, including Duval and Orange, to stop releasing school specific coronavirus information, citing privacy issues.

The state also left it up to districts to decide whether masks should be worn by students and staff. Some require it, but many don’t.

September 9, 2020 at 9:30 PM EDT
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Dozens of Austrians puzzled after receiving U.S. stimulus checks, banks say

By Rick Noack

BERLIN — Hundreds of people have cashed U.S. stimulus checks at Austrian banks in recent months.

Some of them appeared puzzled by the unexpected payments or were ineligible for the payouts, according to bank officials and Austrian media reports.

One of the Austrians who claimed to have received such an erroneous check, pensioner Manfred Barnreiter, 73, told Austria’s public broadcaster ORF that he at first believed his check to be part of a sophisticated fraud scheme.

“We quietly went to the bank … where we were told they’ll see if it’s real,” Barnreiter told ORF. “Three days later, we had the money in our bank account.”

He and his wife received $1,200 each, although neither is a U.S. resident or holds U.S. citizenship — key eligibility requirements. Barnreiter briefly worked in the United States in the 1960s and still receives a small pension from that period of employment, he said.

It is unclear how many U.S. checks were cashed in Austria by ineligible recipients. Similar instances have been reported in other countries.

September 9, 2020 at 8:45 PM EDT
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You’re not imagining it. Masks can make your eyes feel dry. Here’s what to do.

By Allyson Chiu

When the elderly man came to see ophthalmologist Darrell White in early May complaining of a burning sensation in his eyes and occasional blurry vision, White knew exactly what he was dealing with: another case of dry-eye syndrome.

What didn’t entirely make sense, though, was that White, a dry-eye expert practicing in Ohio, had been caring for the man for 20 years, and not once had his patient shown any symptoms of the common condition.

As White looked at the man, who was wearing a face mask, a familiar pandemic-era accessory, he was hit with a “lightbulb moment.”

“With each breath, his glasses were fogging and unfogging, fogging and unfogging,” White said. “That was the aha moment for me.”

The sight of the man’s steamed-up glasses coupled with his sudden onset of eye dryness are both signs of what White is calling “mask-associated dry eye,” or “MADE” — an emerging phenomenon amid the novel coronavirus pandemic that eye experts are now urging the public to be mindful about.

September 9, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT
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Patients may have seen ‘significant’ delays in medicine deliveries by USPS, Senate report finds

By Tony Romm

Patients who rely on the U.S. Postal Service for their prescription drugs may have experienced “significant” delays in their deliveries, according to a Senate report released Wednesday that accused Postmaster General Louis DeJoy of jeopardizing the “health of millions of Americans.”

Several major U.S. pharmacies told Democratic senators leading the investigation that average delivery times have ticked up since the spring, leading to a flood of angry calls from customers and costly requests to resend their medications.

Warren and Casey did not identify the pharmacies, but their report comes nearly three weeks after they asked Walgreens, CVS, and other pharmacies and benefit managers to detail the effects of DeJoy’s changes to the Postal Service. This summer, DeJoy implemented policies to reduce overtime and mail trips, which postal carriers say have led to backlogs nationwide.

September 9, 2020 at 7:38 PM EDT
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Trump acknowledges he intentionally downplayed deadly coronavirus, says effort was to reduce panic

By Josh Dawsey, Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane

President Trump acknowledged Wednesday that he intentionally played down the deadly nature of the rapidly spreading coronavirus last winter as an attempt to avoid a “frenzy,” part of an escalating damage-control effort by his top advisers to contain the fallout from a forthcoming book by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward.

Trump’s comments came hours after excerpts from the book and audiotapes of some of the 18 separate interviews he conducted with the renowned author were released, fueling a sense of outrage over the president’s blunt description of knowing that he was not telling the truth about a virus that has killed nearly 190,000 Americans.

Democrats, led by their presidential nominee Joe Biden, denounced Trump’s actions as part of a deliberate effort to lie to the public for his own political purposes when other world leaders took decisive action to warn their people and set those nations on a better path to handling the pandemic.

September 9, 2020 at 7:36 PM EDT
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Bob Woodward explains why he didn’t reveal Trump virus revelations sooner

By Margaret Sullivan

Two waves of outrage greeted the news on Wednesday of Bob Woodward’s latest White House chronicle, a book entitled “Rage.”

The first was Trump’s disclosure to Woodward that he knew as early as February — even as he was dismissing the coronavirus publicly — that the looming pandemic was far deadlier than the flu.

The second was that Woodward, long associated with The Washington Post, didn’t reveal this to the public sooner.

The fact that this second outrage mostly circulated among journalists talking to each other made it no less furious: If the famous Watergate reporter knew that Trump was lying to the public about a matter of life and death, why didn’t he reveal it immediately?

September 9, 2020 at 7:30 PM EDT
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White House looks at more executive actions as coronavirus-relief talks appear finished

By Erica Werner and Jeff Stein

With the Senate poised to vote Thursday on a slender GOP coronavirus relief bill that’s certain to fail, chances for a bipartisan deal on new economic stimulus look more remote than ever. This impasse has prompted top White House officials to consider a new round of executive actions to try to direct funding to certain groups amid fears that the nascent economic recovery could fail to gain momentum.

White House officials have discussed trying to unilaterally provide support for the flagging airline industry while also bolstering unemployment benefits, according to two people aware of the deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal policy discussions. The White House has also discussed moving without Congress to direct more money for school vouchers and changing President Trump’s recent payroll tax changes to make it more effective.

In August, Trump signed four executive actions meant to provide more unemployment aid, eviction protections, student loan relief and to defer payroll tax payments. The moves have had mixed success and were meant to address political talks that had faltered on Capitol Hill.

September 9, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT
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Fauci pushes back on portrayal of Trump criticism in quotes published in new Woodward book

By Reis Thebault

Anthony S. Fauci pushed back at a portrayal of himself as highly critical in private of President Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, questioning quotes attributed to him in a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward.

The forthcoming book, “Rage,” recounts conversations during which the country’s top infectious disease expert, according to Woodward, told other people that Trump “is on a separate channel” and unfocused in meetings, offering “rudderless” leadership.

“His attention span is like a minus number,” Fauci said, according to Woodward. “His sole purpose is to get reelected.”

In a Wednesday interview with Fox News’s John Roberts, Fauci said he hasn’t read the book, which comes out next week, but suggested that the quotes were inaccurate and did not come from him.

“I don’t recall that at all,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I didn’t read the book, but according to what I saw in the newspapers, it says, ‘And others have said that.’ So, you know, I don’t really want to get involved in that kind of stuff. That is very distracting to the kind of things that I’m trying to do, and that we’re all trying to do, with this outbreak.”

When Roberts asked Fauci whether he would “question that account,” Fauci replied in the affirmative.

He also challenged Woodward’s characterization of Trump’s early pandemic response as a campaign of constant minimization of the virus and its threat to the public.

“I didn’t get any sense that he was distorting anything,” Fauci said of Trump.

The president, however, told Woodward — in audio published by The Post — that he “wanted to always play it down.” Trump also told Woodward in an early February interview that he felt the virus was “deadly stuff,” even as he told the nation it was no worse than seasonal flu.

“I may not be tuned in to the right thing that they’re talking about,” Fauci said. “But I didn’t really see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him and what he ultimately came out publicly and said.”

September 9, 2020 at 5:28 PM EDT
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J.C. Penney finds a buyer, saving it from extinction

By Abha Bhattarai

Department store chain J.C. Penney, which filed for bankruptcy in May, has reached a tentative deal to sell its business to two of the nation’s largest mall owners, Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners.

The agreement, announced Wednesday, prevents a large-scale liquidation of the retailer’s 600 outlets and injects life into the 118-year-old Texas chain, which was struggling long before the public health crisis forced it to temporarily shutter stores and furlough most of its workforce. The deal values the retailer at $1.75 billion.

“We are in a position to do exactly what we set out to do at the very beginning of these cases, and that is: Preserve 70,000 jobs, a tenant for landlords, a vendor partner and a company that has been around for more than a century,” Joshua Sussberg, a partner in the restructuring practice group at Kirkland & Ellis who is representing the retailer, said in a court hearing Wednesday.

The companies will pay $300 million for J.C. Penney, which serves as a sizable anchor store at malls nationwide. It is the third major retailer Simon has bought out of bankruptcy in recent weeks. The other two deals — a $325 million acquisition of Brooks Brothers and a $140 million takeover of Lucky Brands — were finalized last month.

More than a dozen large retailers have filed for bankruptcy since the pandemic hit, and some, like Lord & Taylor and Stage Stores, have announced plans to liquidate stores while they search for a buyer.

September 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM EDT
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Wall Street snaps back from tech-fueled rout, lifting Dow more than 400 points

By Hamza Shaban

U.S. stocks bounced back Wednesday from a three-day sell-off that sliced 10 percent off the Nasdaq composite and pummeled companies that had largely been resilient during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 439.91 points, or 1.6 percent, to close at 27,940.80. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 67.19 points, or 2.0 percent, to end at 3,398.96, while the Nasdaq composite jumped 293.87 points, or 2.7 percent, to settle at 11,141,56.

Technology shares led the rebound, just as they drove the three-day rout that dragged the tech-centric Nasdaq into correction territory. Tesla shot up 10.9 percent after its 21.1 percent free-fall on Tuesday, when it was announced the electric car company had not made the cut for the benchmark S&P 500 index as expected. Microsoft jumped 4.3 percent, Apple added 4.0 percent, Amazon climbed 3.8 percent and Alphabet moved up 1.6 percent. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

September 9, 2020 at 4:26 PM EDT
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Trump says he knew coronavirus was worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans, book says

By Robert Costa and Philip Rucker

President Trump’s head popped up during his top-secret intelligence briefing in the Oval Office on Jan. 28 when the discussion turned to the coronavirus outbreak in China.

“This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien told Trump, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward. “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”

Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed. He told the president that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly.

“You just breathe the air, and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

September 9, 2020 at 4:00 PM EDT
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Fire destroys Europe’s largest migrant camp, which had been under coronavirus lockdown

By Chico Harlan and Elinda Labropoulou

A massive fire destroyed Europe’s largest camp for asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday, leaving 12,500 migrants who were supposed to be under coronavirus

quarantine with no obvious place to go.

Well before the pandemic, the camp known as Moria was a site for protests, fatal fires and chronic sickness. It was filled many times beyond capacity and was cited by international aid groups as unsafe and inhumane.

The pressures on asylum seekers at the camp built further last week when officials detected the first positive coronavirus case. A subsequent testing campaign has since detected another 35 positive cases, and the camp has been put under lockdown.

Video showed people fleeing the camp overnight, the sky orange and yellow, as the camp’s tents and shipping containers were engulfed in flames. Some migrants, attempting to make their way to the island’s main town, were met by police trying to keep them closer to the camp. By morning, the camp was little more than charred husks and collapsed buildings. One photo showed a razed olive grove, once crowded with tents, where only two portable toilets remained standing.

While helicopters doused the final embers, authorities were trying to determine whether there the blaze was connected to frustrations over the coronavirus outbreak.