Confidence in a coronavirus vaccine that the Trump administration said could be ready before Election Day is waning, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found. This comes as President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have accused each other of politicizing the availability of a vaccine — an essential step toward the economic recovery that voters are seeking.
U.S. stocks fell abruptly on Thursday, failing to drive a partial recovery and extending a multiday sell-off that battered companies in every sector after new unemployment claims failed to improve from last week.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition trial in London has been delayed over concerns that one of the U.S. lawyers trying to bring him across the Atlantic to face prosecution may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
CVS Health will lower its age limit for coronavirus drive-through testing to 12 or older at the more than 2,000 test sites starting Friday, and it will open more than 120 new locations for testing, according to the company.
CVS officially confirmed the age change from 16 and older Thursday after it had previously been reported. The pharmacy giant’s minimum age is set by clinical experts because of the viability of self-swab tests done by children younger than 12, according to company spokesman Joe Goode.
Families with younger children should seek their pediatrician’s advice about other testing options, Goode said.
Children are more likely to not show symptoms of the virus, meaning the virus could spread undetected among younger infected people, especially with schools restarting across the country.
Aside from CVS sites, some counties limit coronavirus testing by age.
“I think it’s problematic not knowing,” Charles Schleien, chair of pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center at Northwell Health in New York, said about limited testing access. “I think parents will have to be incredibly vigilant about any symptoms and keep the kid home and assume the worst.”
Public health experts have said isolation is one of the most effective ways to prevent spread among children.
Ahead of the first day of reopened schools, Florida in August announced it would prioritize pediatric testing.
But testing efforts should focus on those who are symptomatic and were exposed to others, regardless of their age, said Kristin Moffitt, pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School and associate pediatrics physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital, in an interview.
“Also, you certainly want to make sure you have tests available to the people who are at the highest risk of having more severe symptoms of covid-19,” Moffitt said.
Maryland buys 250,000 rapid-detection coronavirus tests for mass screenings
By Erin Cox, Patricia Sullivan and Dana Hedgpeth
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state has ordered 250,000 rapid coronavirus tests that can deliver results in 15 minutes and will be deployed for mass screenings at nursing homes across the state.
The rapid antigen tests, less sensitive than lab-based diagnostic tests that take hours, are newly approved by federal regulators for broad screenings and can be run on a handheld device.
The tests, which Hogan (R) said cost roughly $1 million, are the first purchase from a multistate compact created last month to hasten development of quick-result tests. In the absence of a national testing strategy, 10 states and the Rockefeller Foundation formed a consortium to amplify their buying power and motivate testing companies to ramp up production.
Hogan said Maryland expects to receive the first tests within days. He intends to order at least 250,000 more to deploy elsewhere as part of a multipronged testing strategy to slow the virus’s spread and reopen more of the economy.
Fearing covid-19, high rates of the uninsured and disabled avoid care, the CDC says
By Darren Sands
Unpaid caregivers and Americans who are either uninsured or disabled are more likely to avoid care, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
They reported not seeking out care in a revealing, but hardly surprising new study that says that 41 percent of Americans avoided or put off care because of fear related to the novel coronavirus.
Of the nearly 5,000-person sample taken in an online survey during the last week of June, 41 percent of respondents reported delaying medical care over the course of pandemic. About 31 percent reported avoiding routine procedures, and nearly 12 percent admitted to forgoing emergency care. The study, published as part of the CDC’s weekly report on morbidity and mortality, said that Americans who fail to seek out care for preventable conditions have a higher risk of disease and mortality.
“Given this widespread reporting of medical care avoidance because of COVID-19 concerns, especially among persons at increased risk for severe COVID-19, urgent efforts are warranted to ensure delivery of services that, if deferred, could result in patient harm,” the authors of the report said.
September 10, 2020 at 10:30 PM EDT
Justice Department charges 57 people attempting to steal $175 million in coronavirus relief funds
By Aaron Gregg
The Justice Department has so far charged 57 people with trying to steal a total of $175 million in taxpayer-backed coronavirus pandemic loans, officials said at a Thursday news conference, part of what the agency said was a months-long effort to root out profiteering as the federal government continues to spend giant sums of money to shore up the economy.
The Paycheck Protection Program, a taxpayer-subsidized loan program regulated by the Small Business Administration and implemented by banks and financial technology companies, has been a fraud concern since its launch in early April. Funds were disbursed with relatively little vetting, and businesses were allowed to certify their own eligibility.
“The PPP program represented critical help at a critical time,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt told reporters Thursday. “Unfortunately, the crisis brings out not only those that try to help others, but those who try to take advantage of the crisis for personal gain.”
Analysis: Trump said he downplayed coronavirus to reduce panic. Here are some assertions he has made since February
By Philip Bump
President Trump’s defense for having privately admitted in early February that the novel coronavirus posed a significant threat to the United States — a message that he repeatedly undermined in the following months — was a simple one. He repeatedly downplayed the threat the virus posed because he didn’t want Americans to live in fear.
“The fact is, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country,” Trump said during an event at the White House on Tuesday. “And I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say. And certainly, I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy.”
One can certainly argue that there is a difference between being honest with the public and instilling panic. It’s the difference between the phlebotomist saying that you’ll feel a slight pinch and his trying to get you to look in the other direction while he without warning jams a needle into your arm. My 3-year-old doesn’t like medicine, but we’re past the point where we pretend he’s just getting a funny-colored glass of apple juice.
High numbers of Los Angeles patients complained about coughs as early as December, study says
By Ben Guarino
The number of patients complaining of coughs and respiratory illnesses surged at a sprawling Los Angeles medical system from late December through February, raising questions about whether the novel coronavirus was spreading earlier than thought, according to a study of electronic medical records.
The authors of the report, published Thursday in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, suggested that coronavirus infections may have caused this rise weeks before U.S. officials began warning the public about an outbreak. But the researchers cautioned that the results cannot prove that the pathogen reached California so soon, and other disease trackers expressed skepticism that the findings signaled an early arrival.
The debate about the findings underscores just how much remains to be known about the coronavirus, which has killed at least 187,000 people in the United States, according to a Washington Post analysis.
Two food-processing companies face fines for not protecting workers from virus
By Meryl Kornfield
A Southern California food-processing company was hit with the largest coronavirus-related workplace safety citation nationwide, according to a local labor union, for not effectively preventing the spread of the virus among workers.
California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, tracked more than 20 infections and at least one death to two Overhill Farms facilities, where hundreds of employees were not properly socially distanced, the agency announced Wednesday. Cal/OSHA issued citations and more than $200,000 in fines against Overhill Farms and Jobsource North America, its temporary employment agency, which the state department confirmed was its highest coronavirus-related penalty.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770, the labor union that first complained to state investigators, said the conditions put workers at risk during an already precarious time.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday faced criticism for a much smaller fine imposed on a Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., where at least 1,294 workers contracted the virus, and four employees died of it: $13,494, which is “the maximum allowed by law,” according to the agency.
“The paltry fine that OSHA imposed on Smithfield confirms what we already knew—that during this pandemic Smithfield put profits before the health of its workers & the local community,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) tweeted Thursday after OSHA’s announcement. “Smithfield’s actions led to workers getting sick & dying. There must be real accountability.”
Asked about the fines, the agency said the monetary penalty structure is based on a statutory requirement.
September 10, 2020 at 8:06 PM EDT
Texas Tech looking into a video after clip emerges of partygoer claiming to have covid-19
By Paulina Firozi
Texas Tech University’s dean of students said it is looking into a video after a clip emerged appearing to show someone at a party claiming to have covid-19.
The widely circulated video was posted by a Twitter user who suggested the video involved Texas Tech students.
“We have received a report and are aware of a video related to COVID,” the Texas Tech dean of students tweeted on Sunday. “The matter is being addressed by the Office of the Dean of Students and Student Conduct.”
In the clip, the individual said people at the party keep asking: “Don’t you have covid?”
After claiming to have covid-19, the person pans over a scene at the outdoor gathering and says: "All of these people have covid.”
It is not clear whether the individual is a student at the university or whether any of the people in the video have actually tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“Specific details or information related to a student’s conduct record are protected by federal law and may not be divulged publicly by the university,” university spokesman Chris Cook said in an email.
As of Thursday, the university reported a total of 543 active coronavirus cases, including 501 among students, according to its online dashboard.
In a letter to the university community earlier this month, the school’s president, Lawrence Schovanec, wrote about a “notable increase in positive COVID-19 cases in our campus community."
Schovanec added: “We know, through our contact tracing efforts, that most of our positive cases are the result of parties and other social gatherings that are taking place off campus."
September 10, 2020 at 7:52 PM EDT
Trump says he misled on virus to instill calm. But he’s governed with scare tactics.
By Philip Rucker
A visibly agitated and angry President Trump on Thursday defended his decision to intentionally mislead the public about the lethality of the novel coronavirus by saying he had an obligation as the nation’s leader to prevent panic.
Staring down reporters at a White House news conference in the wake of revelations from Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” Trump cast his deception as a virtue — a president instilling calm to protect the people.
“I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming ‘Death! Death!’ because that’s not what it’s all about. We have to lead a country,” Trump said. He added, “There has to be a calmness.”
Humans are decimating wildlife, and the pandemic is a sign, report says
By Karin Brulliard
Humanity’s expansion, consumption and transformation of land and sea have caused wildlife populations to plunge over five decades, signaling a “broken” relationship with nature that helped trigger the global coronavirus pandemic, a report says.
Average populations of nearly 4,400 mammals, amphibians, birds, fish and reptiles dropped by 68 percent since 1970, according to the World Wildlife Fund report, which is based on vertebrate monitoring projects around the world. The losses have been driven primarily by habitat loss, it says, along with pollution, invasive species, overhunting and overfishing and, increasingly, climate change.
The result is dysfunctional ecosystems — bereft of important pollinators, predators and scavengers — less able to support human or animal health, said Rebecca Shaw, the fund’s chief scientist.
Goldman Sachs will bring some workers back to the office
By Hamza Shaban
One of the largest investment banks in the world has told employees they would be allowed to return to their offices in rotations, underscoring how corporate America is adjusting operations and management of personnel during the pandemic.
Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon and other officials at the company told workers in a memo Wednesday that teams would adopt different approaches to best suit the workforce. Solomon said many considerations would be in play as employees return to office work, including adjusting to school schedules, being mindful of personal and family health conditions, and concerns over commuting to and from work during peak traffic, according to CNBC.
Goldman’s decision to bring some employees back to the office follows a similar move by JPMorgan Chase. Last month, JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank division announced that its employees would adopt a rotational model of working from home, in which staff would report to offices only some days of the week or only some weeks of the month.
In March, when infections began to spread rapidly in New York and other parts of the country, Wall Street sent much of its workforce home. Months later, without a clear end to the pandemic in sight, American businesses are still contemplating how to safely return workers to the office.
Some companies such as Google have extended work from home policies through next summer, while others such as Facebook and Twitter will allow employees to work remotely permanently.
Workers who do return to offices, however, will encounter a host of changes to prevent the spread of the virus — from mask-wearing to spaced-out workstations and stripped-out communal spaces.
September 10, 2020 at 6:05 PM EDT
Fallout from pandemic is turning a desperate strip of America into something ever more dystopian
By Greg Jaffe
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Rose Jusino was waking up after working the graveyard shift at Taco Bell when a friend knocked on her door at the Star Motel. The electric company trucks were back. The workers were about to shut off the power again.
The 17-year-old slammed her door and cranked the air conditioning as high as it would go, hoping that a final blast of cold air might make the 95-degree day more bearable. She then headed outside to the motel’s overgrown courtyard, a route that took her past piles of maggot-infested food that had been handed out by do-gooders and tossed aside by the motel’s residents. Several dozen of them were gathered by a swimming pool full of fetid brown water, trying to figure out their next move.
The motel’s owner had abandoned the property to its residents back in December, and now the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic was turning an already desperate strip of America — just down the road from Disney World — into something ever more dystopian. The motel’s residents needed to pay the power company $1,500.
U.S. to end coronavirus screening of airline passengers arriving from overseas
By Ian Duncan
The United States will end coronavirus screening for airline passengers arriving from much of the world, saying the procedures have “limited effectiveness” for catching sick people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC spokeswoman Caitlin Shockey said Wednesday that 675,000 people underwent the screenings and only 15 were identified as having covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Travelers arriving from China, Iran, most of Europe and Brazil will also no longer be required to arrive at 15 designated airports when the new policy goes into effect Monday, the CDC announced
“We now have a better understanding of COVID-19 transmission that indicates symptom-based screening has limited effectiveness because people with COVID-19 may have no symptoms or fever at the time of screening, or only mild symptoms,” the agency said in a statement. Instead, the U.S. government’s efforts will focus on educating travelers before they leave and while they’re in the air, and on gathering passengers’ contact information so they can be reached if it is determined they may have been exposed to the virus.
The new policy does not change travel bans on non-U.S. residents that apply to the foreign countries.
Time magazine marks impending 200K coronavirus deaths with somber cover
By Marisa Iati
As the coronavirus-related death toll in the United States neared 200,000, Time magazine printed a symbolic black border on the cover of its latest issue for the second time.
The magazine first used the design after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, wrote in an explanation of the new cover. The display features the daily coronavirus death counts between Feb. 29, when the first death was confirmed, and Sept. 8. The number 200,000 is written over the list in bold white letters.
That death total, as Felsenthal points out, is more than three times the in-theater fatalities of U.S. service members during the Vietnam War. “I really hope this cover is a wake-up call for those who are numbed to this catastrophe,” John Mavroudis, the designer of the cover, told Time.
More than 187,000 have died of coronavirus in the United States, the most of any nation, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. Brazil has the second-highest death toll, with about 128,000 fatalities. The United States also has more deaths per capita than all but 11 other countries tracked by Johns Hopkins University.
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