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Seven former commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration say political interference from the Trump administration could have a catastrophic effect on the agency’s credibility as it prepares to roll out a coronavirus vaccine.

“If the FDA makes available a safe and effective vaccine that people trust, we could expect to meaningfully reduce covid-19 risk as soon as next spring or summer. Without that trust, our health and economy could lag for years,” the commissioners wrote in a rare public rebuke published Tuesday in The Washington Post.

Since February, at least 7,155,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the United States, with 205,000 fatalities.

Here are some significant developments:
  • The economic collapse sparked by the pandemic is triggering the most unequal recession in modern U.S. history.
  • More children in New York state have lost parents to covid-19 than in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a new analysis.
  • American Airlines will begin furloughing 19,000 employees Thursday, the first carrier to make such an announcement as hope faded for a bipartisan covid relief deal.
  • President Trump has scheduled large campaign rallies this weekend in Wisconsin despite recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force that call for increasing social distancing in the state “to the maximal degree possible.”
  • Democratic nominee Joe Biden repeatedly hammered President Trump over his response to the coronavirus crisis during Tuesday night’s debate, saying the president “panicked” when the virus hit and cannot be trusted about the timing of an eventual vaccine.
  • These laboratory-made antibodies are a best bet for a coronavirus treatment, but there won’t be enough.
  • As uncertainty brought by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders continue, American adults have sharply increased their consumption of alcohol, a study released Tuesday by the Rand Corp. found.
September 30, 2020 at 11:30 PM EDT
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Raiders players attended a gala without masks the day before coronavirus outbreak hit NFL

By Cindy Boren

The day before the NFL was faced with its first coronavirus outbreak, Las Vegas Raiders players were seen not wearing masks at a charity event that was in violation of Nevada rules and NFL protocols.

A fundraiser for the charitable foundation of Raiders tight end Darren Waller on Monday night drew Derek Carr, Jason Witten, Nathan Peterman, Foster Moreau, Zay Jones, Hunter Renfrow, Nevin Lawson and Waller along with a crowd of about 100 to an indoor event at the DragonRidge Country Club in Henderson, Nev., a Vegas suburb, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. Photos and video showed players and guests not wearing masks.

The country club was fined $2,000 by the city of Henderson on Tuesday for four violations of coronavirus directives issued by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). Those directives included the wearing of masks and limiting indoor gatherings to no more than 50 people. (The latter order is set to be increased to a limit of 250 on Thursday.)

The league, which unlike the NBA and NHL is not holding its season in a competition bubble that keeps teams at a limited number of sites, set protocols in agreement with the NFL Players Association that limit players’ activities, including barring them from attending any event that “violates local and state restrictions.”

September 30, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT
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NFL threatens suspensions, loss of draft picks for mask violations

By Mark Maske

The NFL underscored its warning to coaches that they must comply with the league’s directive on wearing face coverings while on the sideline during games. In a new memo sent Wednesday, the league told teams that penalties more severe than the fines already levied are possible.

“We will continue to address lack of compliance with accountability measures that may also include suspensions of persons involved, and/or the forfeiture of a draft choice(s),” the NFL said in its memo to teams, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

The league has imposed fines totaling at least $1.75 million for violations of these rules during games. Mask-wearing is required for coaches and other staff members and merely recommended for players on the sideline in most NFL stadiums. It is required for home games of the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills, under applicable local and state guidelines.

September 30, 2020 at 10:15 PM EDT
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Analysis: The 132 times Trump has downplayed the coronavirus threat

By Aaron Blake and JM Rieger

President Trump gambled very early and often on the idea that the coronavirus outbreak wouldn’t turn out to be nearly as severe as some health officials warned it could get.

New interviews with Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward reveals Trump knowingly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus threat, despite acknowledging to Woodward in early February that the virus was deadlier than the flu. Even as Trump has occasionally adopted health officials’ more cautious tone about what lie ahead, though, the optimism that dominated his early response hasn’t completely disappeared.

September 30, 2020 at 9:20 PM EDT
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Wisconsin reports record number of deaths ahead of Trump rallies

By Meryl Kornfield

Wisconsin reported 27 deaths related to the coronavirus Wednesday, its highest single-day toll since the start of the pandemic.

The record comes as the state’s daily case count has climbed for the past month, spurred by people flouting social distancing rules and mask mandates. The previous peak was 22 deaths on May 27, according to data gathered by The Washington Post. The state reported 2,459 new infections Wednesday, the third-highest number in the country.

The death toll — along with a new high in hospitalizations reported Wednesday — is a grim backdrop to two large outdoor rallies planned for this weekend by the Trump campaign.

The events in Green Bay and La Crosse on Saturday will be held at airport hangars, according to the Trump campaign website, but with no mask requirement.

Those metro areas are also among several Wisconsin cities and counties where the spread of the virus is most concerning, according to the White House coronavirus task force. In weekly reports sent to local health leaders on Sunday and Sept. 20, federal officials classified Wisconsin — and the two locations Trump plans to visit — as “red” because the number of new cases per 100,000 people was above a certain threshold.

The documents from the task force recommended a bevy of changes with a focus on nursing homes and college towns with large outbreaks, including “intense social distancing” where needed.

“No party, no gathering, no bar is worth it,” Gov. Tony Evers (D) said Tuesday at a news briefing. He suggested two options for Trump: mandate masks or don’t show up.

“Number one, he could not come,” Evers said. “The second thing that could be done is for him to insist that if people are there, they wear a mask. He can make that happen. He could wear one, too.”

September 30, 2020 at 9:11 PM EDT
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U.S. airlines to accept billions in loans from federal government; still no deal to avoid furloughs

By Lori Aratani

Seven U.S. airlines will accept billions in government loans as they seek to navigate through the unprecedented financial crisis created by the global pandemic.

Treasury Department officials announced late Tuesday that Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and United Airlines will accept money from the $25 billion loan program created as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package known as the Cares Act.

The announcement comes as tens of thousands of airline employees face the possibility of furloughs if Congress is unable to reach a deal to extend a separate grant program that gave airlines billions of dollars if they agreed to keep workers on the job through the end of September. While negotiations continue, a deal must be reached before midnight.

September 30, 2020 at 8:45 PM EDT
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The NBA’s bubble held for two months. League executives won’t celebrate for two more weeks.

By Ben Golliver

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Three months into this grand experiment, the NBA’s once-bustling Disney World bubble has turned into a ghost town.

When more than 1,500 players, coaches and staff members arrived to complete an abridged regular season and commence with the traditional 16-team postseason format, the league used three arenas to hold concurrent games and three hotel properties to house more than 300 players. Now, only one arena and one hotel are required.

The NBA’s “Whole New Game” signs in the arena have been replaced by “Vote” billboards in the run-up to the presidential election, and the Disney Store on campus has shifted from July Fourth decorations to a Halloween theme. Familiar faces on the 1½-mile exercise loop have disappeared one by one, and the butterflies that fluttered all summer have moved on.

September 30, 2020 at 8:25 PM EDT
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American Airlines says it will begin furlough of 19,000 employees as hope for federal help fades

By Ian Duncan and Lori Aratani

American Airlines will begin furloughing 19,000 employees Thursday, the first carrier to make such an announcement as hope faded for a deal between congressional leaders and the Trump administration on a coronavirus relief package to help the industry.

American Chief Executive Doug Parker said in a letter to employees that he spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin late Wednesday about the status of his negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), but came away with no guarantee a deal would be reached.

Parker wrote the airline had to begin the furloughs, but that he committed to Mnuchin that it would recall employees if a deal is reached.

September 30, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT
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NFL postpones Titans-Steelers game until Monday or Tuesday after coronavirus outbreak

By Mark Maske

The NFL postponed Sunday’s game between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers until Monday or Tuesday because of the coronavirus outbreak involving the Titans, marking the first change to the league’s regular season schedule as it operates amid the pandemic.

The league said in a written statement issued Wednesday that the game, which is to be played in Nashville, “will be rescheduled to allow additional time for further daily COVID-19 testing and to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel. Details on the new game date and time on either Monday or Tuesday will be announced as soon as possible.”

One Titans player tested positive for the coronavirus in testing results returned Wednesday morning, according to the NFL. That new positive result came in addition to the eight confirmed positive test results for the Titans — three players and five other members of the organization — returned Tuesday, constituting the first outbreak on an NFL team this season.

September 30, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT
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Trump-Biden ‘cage fight’ stokes global perception of a country in decline, mired in chaos

By Rick Noack

There was a time when much of the world watched President Trump’s conduct with a mix of worry and amusement, concerned about U.S. policy but content to watch the spectacle. That time has passed.

The global reaction to Tuesday’s presidential debate was somber and disquieted, as countries considered anew the increasingly real possibility that the U.S. president could challenge the results of November’s election, rattling the foundations of democracy and roiling the global economy.

Though Trump’s presidency has been defined by moments of disruption and surprise, what unfolded Tuesday night still seemed like a turning point, as a world beset by the novel coronavirus pandemic and the political turmoil it has wrought saw a superpower’s election run through with chaos and dysfunction.

September 30, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT
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Trump again says he ‘brought back Big Ten football,’ a claim disputed by many

By Cindy Boren

President Trump once again took credit for bringing back college football during his Tuesday night debate with Joe Biden in the Big Ten Conference hotbed of Ohio.

“I’m the one that brought back football, by the way,” he said on the debate stage in Cleveland. “I brought back Big Ten football. It was me and I’m very happy to do it.”

Trump’s claim was quickly disputed by Randy Wade, whose son Shaun plays at Ohio State and is an NFL prospect. Shaun Wade initially opted out of playing in college this season, but recently was allowed to opt back in. “If Trump brought back the [Big Ten], then my name is Shaun Wade and I’m playing slot corner Oct.24th,” Randy Wade tweeted. “These parents, players, fans, coaches, ADs and Medical staff made everything happen … #FakeNews #Fight. Stop turning these young men’s future into politics.”

September 30, 2020 at 5:45 PM EDT
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These laboratory-made antibodies are a best bet for a coronavirus treatment, but there won’t be enough

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

In two-story-high stainless steel vats, a drug is brewing in trillions of hamster ovary cells. Many experts think this could be the best bet to defang the novel coronavirus and transform it from a potentially lethal infection into a treatable illness.

Current treatments for the coronavirus aim to help the sickest patients survive. But this drug, called a monoclonal antibody cocktail, aims to keep people out of the hospital altogether. The experimental shot of lab-generated antibodies imitates the body’s own disease-fighting force. The goal is to boost a person’s immune defense, instead of waiting for human biology to muster its own response — and possibly lose to the virus.

Predictions about coronavirus vaccines have become almost deafening in recent weeks, but whether the first doses of a vaccine arrive this year or not, some people will continue to get sick. A medication that could prevent people from progressing to the point that they need a hospital bed or ventilator could be a bridge to a vaccine, or it could be the lifeline that could give people confidence to return to normal life even once vaccines are developed.

September 30, 2020 at 5:23 PM EDT
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U.S. stocks end third quarter on a high note, despite rocky September

By Taylor Telford and Hannah Denham

Wall Street wrapped up the third quarter on a high note Wednesday, even as a maelstrom of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and stimulus hopes weighed on investors.

Better-than-expected jobs data, progress toward a possible coronavirus treatment by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and promising results from Moderna’s covid-19 vaccine trials spurred some positive sentiment on Wall Street. But conflicting signals about an possible stimulus deal from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dampened gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average seesawed but closed up 329 points, or 1.2 percent, at 27,781.70. The S&P 500 index climbed more than 27 points, or 0.8 percent, to settle at 3,361.00. The tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 82 points, or 0.7 percent, to settle at 11,167.51.

September 30, 2020 at 5:00 PM EDT
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New York reports new spike in coronavirus cases

By Paulina Villegas

New York reported a spike in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations Wednesday, as the governor warned those in hot spots to take the virus seriously.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced Wednesday that the state reported more than 1,000 new infections, with 605 people hospitalized, and nine deaths from covid-19. The state ran 97,960 tests Tuesday, Cuomo said.

Hospitalizations exceeded 600 in a day for the first time since July 29, and new cases surpassed 1,000 or more for the third time in five days, a first since early June, according to data gathered and analyzed by The Washington Post.

Almost a quarter of the new positive cases come from 20 hot spot Zip codes with the highest number of cases coming from Kings and Rockland counties.

“We are targeting these clusters immediately to prevent community spread. If you live in one of these Zip codes, treat this seriously,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

The governor reiterated the importance of the use of masks. “Wearing a mask works. It’s science. And it’s the law of New York State,” he wrote.

On Wednesday other states reported new highs for infections.

Montana set another single-day record of 347 new cases Wednesday, and its seven-day average has set new highs for 15 days in a row. It also has reported 170 hospitalized covid-19 patients, another record for the state.

Minnesota, Utah and Puerto Rico have again set new highs for seven-day-average cases Wednesday, and Wisconsin has set its new average high for the 19th day in a row, according to Post data.

September 30, 2020 at 4:13 PM EDT
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The covid-19 recession is the most unequal in modern U.S. history

By Heather Long, Andrew Van Dam, Alyssa Fowers and Leslie Shapiro

The economic collapse sparked by the pandemic is triggering the most unequal recession in modern U.S. history, delivering a mild setback for those at or near the top and a depression-like blow for those at the bottom, according to a Washington Post analysis of job losses across the income spectrum.

Recessions often hit poorer households harder, but this one is doing so at a scale that is the worst in generations, the analysis shows.

While the nation overall has regained nearly half of the lost jobs, several key demographic groups have recovered more slowly, including mothers of school-age children, Black men, Black women, Hispanic men, Asian Americans, younger Americans (ages 25 to 34) and people without college degrees.