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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Monday that people can sometimes be infected with the coronavirus through airborne transmission, especially in enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation.

The update to the agency Web page explaining how the virus spreads represents an official acknowledgment of growing evidence that under certain conditions, people farther than six feet apart can become infected by tiny droplets and particles that float in the air for minutes and hours.

Here are some significant developments:
  • Trump said he will return to the White House on Monday night after spending the past three days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, where he has been receiving treatment for covid-19.
  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that she has tested positive.
  • Concern for White House and residence staff members has started to rise as their workplace has become a virus hot spot.
  • More attendees at a Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony — which is now drawing scrutiny as a possible superspreader event — tested positive over the weekend.
  • The $4 trillion bailout relief packages distributed money to those with little need for it while allowing the illness, which is now more widespread than when the bills passed, to outstrip the aid.
  • Several states in the once hard-hit Northeast were among those posting their largest new-case counts in months. But many of the sharpest increases per capita came in the Midwest and Mountain West, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Utah and the Dakotas.
  • At least 209,000 people in the United States have died of the coronavirus, according to data tracked by The Washington Post, while more than 7.3 million cases have been reported.
October 5, 2020 at 11:30 PM EDT
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Leaders in Washington region ask White House to follow safety protocols as coronavirus outbreak spreads

By Fenit Nirappil and Dana Hedgpeth

D.C. leaders on Monday said city government has had few discussions with the Trump administration over a growing coronavirus outbreak, but elected leaders in the Washington region are urging the White House to follow pandemic safety protocols to slow its spread.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said her administration has offered help to the White House, but otherwise has had little contact with federal leaders. In Montgomery County, where Trump was recovering after contracting the virus, the top elected official urged the president to act responsibly.

The Rose Garden event at the center of the outbreak comes as the District’s seven-day rolling average of new infections has trended downward for weeks. The city this month has recorded its lowest number of caseloads since early July, averaging fewer than 40 daily cases with a rate of infection lower than most states.

October 5, 2020 at 10:45 PM EDT
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Warren, Durbin say government is failing to contain coronavirus in federal prisons

By Kim Bellware

In a pair of letters to U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr and Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, two Democratic senators say the government’s response to coronavirus outbreaks in federal facilities is failing and question the BOP’s reliance on solitary confinement to isolate sick prisoners rather than granting compassionate release.

Federal prisoners, corrections staff, government inspectors and civil rights advocates have complained for months that the BOP’s strategies, when useful, are inconsistently applied. Since the start of the outbreak, more than 17,000 federal prisoners and staffers have tested positive and more than 130 have died.

“This is mounting evidence that efforts to contain the virus within BOP facilities are failing,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote to Barr and Carvajal in one of the Oct. 2 letters, which were viewed by The Washington Post.

October 5, 2020 at 10:00 PM EDT
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Carnival Cruise Line cancels most North American trips through the end of the year

By Hannah Denham

Carnival Cruise Line has canceled most of its North American cruises through the end of the year, following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s extension on its no-sail order.

The Florida-headquartered cruise line said in a tweet Thursday that it has canceled cruises for all U.S. home ports, except for Miami and Port Canaveral in Florida, through Dec. 31. On Wednesday, the CDC extended its no-sail order until at least the end of October, applying to cruise ships with the capacity of at least 250 passengers that travel in waters under U.S. jurisdiction.

Carnival guests with canceled cruises — as well as those who choose to opt out of the cruises embarking out of Miami and Port Canaveral in November and December — can choose a full refund or a combination of future cruise and onboard credit, the company said.

“We continue to work on protocols and procedures that would allow for the resumption of cruise operations, with a gradual, phased-in approach,” Carnival said in the statement. “We are dedicated to getting back to operations when the time is right.”

The CDC reported at least 3,689 coronavirus infections and 41 deaths on cruise ships in U.S. waters between March 1 and Sept. 29.

October 5, 2020 at 9:15 PM EDT
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Analysis: The serious political and health risks Republicans are taking in moving forward with the Barrett hearings

By Amber Phillips

Despite a coronavirus outbreak that has hospitalized the president, infected a host of his staff and Republican allies, and forced the Senate to pause all votes for two weeks, Senate Republicans are pushing forward with the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. There’s an in-person hearing scheduled for Oct. 12.

“We’re going to have a hearing for Amy Barrett, the nominee to the Supreme Court,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said over the weekend about the first, major step in the process. “It will be done safely — but I’ve got a job to do, and I’m pressing on.”

It’s obvious why Republicans want to plow through: They have a legacy-defining chance to tilt the Supreme Court for years to come, and their ability to do that gets more uncertain after the election. What if they lose the White House and Senate majority?

October 5, 2020 at 8:30 PM EDT
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Black men in St. Louis are dying more from overdoses

By Lateshia Beachum

Black men battling drug addition in St. Louis are dying at a higher rate from overdoses during the coronavirus pandemic, showing another grim side effect of the virus that’s disproportionately hit minority communities, St. Louis Public Radio reported.

Opioid overdoses in St. Louis City and St. Louis County were 32 percent higher in the first seven months of 2020 compared with the same period last year, but Black men saw a 56 percent increase in deadly overdoses, the news station reported.

White women were the only group that saw a decline in deadly overdoses, according to St. Louis Public Radio.

Experts told news outlets that access to drug addiction services has dwindled since the onset of the pandemic, and it’s probably a factor in the increased number of overdoses.

Rachel Winograd, an associate professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, told St. Louis Public Radio that the pandemic has increased addicts’ risk of relapsing on their sobriety and overdosing that could lead to death, even though a decline in overdose was seen toward the end of 2019.

Winograd, who is part of a team that distributes opioid-response grants in the state, told the station that many state leaders have been focused on the coronavirus pandemic, leaving those struggling with addiction without as much attention.

“Now in 2020, it’s all a wash,” she told the news outlet. “Any inching toward a good direction we were doing toward some groups is definitely being undone.”

October 5, 2020 at 7:45 PM EDT
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‘ILY BUT WEAR A PROPER MASK’: Fans call out Lana Del Rey for fishnet face covering

By Jennifer Hassan

Pop star Lana Del Rey has been branded “irresponsible” by fans after she wore a fishnet mask to a poetry reading in Los Angeles and posted video and photos of the event on Instagram.

“All right, guys, I’m doing a little book signing,” the star says in the video shared just before the public reading, her teeth and lips clearly showing from behind the bejeweled netting.

It didn’t take long for people to begin calling out Del Rey for donning a mask that offered little protection — if any — against the highly contagious coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million people worldwide.

October 5, 2020 at 7:00 PM EDT
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‘Doomed to fail’: Why a $4 trillion bailout couldn’t revive the American economy

By Peter Whoriskey, Douglas MacMillan and Jonathan O'Connell

The four spending bills that Congress passed earlier this year to address the coronavirus crisis amounted to one of the costliest relief efforts in U.S. history, and the undertaking soon won praise across the political spectrum for its size and speed.

Six months later, however, the nation’s coronavirus battle is far from won, and if the prodigious relief spending — $4 trillion in grants and loans — was supposed to target the neediest and move the country beyond the pandemic, much of the money missed the mark.

The legislation bestowed billions in benefits on companies and wealthy individuals largely unscathed by the pandemic, according to a Washington Post analysis, while at the same time allowing special aid for unemployed workers to expire over the summer and leaving some local public health efforts struggling for money to conduct testing and other prevention efforts. By failing to focus on containing the virus and the particular harms of the pandemic, the relief packages distributed money to those with little need for it while allowing the illness, which is now more widespread than when the bills passed, to outstrip the aid.

October 5, 2020 at 6:15 PM EDT
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Analysis: Coronavirus moves freely in GOP circles as Republicans play loose with health rules

By Paul Kane

When the novel coronavirus first landed inside the Capitol, it did not choose partisan sides.

Over the first month of the virus’s spread, four Republicans and four Democrats announced they had contracted it, according to a database maintained by NPR.

But since late April — around the time federal health guidelines recommended wearing a mask indoors — the virus has moved more freely in Republican circles. With three GOP senators announcing their positive results in recent days, 10 Republican members of Congress have said they contracted the deadly virus in the last four months.

Some Democrats see a more ideological cause for the virus’s recent spread along Pennsylvania Avenue, one that regular testing can only counter so much. Democrats say their GOP colleagues have played loose with the new rules, particularly when congressional Republicans meet with Trump, whose anti-mask views are well-documented amid recent events with big crowds packed together.

October 5, 2020 at 5:30 PM EDT
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Sen. Ron Johnson, who has covid-19, says he’ll ‘go in in a moon suit’ if necessary to vote on Barrett’s confirmation

By Felicia Sonmez

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who tested positive for the coronavirus late last week, said Monday he is prepared to wear a “moon suit” if necessary to cast a vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Johnson made the remarks in a wide-ranging interview with host Ross Kaminsky of Denver-based radio station 630 KHOW.

“There’s no reason we can’t confirm Justice, or Judge, Barrett,” Johnson said. “Even, quite honestly, if we had to vote electronically. Now, that would be way out there — we’d have to change the rules of the Senate. We may not be able to do that unless everybody’s there. So that’s probably not possible. But we can certainly hold the confirmation hearings electronically.”

He noted that when one visits a medical office, the employees all wear protective gear and take other precautions to do their jobs. The same dynamic should apply to the Senate, Johnson argued.

“If we have to go in and vote — I mean, I’ve already told leadership, I’ll go in in a moon suit,” he said. “We think this is pretty important. I think people can be fairly confident that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell is dedicated to holding this vote.”

In the interview, Johnson also said he is feeling “perfectly fine” but is “in total isolation” since testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Wisconsin Republican repeatedly said he is “not downplaying covid,” while at the same time arguing that “there’s a level of unjustifiable hysteria about covid that I think is just unfortunate.” States, for instance, should not have shut down businesses and schools to slow the spread of the disease, he said.

“The press has done such a good job in ingraining in almost everybody’s brain that if you get covid, it’s a death sentence. It’s not,” Johnson said. “Tragically, for a very small slice of the American public, it is very serious. And obviously, the president’s having a pretty serious bout. But with great medical care, hopefully he’ll bounce out of this as well. But the vast majority of Americans probably don’t even know they ever had it.”

Johnson also argued that the United States should have followed the example of Sweden. The country has steered clear of shutting down schools and restaurants but is also seeing a new wave of coronavirus cases, with the state epidemiologist warning last month that it was heading in the “wrong direction” as winter approaches.

“I’ll still say it — I’ll probably get beat up in the press for this — we should have followed the Sweden model,” Johnson said Monday. “Isolate the sick, quarantine them, protect the vulnerable, and allow the rest of society to carry on with life as carefully as possible. You know, be the germaphobes we’ve all become. That makes sense to me. I think long term, we’ll take a look back at Sweden — I don’t think their economy was harmed anywhere near, certainly, as [much] percentage-wise as the American economy or the rest of Europe, and I think they’ll recover a whole lot faster.”

In an exchange last month with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during a Senate hearing, Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the United States, said it was inappropriate to compare the Swedish situation with that of the United States.

Adam Taylor contributed to this report.

October 5, 2020 at 5:05 PM EDT
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Doctor says ‘there’s a chance’ Trump will be contagious for more than 10 days

By Felicia Sonmez

At Monday’s briefing, Conley declined to say when Trump is likely to stop being contagious, although he said it’s possible the president may be able to infect others for more than 10 days.

“So, the big first thing that we need to do is [make sure] that there is no evidence of live virus still present that he could possibly transmit to others,” Conley said when asked when it might be possible for Trump to return to campaigning. “And that’s what the infectious-disease experts and some of our partners, military-civilian entities, are doing — some of these advanced diagnostics, just to see as soon as we can identify that."

“Routinely, we talk about a 10-day window. You know, CDC guidelines,” he added. “But we’re checking him more routinely than just waiting 10 days. There’s a possibility it’s earlier than that. There’s a chance that it’s a little bit later. But we will know as soon as possible. And then we will look at him clinically — how are you feeling? How are you doing?”

Conley also said Trump’s medical team remains “cautiously optimistic and on guard, because we’re in a bit of uncharted territory when it comes to a patient that received the therapies he has so early in the course."

“So we’re looking to this weekend — if we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving, better yet, then we will all take that final deep sigh of relief,” he said.

Asked how it will be possible to keep Trump safely quarantined at the White House, Conley declined to say.

“I wish I could go into that more, but I just can’t,” he told reporters.

October 5, 2020 at 4:45 PM EDT
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Concern rises for White House residence staff as their workplace emerges as a virus hot spot

By Jada Yuan

Charles Allen’s father, Eugene Allen, who was the subject of the 2013 film “The Butler” and served eight White House families from the Trumans to the Reagans, never missed a day of work in 34 years of government service. But if his father were still working in the White House residence today, Charles says he would have very simple advice: “I would implore him to retire.”

His uncle, John Johnson, was also a butler, and the flouting of safety protocols that has made the White House a coronavirus hot spot has also put the career civil servants who work where President Trump and first lady Melania Trump live at risk of exposure. It has Allen puzzled and incensed.

“I would be begging my dad and uncle, ‘You need to get the hell up out of there,’ ” he says. “It’s like, ‘Get out! Get out!’ ”

The White House residence staff members are largely Black and Latino, and often elderly, according to Katie Anderson Brower, who compiled a trove of interviews with former staffers for her book, “The Residence.” Numbering 90-some full-time ushers, butlers, housekeepers, valets, florists, engineers and cooks charged with maintaining the historical house and creating a comfortable home free from prying eyes, they work more closely with the first family than perhaps anyone else in that building. These employees often keep their positions for decades and work for administration after administration, viewing their job as holding up the integrity of the White House regardless of who is in office.

October 5, 2020 at 4:08 PM EDT
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White House physician says Trump meets discharge criteria, declines to answer some questions

By Felicia Sonmez

At a news briefing Monday, White House physician Sean Conley said that Trump had met the discharge criteria, although he declined to answer several questions from reporters, including on the timing of Trump’s last negative coronavirus test.

“Though he may not be entirely out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations — and most importantly, his clinical status — support the president’s safe return home,” Conley said.

He also declined to weigh in on Trump’s tweet that Americans should not be afraid of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“I’m not going to get into what the president says,” Conley said.

On Sunday, Conley noted that the president’s blood oxygen levels had dropped Friday and Saturday, and he was given treatment typically reserved for severely ill patients.

Outside infectious-disease experts over the weekend said the president remained in a dangerous period of vulnerability. Trump’s campaign team and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had expressed optimism about the president’s improving condition.

October 5, 2020 at 3:24 PM EDT
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A hiatus for the Kayleigh McEnany show? Coronavirus sidelines another potent Trump surrogate.

By Paul Farhi

The sidelining of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany due to a positive coronavirus test on Monday will eliminate one of President Trump’s most potent allies in the final weeks of his uphill re-election battle.

Since she joined the White House in April, McEnany’s press briefings have become electric, combative affairs that have resonated not just on live television but for days afterward as memes on social media. McEnany’s closing briefing comments — typically scripted — in which she denounces the press for some alleged bias or shortcoming have made her a heroine within conservative media and among Trump supporters, despite their uncertain or questionable veracity.

Even before she announced her positive diagnosis on Monday, McEnany’s regular briefings appeared to be endangered. Reporters have gravitated to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Trump has been staying since Friday, and have been pulling up stakes from the White House amid a troubling cluster of coronavirus infections there.

October 5, 2020 at 3:23 PM EDT
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Schools to close in New York City hot spots, governor says

By Brittany Shammas

Schools in nine New York City Zip codes where coronavirus positivity rates have increased will close Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday, just days after the city reopened all of its public schools.

The move was not prompted by outbreaks in schools. Instead, Cuomo (D) said he was troubled by the lack of data on schools within the hot-spot areas in Brooklyn and Queens. While some schools have been tested, he said, others have not.

“I would not send my child to a school in a hot-spot cluster that has not been tested, where I did not have proof that the infection rate was low in that school,” Cuomo said. “I would not send my child. I am not going to recommend or allow any New York City family to send their child to a school that I would not send my child.”

The governor’s announcement came after Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) sought state permission to close schools Wednesday in the Zip codes where positivity rates have been increasing. Cuomo said he had spoken with the mayor and the president of the teachers union, who agreed action was needed.

The hot-spot areas have experienced a positivity rate above 3 percent, compared with the city’s overall rate of about 1.5 percent, prompting fear of a second wave of the virus in New York City. Those areas include a heavy Orthodox Jewish population, and Cuomo said he planned to meet Tuesday with religious leaders to ensure they agree to the rules for keeping religious institutions open.

“We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks. … What did you think was going to happen?” he said. “If you do not agree to enforce the rules, then we’ll close the institutions down. I am prepared to do that.”