Health reform implementation

Overnight Health Care: Trump calls off coronavirus relief talks

Getty Images

Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. President Trump is back at the White House and experiencing no symptoms of COVID-19, according to his doctor. Trump celebrated his return by once again downplaying COVID-19, comparing it to the flu. And then he told his staff to stop negotiating with Democrats on a stimulus package. 

Let’s start there: 

Trump calls off coronavirus relief talks 

President Trump said Tuesday that he has instructed his top aides to stop negotiating with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on future coronavirus stimulus legislation until after the November election.

Trump, who is himself currently being treated for COVID-19, accused Pelosi in a series of tweets of “not negotiating in good faith” and seeking “bailouts” for states he says are poorly run by Democratic officials.

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump tweeted.

In killing the talks, Trump seems to be betting that his best chance at reelection is not in getting new emergency funding out the door before Nov. 3, but instead dangling the promise of more aid after voters go to the polls — particularly if he wins. 

Why it matters: Millions of Americans remain out of work; thousands of businesses are on the brink of collapse; and American consumers have been wary of returning to restaurants, theaters and public transit, even in regions where they’ve reopened. Stocks immediately plunged after Trump announced he would call off the negotiations until after the election, which is now four weeks away. 

Read more here.

Trump downplays coronavirus by comparing it to flu

President Trump on Tuesday sought to downplay the coronavirus by comparing it to the flu, even though the coronavirus has killed many more people than the flu has in recent years. 

“Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu,” Trump tweeted. “Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!”

The facts: The coronavirus has already killed more than 210,000 Americans. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the deadliest flu season in recent years was 2017-2018 when it killed an estimated 61,000 people. And many seasons were much lower; 23,000 people died of the flu during the 2015-2016 season. 

“Doctors and scientists are working to estimate the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be substantially higher (possibly 10 times or more) than that of most strains of the flu,” a Johns Hopkins University fact sheet reads.

Trump also told journalist Bob Woodward in early February: “It’s also more deadly than your — you know, your, even your strenuous flus.” 

Read more here

White House physician says Trump reporting ‘no symptoms’ of COVID-19

White House physician Sean Conley said Tuesday that President Trump is reporting “no symptoms” after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center during his treatment for the novel coronavirus.

“This morning the President’s team of physicians met with him in the Residence. He had a restful first night at home, and today he reports no symptoms,” Conley wrote in a memorandum issued Tuesday afternoon, less than five days after Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Vital signs and physical exam remain stable, with an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95-97%. Overall he continues to do extremely well, I will provide updates as we know more,” Conley wrote.

Read more here

And read Morgan Chalfant’s story about how Trump plans to participate in next week’s debate, despite uncertainty about both his health and whether he would be exposing others to the virus.

FDA’s request to COVID-19 vaccine developers raises doubts about approval by Election Day

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants coronavirus vaccine developers to submit two months of safety data before applying for emergency approval, circumventing the White House, which has expressed concerns about the stringent requirements.

The FDA, in documents posted online Tuesday, advised drugmakers conducting COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials to monitor patients for at least two months to assess potential negative effects from their candidates.

President Trump has recently called those steps a “political move” that would surely mean a vaccine is not approved by Election Day.

The White House blocked the FDA from issuing a formal release of the guidance, with The New York Times reporting Monday that chief of staff Mark Meadows had questioned the need for two months of safety data. Meadows also suggested that FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, a Trump appointee, was overly influenced by the agency’s career scientists, the Times reported.

The FDA shared the guidelines anyway through briefing materials to its vaccine advisory committee, instead of through formal guidance that would need approval from the White House. After the FDA published those materials, the guidance was also put alone. 

Why it matters: Scientists argue that it is crucial to follow clinical trial participants for several weeks after their last vaccine dose to have as much data as possible about any negative effects. 

Read more here.

In other vaccine news, Moderna’s vaccine trials have been slowed after contractors failed to recruit enough minority participants. Read more on that here.

DC reports highest single-day rise in coronavirus cases since June

Washington, D.C., reported 105 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the highest daily total for the city since early June.

The spike comes amid an outbreak at the White House, raising questions about whether cases there are seeding the spread of the virus in the surrounding city. D.C. has been averaging about 40 new cases per day, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

A D.C. official said Tuesday that it is not clear whether the outbreak at the White House is the cause of the increase in cases.

The White House conducts its tests in a separate system that is not reported as part of D.C.’s results. Still, given that many White House officials live in D.C. and go to restaurants and interact with other residents, it is possible the White House cases could contribute to spread in the surrounding city.

Another factor is that awareness of the White House outbreak appears to be leading to a surge in people getting tested in D.C., which can contribute to more cases being detected.

The D.C. official said the city’s Judiciary Square testing site conducted about 600 tests on Monday, up from a usual number of about 350.

Read more here


What we’re reading

‘COVID is all about privilege: Trump’s care underscores health inequities (STAT

Nearly one-third of COVID patients in study had altered mental state (The New York Times

‘Epidemiologists just want to vomit’: Doctors disturbed after Trump removes his mask at the White House (The Washington Post


State by state

Midwest keeps reopening as states reel from new virus cases (Politico

Michigan health department issues mask mandate after high court nixes Whitmer’s orders (The Detroit News

What the potential death of the Affordable Care Act means for Florida (Tampa Bay Times

Op-eds in The Hill


Will the president end the politicization of science now that he’s tested positive for COVID-19?

Trump’s mercurial maze of COVID-19

Tags Donald Trump Mark Meadows Nancy Pelosi
See all Hill.TV See all Video