Overnight Health Care: Supreme Court to hear ObamaCare appeal | Washington state confirms 4 more coronavirus deaths | FDA expects 1M coronavirus tests by week's end | White House expands virus task force

Overnight Health Care: Supreme Court to hear ObamaCare appeal | Washington state confirms 4 more coronavirus deaths | FDA expects 1M coronavirus tests by week's end | White House expands virus task force
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Monday's Overnight Health Care.

The number of coronavirus patients in the U.S. continues to climb, with more deaths being reported. Meanwhile, Congress is getting closer to unveiling a supplemental funding bill for virus relief efforts. And, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the ObamaCare lawsuit this year.

We'll start with the news from the Supreme Court: 

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In some big non-virus news: The Supreme Court is taking up the ObamaCare case

What it means: The case will loom over the November elections and could make the Affordable Care Act an even bigger issue in the presidential race.

The case will be heard during the court's next term, which starts in October, meaning that a decision is not expected until after the elections. It is unclear when the court will hear arguments, but those could come in October, before the election.

Democrats jumping on the case: Democrats immediately seized on the decision with a flurry of press releases to highlight the stakes for the election, while Republicans were mostly silent.

"This case is a stark, life-and-death reminder how much is at stake this fall and what's on the ballot right now: Democrats must nominate the candidate whom they know can beat Trump and bring along the Senate, to ensure we can protect our health care for generations to come," former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response Biden tells CNN town hall that he has benefited from white privilege MORE said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee called the lawsuit the "single most important issue in Senate battlegrounds across the country."

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Read more about the case here.

 

And in the latest on the coronavirus...

 

Washington state confirms 4 more coronavirus deaths, bringing death toll to 6

Health officials on Monday confirmed four additional coronavirus deaths in Washington, bringing the state's total death toll to six.

There are 18 confirmed cases in Washington, including the six deaths.

Most of those who have died were elderly or had underlying health conditions.

"Unfortunately, we are starting to find more COVID-19 cases here in Washington that appear to be acquired locally," said Dr. Kathy Lofy, a health officer for the Washington State Department of Health.

All of the cases are in two adjacent counties: Snohomish and King, which is home to Seattle.

Lofy said the virus could be spreading in other areas of the state, which is ramping up testing to better understand how widespread the virus is in Washington.

Of the six deaths, four had been residents of a nursing home, illustrating the danger the disease poses to the elderly and those who have underlying health conditions.

Officials noted that the vast majority of people who get infected will fully recover.

Read more here.

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FDA expects 1 million coronavirus tests to be available by week's end 

The U.S. will have the capacity by the end of the week to perform nearly 1 million coronavirus tests, public health officials said Monday.

That would mark a significant increase in the number of people able to be tested for the coronavirus in the U.S. after issues with a test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) led to delays in diagnosing new cases.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn told reporters at the White House that new regulatory guidance will allow academic centers and private companies to more quickly develop and verify their own tests for public use.

Why it matters: Flaws in a test developed by the CDC has led to testing delays. Experts believe there are likely hundreds of cases in the U.S. in people who have not been tested. As state and local health departments ramp up testing, it's likely new cases could be identified. 

Read more about the testing here

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Trump urges pharmaceutical executives to accelerate coronavirus vaccine efforts

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE on Monday said he is urging pharmaceutical executives attending a White House meeting to accelerate their efforts to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.

"We've asked them to accelerate whatever they're doing in terms of a vaccine," Trump told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with the president of Colombia.

The president and members of the White House coronavirus met with pharmaceutical executives. Ten pharmaceutical executives were in attendance, including the CEOs of Novorax, Gilead, CureVac and Inovio. Officials from Pfizer, Sanofi and Johnson and Johson were also at the meeting. 

Trump said the meeting was previously arranged to discuss drug pricing as the White House and Congress weigh legislation aimed at curbing costs.

Read more here

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White House adds VA secretary, CMS chief to coronavirus task force

The Trump administration's coronavirus task force keeps expanding: Trump on Monday added Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert WilkieRobert Leon WilkieAtlantic editor: Reporting on Trump comments about fallen service members has only just begun Sunday shows - Stimulus, election preparations dominate Veterans Affairs secretary defends Trump: 'I judge a man by his actions' MORE and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to its ranks.

The office of Vice President Pence, who is overseeing the White House's response to the disease, announced their additions on Monday.

Wilkie and Verma will join a handful of officials, many of them focused on health and national security issues, already on the task force led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Pence's office announced Sunday that the task force would also add Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonBiden cannot keep letting Trump set the agenda The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump heads to New Hampshire after renomination speech Five takeaways on GOP's norm-breaking convention MORE, a former brain surgeon; Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn and White House science adviser Kelvin Droegmeier.

Pence has been leading the administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak and briefed reporters Monday evening at the White House alongside Ambassador Deborah Birx, a State Department health expert who is coordinating the response to the virus.

Read more here.

 

What we're reading

As coronavirus numbers rise, CDC. testing comes under fire (The New York Times

Major airlines, U.S. officials clash over passenger tracking related to coronavirus cases (The Washington Post)

CNN, NYT, Condé, WSJ, and other media giants implement coronavirus restrictions (Daily Beast

A detailed guide to the coronavirus drugs and vaccines in development (Stat News)  

 

State by state

Coronavirus in New York.: Outbreak will spread in city, officials warn (The New York Times)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) demands CDC improve protocols after release of San Antonio patient who tested 'weakly positive' for coronavirus (KSAT)

Oklahoma lawmakers divided on how to pay for Medicaid expansion (The Oklahoman)

 

The Hill op-eds

Coronavirus, respiratory droplets -- and you

Protecting Americans from infectious disease threats, today and tomorrow