Overnight Health Care: Administration restores some CDC data amid outcry | Masks win political momentum despite GOP holdouts | New record for deaths in Florida

Overnight Health Care: Administration restores some CDC data amid outcry | Masks win political momentum despite GOP holdouts | New record for deaths in Florida
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Welcome to Thursday's Overnight Health Care.

The Trump administration restored some COVID hospitalization data to the CDC, but won't be updating it. Florida hit a record number of deaths, and masks are gaining political momentum in both parties, despite a few vocal GOP holdouts.

Let's start with the data:

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The CDC data saga continues: The administration restored some COVID-19 hospitalization data to the CDC website

The Trump administration on Thursday restored previously public data on COVID-19 hospitalizations after it disappeared from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website on Wednesday.

The administration quietly changed its reporting rules, and as of Wednesday, information on availability of hospital beds and intensive care units is now being sent from hospitals directly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) instead of to the CDC.

The change sparked an outcry from public health experts, who are suspicious that the Trump administration is trying to sideline the CDC. 

As a result of that change, the information that was previously posted on CDC's website disappeared. 

In a statement to The Hill, HHS assistant secretary of public affairs Michael Caputo said CDC was directed to make the data available again.

Big caveat: The dashboard only includes data through July 14. A notice on the webpage states the file will not be updated. Caputo said that "going forward" the new database will deliver "more powerful insights on the coronavirus." 

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Read more here

Masks win political momentum despite GOP holdouts

The political momentum behind mask mandates is growing quickly, with more governors in both parties issuing orders that people wear face coverings in public and major retailers uniting behind them.

Cloth masks or face coverings are now required in public in about half of the states, but some governors — mostly Republicans — are still resisting calls to issue statewide mandates, leading to a patchwork of rules across the country. 

Public health experts for several weeks now have pushed for states to issue masking requirements to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help Americans to return to some semblance of normalcy as the search for a vaccine continues.

Where it's happening: As cases continue to increase in dozens of states, governors have embraced mandates they once opposed in desperate attempts to curb rising infection and hospitalization rates. 

In the past week, Republican governors in Alabama and Arkansas and Democrats in Colorado and Louisiana issued new rules requiring masks be worn in public when social distancing isn’t possible. Mandates in Montana and Mississippi also took effect this week in dozens of counties. 

Walmart, the largest retailer in the country, announced this week it would require masks in its stores, along with CVS, Best Buy and others, further shooting the idea into the mainstream.

Read more here.

Read about the new statewide mask orders in Arkansas and Colorado  

More bad news from Florida: A new record number of deaths

Florida’s health department reported 156 coronavirus deaths Thursday, surpassing a record the state set just days before. 

The new deaths bring the state’s total to 4,677 deaths related to COVID-19, based on state data.

Florida’s health department also reported 13,965 new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases across the state to 315,775.

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As cases increase across the state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisMarlee Matlin: 'Unfathomable' that White House doesn't have sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Florida sheriff bans deputies from wearing masks after refusing to enforce order DeSantis rules out 2024 White House run: 'Total garbage' MORE (R) has not reimposed most coronavirus restrictions. Nonessential businesses remain open across the state with some restrictions in place — bars were ordered to stop serving alcohol — and there is no statewide order requiring face coverings in public. 

Read more here

IG report finds Trump health official broke rules with communications contracts

A federal inspector general report finds that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and its chief, Seema Verma, violated rules around the management of contracts with GOP-aligned communications consultants.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General, in a report issued on Thursday, found that CMS improperly "allowed a subcontractor individual to perform inherently governmental functions, such as making managerial decisions and directing CMS employees," as part of $6.4 million in strategic communications contracts. 

The report finds that the communications consultants, from firms including Porter Novelli and Nahigian Strategies, performed some tasks that the government already had employees in the Office of Communications to perform, including "writing social media" and "National media pitching for Administrator."

Verma pushes back: Verma said the report was based on "unsubstantiated assumptions and incomplete analyses.”

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Read more here.

Trump health officials to recommend against retesting COVID-19 patients

Top Trump administration officials are preparing guidance that will recommend people who test positive for COVID-19 do not need to get retested to prove they no longer have the disease.

The move, previewed in a call with reporters by the administration's testing coordinator Brett Giroir, comes as the U.S. testing system faces severe strains and a national backlog of results.

“This is a remnant of very early on when we had cruise ships and people in quarantine that said the first way to get out of quarantine was to have two negative tests 24 hours apart,” Giroir told reporters Thursday. “That is no longer needed, and it is medically unnecessary.” 

The upcoming guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will represent a major change in ensuring people with COVID-19 don't spread the disease. 

Read more here.

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Nearly 1,000 coronavirus cases in California linked to daycare centers

Nearly 1,000 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at California day care facilities since mid-March, according to data obtained by a Bay Area NBC affiliate.

There were 998 positive tests that occurred between May 11 and July 12, and positive cases in day care facilities are up 12 percent since last week, according to the state Department of Social Services. The cases included staff, children and parents in more than 38,000 facilities.

Los Angeles, which kept the most facilities open of any part of the state during the pandemic, also leads in cases originating in child care facilities, with 170, while Santa Clara County in the Bay Area had 28 cases.

Child care services interviewed by the outlet said they maintained a “cohort system” during the pandemic, in which children stay in groups of 10 to 12, with parents restricted from entering the facility and required temperature checks and questionnaires upon entry.

However, even facilities implementing these precautions have not been immune.

Read more here.

The Hill event

Diabetes & The COVID Threat.

The coronavirus pandemic is presenting new challenges for the 34 million Americans living with diabetes. On Thursday, July 23, The Hill Virtually Live hosts "Diabetes and the COVID Threat" to discuss effective diabetes care during the time of COVID-19. Reps. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteIt's past time to be rid of the legacy of Jesse Helms Diabetes Caucus co-chairs say telehealth expansion to continue beyond pandemic The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin previews GOP coronavirus relief package MORE (D-CO) and Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedHouse approves two child care bills aimed at pandemic Diabetes Caucus co-chairs say telehealth expansion to continue beyond pandemic The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin previews GOP coronavirus relief package MORE (R-NY), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Diabetes and a panel of health experts join The Hill's Steve Clemons. RSVP Today

What we’re reading

U.S. Says Russian Hackers Are Trying To Steal Coronavirus Vaccine Research (NPR

NIH Director Francis Collins defends Fauci amid White House criticism (Stat News

How a Struggling Company Won $1.6 Billion to Make a Coronavirus Vaccine (New York Times 

State by state

'Epicenter of the epicenter': Young people partying in Miami Beach despite COVID-19 threat (USA Today)

Florida emergency workers test positive for COVID-19 (Politico)  

DC, Maryland, Virginia report another large jump in coronavirus cases (WTOP)

The Hill op-eds

Americans want evidence and data to drive COVID decisions — they don't believe it's happening

Teachers' unions balk at reopening schools, hurting country and Trump