Overnight Health Care: The latest on coronavirus deaths | Oxford researchers report positive results from early vaccine trial | Trump to resume COVID-19 briefings

Overnight Health Care: The latest on coronavirus deaths | Oxford researchers report positive results from early vaccine trial | Trump to resume COVID-19 briefings
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Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care. Oxford researchers are reporting positive results from an early vaccine trial. The Trump administration restored public access to key coronavirus hospital data after uproar from public health experts and others. And Democratic attorneys general have sued the Trump administration over its rollback of LGBTQ health protections. 

First, let’s dig into the data on COVID-19 deaths.

What’s the situation with coronavirus deaths?

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There’s been a lot of discussion about deaths from coronavirus recently, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE pointing to the numbers as a silver lining in a worsening coronavirus outbreak. 

And it is true that for weeks, daily coronavirus deaths nationally were dropping. But now they are rising again. 

The bottom line: Deaths are ticking back up nationally, and are rising especially in the hardest-hit states. But the situation is not as bad as it was at the peak of deaths in April, and there is some hope that the outbreak hitting younger people more, as well as improved treatments, will lead to fewer fatalities. 

The numbers: After reaching a peak of more than 2,000 deaths per day in late April, driven in large part by the fierce outbreak in New York and the Northeast, coronavirus deaths per day dropped down to about 500 per day in early July, according to the Covid Tracking Project. 

But since then, the numbers are ticking back up, to about 800 deaths per day, as outbreaks worsen particularly across the South and Southwest. 

In the hard-hit states, the numbers are even worse. Florida hit a record 156 deaths on July 16, according to the Covid Tracking Project, up from less than 50 per day in early July. Texas is now averaging over 100 per day, up from less than 50 earlier this month as well. And Arizona hit a record of 147 deaths on July 18. 

Why it might not get as bad as April again nationally: It remains to be seen what will happen because deaths lag behind cases and hospitalizations, given that it takes time for people to die after catching the disease. 

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But there are two particular reasons for hope: 

  • A younger on average pool of people getting the disease, as older people take more precautions, 
  • New drugs, including remdesivir and dexamethasone

“It is clear that the death rate is rising,” said Barry Bloom, a professor a the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The question is could it be as bad as it was in New York? And I think many of us are hopeful that it will not be.”

Oxford researchers report positive results from early vaccine trial

A coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University showed positive results in early trials, triggering an immune response, researchers said Monday.

"The immune responses observed following vaccination are in line with what we expect will be associated with protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, although we must continue with our rigorous clinical trial programme to confirm this," Andrew Pollard, a professor at Oxford working on the trial, said in a statement.

The researchers published results in the journal The Lancet on Monday, showing the potential vaccine triggered responses in both parts of the immune system, increasing antibody levels and T-cell levels.

Why it matters: The Oxford vaccine is one of the furthest along of a wide range of vaccines being developed. Oxford researchers have even previously said it is possible it could be ready this fall, an extremely ambitious timetable.

Read more here.

They’re baaaack: Trump to resume COVID-19 briefings

President Trump on Monday said he will resume giving regular coronavirus briefings this week, reviving a practice that is controversial among some aides as infections surge across the United States.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office he would deliver a briefing at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. It would mark his first time participating in a coronavirus briefing since late April.

Trump signaled the briefings would be heavily focused on the development of a vaccine and drugs to treat the virus, which has advanced significantly since he last held regular media sessions on the pandemic. He told reporters he may invite the heads of the companies involved in vaccine development to speak to the press.

Flashback to why they stopped: The previous briefings regularly devolved into Trump bashing governors, sparring with the press and making factually inaccurate statements that undercut the federal government's overall messaging.

The appearances abruptly ended in late April days after Trump sparked widespread backlash by suggesting scientists study whether the injection of light or disinfectants into the body could be used as a cure for the virus.

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Read more here

Also back-- coronavirus hospitalization data  

The Trump administration has restored public access to coronavirus data reported by hospitals to the federal government, after an outcry over missing data and controversy over a change in the agency that collects it.

The information is now being published on the Department of Health and Human Services' site, HHS Protect

HHS last week instructed hospitals to change how they report certain coronavirus data to the government, bypassing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and instead sending it to HHS directly. The new HHS database is run by a private contractor called TeleTracking, which was awarded a $10 million contract in April. 

The move sparked an outcry from outside health groups that feared the CDC was being sidelined, and raised the concern of political interference. 

HHS on Monday said all the information is public, and there are multiple safeguards in place to prevent interference. For instance, all data is recorded and time stamped before it is accessible, and changes are tracked. 

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The change was necessary because officials thought CDC's system was too slow, and wasn't able to keep up with the constantly changing information about the virus.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar echoed that complaint during a call with governors on Monday, saying the existing CDC system was only providing data for half of the hospital systems around the country and could not be adapted quickly enough to respond to the pace of crisis.

After months of resisting, Trump tweets photo of himself wearing a mask

President Trump on Monday tweeted for the first time a photograph of himself wearing a mask and described the practice as a patriotic act amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance,” Trump tweeted Monday afternoon, referring to the coronavirus, which the president regularly points out originated in Wuhan, China.

“There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!” he added.

Trump for months resisted wearing a mask in public before donning one during a trip to Walter Reed less than two weeks ago. 

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Read more here

Democratic AGs sue Trump administration over LGBTQ health protections rollback

A coalition of 23 Democratic state attorneys general are suing the Trump administration over a rule that scraps ObamaCare's nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ patients.

Led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, New York Attorney Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraCampaigns accuse California AG of slanted descriptions of ballot initiatives California sues Trump administration to mandate undocumented immigrants are counted for apportionment OVERNIGHT ENERGY: 20 states sue over Trump rule limiting states from blocking pipeline projects | House Democrats add 'forever chemicals' provisions to defense bill after spiking big amendment | Lawmakers seek extension for tribes to spend stimulus money MORE, the lawsuit alleges that the new rule allows providers and insurers to discriminate against certain vulnerable and protected populations.

The administration's rule, released in June, will roll back implementation of the Affordable Care Act's Section 1557, which prohibits federally funded health programs and facilities from discriminating against patients based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age.

Advocates and health groups said the policy will make it easier for doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to deny care or coverage to transgender and nonbinary patients, as well as women who have had abortions.

Read more here.  

The Hill event

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 DeGetteDiabetes 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 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump-the-briefer struggles with COVID-19 facts 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

During coronavirus lockdowns, some doctors wondered: where are the preemies? (The New York Times

The crisis that shocked the world: America’s response to the coronavirus (The Washington Post)

For covid tests, the question of who pays comes down to interpretation (Kaiser Health News)  

State by state

How masks protected dozens of clients of 2 hairdressers in Missouri from catching COVID-19 (CBS News)  

‘If It’s Here, It’s Here’: America’s Retirees Confront the Virus in Florida (New York Times)

85 infants under age 1 have tested positive for coronavirus in one Texas county since March (CNN 

Op-eds

The federal government must pay for distribution of the COVID vaccine

How to get a COVID-19 vaccine faster

Republican governors are failing with their coronavirus responses

Coronavirus — the uncertain path ahead, and a guiding voice of reason