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Overnight Health Care: US coronavirus deaths hit 200,000 | Ginsburg's death puts future of ObamaCare at risk | Federal panel delays vote on initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Overnight Health Care: US coronavirus deaths hit 200,000 | Ginsburg's death puts future of ObamaCare at risk | Federal panel delays vote on initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Health Care. 

The U.S. has passed another grim milestone: 200,000 COVID-19 deaths. Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage Clean energy opportunities in a time of crisis Trump when asked if he'd be kinder in his second term: 'Yes, I think so' MORE’s death puts ObamaCare at risk. A federal advisory panel delayed a vote on COVID vaccine priorities, and the CDC advises against going trick-or-treating this year. 

Let’s start with COVID-19 deaths. 

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U.S. hits coronavirus death toll hits 200,000 

The U.S. coronavirus death toll, already the largest in the world, hit 200,000 on Tuesday amid the eighth month of the pandemic.

Data from Johns Hopkins University confirms that the total number of fatalities reached 200,558, while the total number of cases nears 7 million. Globally, there are more than 31 million confirmed cases and a total of 965,893 fatalities.

“Every American’s heart breaks for the more than 200,000 men, women and children who have lost their lives to the coronavirus in our country,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump predicts GOP will win the House Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | On The Money: Pelosi cites progress, but says COVID-19 relief deal might be post-election | Eviction crisis sparked by pandemic disproportionately hits minorities | Weekly jobless claims fall to 787K MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement. 

“The horrific human toll of this deadly virus is all the more wrenching for its senselessness; it did not have to be this way," she added. “The President’s contempt for science, governance and the health of the American people has led to an historic national tragedy.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday acknowledged the death toll only when pressed about it, and said without Trump's actions the numbers could have been far worse because some models predicted over 2 million deaths.

"We grieve when even one life is lost," she added. "But the fact that we have come nowhere near that number is a testament to this president taking immediate action."

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Read more on Kayleigh's comments here.

White House seeks to change subject from 200K COVID-19 deaths

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE's response to the mounting death toll has been to largely ignore it, or to try to paint the pandemic in a much rosier picture.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday, but the grim milestone passed without too much of a comment from a White House more focused on the battle over the Supreme Court.

Trump used a recorded speech to the annual United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to condemn China for unleashing “the plague onto the world” but did not mention the fact that the U.S. was nearing 200,000 deaths. The U.S. passed that marker a couple hours later.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany opened her briefing about 90 minutes later with an attack on Democrats about the battle to nominate a successor to liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

When asked if Trump planned to acknowledge the 200,000 milestone either on Twitter or at his Tuesday night rally, McEnany did not answer, but argued the president had expressed his condolences “throughout this pandemic.”

Trump did not mention the death toll from the coronavirus at his Monday evening rally in Swanton, Ohio, where many in the crowd were not wearing masks. Members of the crowd earlier in the night booed Lt. Gov. Jon Husted after the Republican urged people to put on their masks, which were branded with Trump campaign messages. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWineMike DeWineOhio breaks record for single-day increase in COVID-19 cases Travel industry calls on Trump administration to prevent the need for quarantines by creating a testing plan Why isn't the Trump campaign airing TV ads in Ohio? MORE (R), who earlier this year locked down much of the state to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, also received a mix of cheers and boos at the rally.

Read more here,

Justice Ginsburg's death puts future of ObamaCare at risk

ObamaCare still might not be struck down, but it’s certainly more likely now.

The high court will hear arguments on Nov. 10 in a lawsuit brought by a group of Republican-led states, and backed by President Trump, seeking to strike down the law. Before Ginsburg’s death, the court’s four liberals plus Chief Justice John Roberts, who has twice upheld the law already, were expected to provide the five votes to keep the law.

The key dynamic: Now, with only three liberals on the court, the swing vote shifts to Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughClean energy opportunities in a time of crisis Susan Collins and the American legacy The Senate should evoke RBG in its confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett MORE, an appointee of Trump and a less sure bet to uphold ObamaCare.

“I certainly don’t feel like the law is entirely safe if Kavanaugh is the swing vote,” said Katie Keith, a health law expert at Georgetown University.

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In the campaign: Vulnerable Republicans are dodging on where they stand on the lawsuit. For example, Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDemocrats seek to block appeal of court ruling ousting Pendley, BLM land plans Senate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave Cunningham, Tillis locked in tight race in North Carolina: poll MORE (R-Colo.), facing a tough reelection race, released an ad this month featuring his mother who had cancer saying: “Cory wrote the bill to guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, forever.”

“No matter what happens to ObamaCare,” Gardner adds in the ad.

The bill in question was introduced by Gardner last month and does not have any co-sponsors. It would restore some of ObamaCare’s protections for pre-existing conditions if the law is struck down, but it would not prevent insurers from simply denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions in the first place.

Read more here

Federal panel delays vote on initial COVID-19 vaccine distribution

A federal advisory committee on Tuesday discussed but did not formally recommend who should get the initial doses of a limited COVID-19 vaccine when it's available.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was expected to vote on prioritization but is now waiting until more data becomes available.

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During the committee's meeting, ACIP Chairman Jose Romero said a subgroup will review Phase 3 clinical trial data once companies make it available, and then present recommendations to the full committee.

The next scheduled committee meeting is in late October. By then, more information will be available.

Right now, it's hard to plan for distribution without knowing which vaccine to plan for because the characteristics differ. Without knowing which vaccine has been approved, states can't know who it would be most effective for, who can reasonably access it and how to maintain physical distancing if people line up to receive it. Some vaccines have very different logistical requirements. 

Read more here.

Fauci warns of fall coronavirus dangers: 'We are entering into a risk period'

As the weather gets colder, the warnings are ramping up about the risks of fall.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump, Biden clash over coronavirus response, mounting death toll Stahl tells Pence he and Trump 'insulted 60 Minutes' by giving 'campaign speeches' How Trump lost to the coronavirus MORE, the U.S.’s top infectious diseases expert, warned Tuesday that the country is “entering into a risk period” for rising coronavirus infections as fall begins.

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Asked by CNN’s Sanjay Gupta “how bad … this could get” in the fall, Fauci responded, “It’s always the balance of trying not to frighten people at the same time of trying to jolt them into a realization of what needs to be done to protect themselves as individuals and the country.”

“We are entering into a risk period and we’ve got to act accordingly as we enter into that risk period,” Fauci said.

He urged people to keep wearing masks, washing their hands, distancing and avoiding crowds.

Read more here

CDC advises against traditional trick-or-treating during COVID-19

With Halloween around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising against "higher risk activities" that could contribute to the spread of COVID-19, including traditional trick-or-treating, indoor costume parties and visiting haunted houses.

“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” the CDC wrote in guidance published Monday.

“There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween,” the guidance reads, before listing “lower risk” activities, like pumpkin carving with members of your household.

The CDC also released general guidelines for fall and winter holidays including Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, with considerations for traveling as well as hosting and attending gatherings.

The CDC divides various activities into three categories of low, moderate, or higher risk, with virtual events or indoor activities involving household members as the safest. Small outdoor gatherings with friends and family in the community with social distancing and masking are moderate risk, while crowded, indoor activities with no mask-wearing are higher risk, according to the guidance.

Read more here

What we’re reading: 

Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks and swabs to make jet engine parts and body armor (Washington Post

Charting the pandemic over the next 12 months (STAT

Where did the 200,000 COVID-19 victims die? A growing share in smaller towns (NPR)

State news: 

California’s deadliest spring in 20 years suggests COVID undercount (Kaiser Health News

Central Ohio already preparing COVID-19 vaccine plans (The Columbus Dispatch)

Miami School Board votes for later soft school opening Oct. 14, full opening Oct. 21 (Miami Herald)