Overnight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight
Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.
Joe Biden detailed his plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic as the U.S. approached its July peak in cases. A new study suggests masks can save 130,000 lives, and Anthony Fauci said Trump listens to Scott Atlas more than him.
We’ll start with Biden:
Following the debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus, and further details his plan
Joe Biden’s focus on the coronavirus in the closing days of the campaign was clear on Friday, as he quickly followed up Thursday night’s debate with a speech on his response to the virus.
In putting forward some further details of his proposals to fight the virus, Biden called for a dramatic increase in the nation’s testing.
“I’ll put a national testing plan in place with the goal of testing as many people each day as we’re currently testing each week, a sevenfold increase,” Biden said Friday.
“There’s a key difference in this campaign between Donald Trump and me: I believe in testing,” he added. “Donald Trump does not. I believe in science.”
Further steps he outlined:
- Calling on the new Congress to put a bill with resources to fight the virus on his desk by the end of January, “to see how both our public health and our economic response can be seen through the end.”
- Urging every governor to implement a mask mandate, and if they refuse, turning to local officials.
- Ramping up production of personal protective equipment for health workers
Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives by spring
Universal mask-wearing could prevent nearly 130,000 deaths from COVID-19 through the end of February, according to new research released Friday.
The analysis, published in the journal Nature Medicine, found that even if only 85 percent of the population wore masks in public, nearly 96,000 lives could be saved.
The study painted a grim picture of the coming months. Even if physical distancing mandates were in place in every state, researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected more than 500,000 people could die by March.
The most optimistic scientists do not predict the availability of new coronavirus treatments before 2021, and a vaccine might not be widely available until April at the earliest.
That means until there is a vaccine, masks and other non-pharmaceutical measures such as physical distancing are the only real ways to reduce transmission of the virus.
The findings match what public health officials have been saying for months, but mask-wearing is still controversial. Only 49 percent of Americans said they always wear a mask in public.
Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight
It’s a familiar cycle — with no deal in sight, it’s all about making sure someone else gets blamed.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is blaming the impasse on President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), accusing the GOP leaders of failing to put forth a package big enough to address the historic pandemic.
Republicans say it is Pelosi who wants to keep Trump from getting a victory.
Fauci: Trump has not been to a task force meeting in months
During an interview on “Meet the Press Daily,” the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said he hasn’t directly interacted with or spoken to Trump in some time.
“I definitely don’t have his ear as much as Scott Atlas right now, that has been a changing situation,” Fauci said.
Fauci’s remarks echo those of Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, who also sits on the task force. Collins told NPR in an interview earlier this week that Trump has primarily received his information from Vice President Mike Pence and Atlas.
Scott Atlas is a neuroradiologist and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank. He was added to the task force over the summer after appearing frequently on Fox News.
Atlas has emerged as one of Trump’s most influential advisers, but he has come under fire from public health experts inside and outside the administration who accuse him of feeding the president — and the public — misinformation, especially about herd immunity.
Fauci said that during the spring, the task force would meet almost every day, but once the focus of the White House shifted to the economics of reopening the country, the frequency of official task force meetings has dropped to once a week.
Coronavirus infections are spiking: US reaches second-highest daily total of cases
The United States on Thursday reported at least 75,049 new coronavirus cases, the second-highest daily total across the country since the onset of the pandemic, according a database from The New York Times.
There has been an average of 62,166 cases per day over the past week, an increase of 32 percent from the average two weeks earlier.
The spike is the highest daily count since July, when more than 77,000 infections were recorded in one day.
Meanwhile, President Trump insists that the virus will just disappear, and the country is on the right path to eradicating it very soon.
“We’re not entering a dark winter. We’re entering the final turn and approaching the light at the end of the tunnel,” Trump said at an event in Florida on Friday, echoing what he said on the debate stage.
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine trial resumes in US; J&J’s to start soon
AstraZeneca announced on Friday that the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the company to restart its phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial in the U.S.
The company has said the FDA has reviewed all data and concluded that it is safe to resume the trial. It expects results from its trials later this year.
“The restart of clinical trials across the world is great news as it allows us to continue our efforts to develop this vaccine to help defeat this terrible pandemic,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement. “We should be reassured by the care taken by independent regulators to protect the public and ensure the vaccine is safe before it is approved for use.”
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson said it will resume recruitment in the U.S. trial for a coronavirus vaccine. In a statement, the company said preparations to resume the trial in the United States, including submissions for approval by the Institutional Review Boards, are now underway, following consultation with the Food and Drug Administration.
Virtual Event Announcement: COVID-19 & A Responsive Rx Supply Chain
The pandemic has led to an unprecedented demand for medicines. As a consequence, concerns and fears have arisen surrounding drug availability and shortages. What are stakeholders doing to ensure that disruptions do not occur, especially as we head into flu season and colder weather? And what plans are being put in place for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine once available? On Tuesday, October 27th at 1:00 PM ET, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), headline “COVID-19 & A Responsive Rx Supply Chain.” RSVP today for event reminders.
What we’re reading:
Trump ramps up rallies, bucking health guidelines as virus rages (Bloomberg)
A powerful argument for wearing a mask, in visual form (The Washington Post)
Did Trump confuse the public option with Medicare for All? (PolitiFact)
State by state:
How Missourians did an end-around their conservative legislature to expand Medicaid (ABC News)
How Wisconsin’s COVID-19 epidemic became one of the worst in the US (Vox)
Trump mentions Arizona’s COVID-19 spike, saying it’s now gone. But state faces fastest spread since June (Arizona Republic)
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