Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Trump testing czar says rise in cases is real | Obama rips Trump's pandemic response | CDC: Increasing numbers of adults say they wear masks

Welcome to Tuesday's Overnight Health Care, with one week to Election Day.

The Trump administration is taking credit for ending the coronavirus pandemic. The problem, of course, is that the pandemic is getting worse and cases are spiking. Former President Obama hit the trail in Florida slamming President Trump on his response, and Eli Lilly ended a clinical trial of an experimental antibody treatment.

But we'll start with a Trump administration official's take on the numbers:

Trump administration testing czar: Rise in cases is 'real,' not just from more testing

Testing czar Brett Giroir certainly has a different tune from President Trump on the increase in cases. 

Giroir said Tuesday that the country's increase in coronavirus cases is not just because of more testing but also a surge in the disease across the country.

"Testing may be identifying some more cases, I think that's clearly true, but what we're seeing is a real increase in the numbers," Giroir said at a Washington Post Live event.

"Compared to the post-Memorial Day surge, even though testing is up, this is a real increase in cases," he added.

Contrast with Trump: "Cases up because we TEST, TEST, TEST," the president tweeted Monday. "A Fake News Media Conspiracy. Many young people who heal very fast. 99.9%. Corrupt Media conspiracy at all time high. On November 4th., topic will totally change. VOTE!"

Experts have widely said the increase is not just because of more testing and debunked this claim back when Trump said it over the summer. It's now back. 

Read more here

On the campaign trail, Obama rips Trump's pandemic response: 'He's jealous of COVID's media coverage'

With one week until Election Day, former President Obama ripped into President Trump on the response to coronavirus. 

Obama made his second stop in recent days in Florida in an attempt to deliver the swing state for Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The Biden campaign has made Trump's management of the public health crisis a centerpiece of his campaign, and Obama unleashed on the president at a drive-in rally in Orlando.

"What's his closing argument? That people are too focused on COVID," Obama said, referencing what has become a staple of Trump's rallies and Twitter feed.

"He said this at one of his rallies. 'COVID, COVID, COVID,' he's complaining," Obama said. "He's jealous of COVID's media coverage."

Trump has, indeed, increasingly complained that the media is spending too much time covering the pandemic that has killed more than 220,000 people in America this year.

"Until November 4th., Fake News Media is going full on Covid, Covid, Covid," he tweeted earlier Tuesday.

Read more here

Eyebrow-raising: White House science office says Trump ended COVID-19 pandemic as US hits record cases

The White House science office listed "ending the COVID-19 pandemic" as the top accomplishment of President Trump's first term, even as the U.S. has set records for new daily infections and numerous hospitals across the country are stretched to their breaking points.

According to a press release intending to highlight the administration's science accomplishments, the Trump administration said it "has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease."

The rosy outlook flies in the face of reality and underscores the continuous efforts of Trump to try to downplay the severity of the pandemic that continues to rage nearly uncontrolled across the country. 

The reality: As of Tuesday, more than 226,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. The seven-day average of new cases is nearly 70,000, a record number that is only expected to get worse. Hospitalizations and deaths are also climbing steadily upward. According to the COVID Tracking Project, there are more than 42,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19, up from about 30,000 just a month ago.

Read more here.

NIH halts study of Eli Lilly antibody drug for treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Federal researchers have ended a study into the effectiveness of Eli Lilly's antibody treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients due to a lack of effectiveness.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is funding the study, announced late Monday that an independent monitoring board found little clinical benefit in the treatment and recommended that it be stopped.

The study had been paused earlier this month due to a potential safety issue, but the NIAID said the monitoring board's decision was driven by lack of clinical benefit.

Implication: The study was designed to evaluate Eli Lilly's neutralizing antibody as a treatment for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. So the decision to end it is not likely to impact the Food and Drug Administration's review of Lilly's application for an emergency use authorization of the antibody drug for outpatient use in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. 

Read more here.

CDC: Increasing numbers of adults say they wear masks

As the coronavirus pandemic has worn on, an increasing percentage of adults have reported wearing face masks in an effort to combat the spread, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But, while mask-wearing has gone up, all other reported mitigation behaviors like hand washing, physical distancing and avoiding public or crowded places slightly decreased or remained unchanged.

The CDC surveyed people in April, May and June, and found the use of face masks increased from 78 percent in April to 83 percent in May and reached 89 percent in June.

At each survey point, more younger adults, those between the ages of 18 and 29, said they did not follow the mitigation strategies as strictly as adults older than 60. 

Still, among adults who reported face mask use at each time point, a significantly higher percentage reported other mitigation behaviors compared with those who did not report mask use.

Read more here.

In non-COVID news: Colon cancer screening should begin at age 45, not 50, US task force says

A key panel of experts on Tuesday recommended for the first time that people get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45, instead of age 50, pointing to new evidence of the cancer in younger people. 

The recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force comes after American Cancer Society recommended the same age change in 2018.

The draft recommendation is open for comment until Nov. 23. 

The task force especially recommended the earlier screening for Black patients, given higher rates of the disease among Black people. 

"New science about colorectal cancer in younger people has enabled us to expand our recommendation to screen all adults starting at age 45, especially Black adults who are more likely to die from this disease," Michael Barry, a member of the task force, said in a statement. "Screening earlier will help prevent more people from dying from colorectal cancer." 

Read more here

What we're reading

The outbreak is so bad in Belgium, some COVID-positive doctors are being asked to keep working (CNN)

Pfizer's late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial is near complete enrollment with 42,000 volunteers (CNBC)

Three Western states join California in screening any FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine (San Francisco Chronicle

State by state 

Several Colorado counties move to tighter restrictions as coronavirus cases rise (CPR News)

Health care workers in Michigan criticize Trump's rally amid record Covid cases (CNBC)

Utah coronavirus cases up 1,145 on Tuesday, as more schools shift online (Salt Lake Tribune)

Why North and South Dakota are suffering the worst COVID-19 epidemics in the US (Vox)

The Hill op-eds

COVID-19 vaccine distribution should consider both demand and supply

It's time to rethink our standard approach to pain management in cancer care