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Fact check: No, the media didn’t suddenly change its reporting on coronavirus immunity after Trump got infected

The story goes like this: The media had always said that people who survived a Covid-19 infection would be immune from the virus for life. But once he, Trump, got infected and survived, the media started claiming immunity only lasted for months.

“And until I came along — you know, you used to hear you have immunity for life, right? As soon as I had it and got better, they were not too happy about that…It was supposed to be for life; when it was me, they said it’s only good for four months, okay? Okay. Anybody else it’s for life, with Trump they said it’s four months. So they brought it down now, immunity, from life to four months,” Trump said at his Tuesday rally in Lansing, Michigan.
Trump told a similar story at his Tuesday rally in Omaha, Nebraska: “But because it was me, the press said, ‘No, it’s not for a lifetime. It’s only for four months. The immunity is only now for four months.’ They brought it down, right? It was always gonna be for a lifetime, now it’s four months.”

Trump said much the same thing at a Wednesday rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, this time adding that “they’ve changed the whole medical standard” because of his own infection.

Facts First: Trump’s story is false. In the months before Trump tested positive for Covid-19 in early October, numerous major media outlets had reported that scientists were not yet sure how long survivors might have immunity. While we can’t definitively say there was no media report whatsoever from before Trump’s infection that had claimed survivors would get lifetime immunity, it was certainly not widely reported that survivors were immune for life.

A CNN fact check in July concluded: “It remains unclear if those already infected with the virus are immune to any reinfection. Additionally, it’s unknown how long any sort of immunity would last.” A CNN story in mid-August was headlined, “Are you immune to Covid-19 for three months after recovering? It’s not clear.” And CNN wrote in August about a Nevada man who was infected with the virus twice — quoting Mark Pandori, the director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, as saying: “After one recovers from COVID-19, we still do not know how much immunity is built up, how long it may last, or how well antibodies play a role in protection against a reinfection.”

Even upbeat media stories about optimistic findings about immunity noted that the facts had not been conclusively settled.

For example, an August article in the New York Times said that “scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the coronavirus for months are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of Covid-19, a flurry of new studies has found.” But that piece continued by saying that “researchers cannot forecast how long these immune responses will last.”
The Washington Post also made clear in August that “researchers
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White House admits report that listed ‘ending’ COVID pandemic as Trump accomplishment was ‘poorly worded’

The White House acknowledged on Wednesday that a report touting the “ending of the COVID-19 pandemic” as one of the Trump administration’s accomplishments was “poorly worded.”

“I think that was poorly worded,” White House communications director Alyssa Farah said on Fox News. “The intent was to say that it is our goal to end the virus.”

On Tuesday, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy published a 62-page report outlining what it called “highlights” in “Advancing America’s Global Leadership in Science & Technology” over the past four years. The “ending of the COVID-19 pandemic” was among them. 

The pandemic has not ended. 

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses thousands of supporters during a campaign rally at Capital Region International Airport October 27, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Trump at a campaign rally in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Trump has repeatedly sought to downplay the seriousness of the virus while defending his handling of the pandemic. In the most recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, 62 percent of Americans identified “managing COVID” as a “major failure” of the administration. Exactly half that number listed it as a “major accomplishment.”

As cases continue to surge in the Upper Midwest, including states Trump is expected to win easily, the president has complained that the media is too focused on covering the outbreak rather than his accomplishments.

“Covid, Covid, Covid is the unified chant of the Fake News Lamestream Media,” he tweeted Wednesday. “They will talk about nothing else until November 4th, when the Election will be (hopefully!) over. Then the talk will be how low the death rate is, plenty of hospital rooms, & many tests of young people.”

More than 226,000 Americans have died of complications related to COVID-19, and more than 8.6 million have been infected since the outbreak began.

And health officials in several states, including Idaho, Texas and Utah, are reporting that hospitals are at or above capacity.

Trump has also falsely said the United States is “rounding the corner” on the coronavirus. Last week the country set a new daily record for coronavirus cases, with 83,757 on Oct. 23.

On Fox, Farah tried to explain the president’s statement.

“We’re still in the midst of the pandemic,” she said. “We’re turning the corner, and what we mean by that is, we’re rushing therapeutics, we’re in the best place to treat the virus that we’ve ever been in.”

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Melania Trump talks Covid diagnosis in solo campaign event

Melania Trump made her first solo appearance of the campaign Tuesday in Pennsylvania, where she touted her “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign before charging that Joe Biden would “destroy America” as president.

The first lady opened her remarks, which came as her husband has been trying to woo back suburban women, by referring to her family’s battle with the coronavirus this month.

“We are all feeling so much better now thanks to healthy living and some of the amazing therapeutic options available in our country — thank you again for your well wishes!” she told group of about 200 mostly masked supporters in a barn in Atglen.

The rally Tuesday was the first lady’s first in more than a year. She was supposed to make a campaign appearance in Pennsylvania last week but it was postponed because of a “lingering cough” from the virus that also infected her husband and their son Barron.

Mrs. Trump offered a much softer message on the virus than the president, who has dismissed its threat at recent campaign appearances, repeatedly insisting that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic.

“I know there are many people who have lost loved ones or know people who have been forever impacted by this silent enemy — my family’s thoughts and prayers are with all of you through this difficult time,” she said, calling for unity in combatting the virus.

“I believe in our incredible doctors, nurses, medical professionals and scientists,” Mrs. Trump said. She also urged Americans to “remember to follow CDC guidelines so that together we can minimize the spread of the virus until a vaccine can be developed” — even though her husband has routinely flouted those guidelines with his campaign rallies and fundraisers.

Trump also praised her husband’s tweeting — but not his tweets.

“For the first time in history, the citizens of this country get to hear directly and instantly from their president every single day through social media. I don’t always agree the way he says things, but it is important to him that he speaks directly to the people he serves,” Trump said.

She also promoted her “Be Best” anti-cyberbullying initiative and the “language of love” before taking a page from her husband’s playbook and ripping Biden’s “socialist” policies, the media’s focus on “idle gossip,” and Democrats’ “sham impeachment.”

“Joe Biden’s policies and socialist agenda will only serve to destroy America and all that has been built in the past four years. We must keep Donald in the White House so he can finish what he’s started and our country can continue to flourish,” she said.

Mrs. Trump told the crowd it’s been “the greatest honor and privilege to serve as first lady of this amazing country,” and urged them “to get out and vote on Nov. 3.”

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Trump administration agrees to purchase $375 million of Lilly coronavirus antibody drug

The Trump administration will pay Eli Lilly $375 million to supply 300,000 doses of its experimental antibody drug to treat COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday.

If the Food and Drug Administration authorizes use of the drug, the federal government will allocate the doses to state and territorial health departments which, in turn, will determine which health care facilities receive the drug for use in outpatient care.

Lilly said it anticipates only high-risk patients will be indicated to receive the drug until more studies are completed and more supply is available.

The initial agreement is for delivery over the course of two months following authorization, with the option to purchase up to 650,000 additional doses through the end of June 2021 for up to an additional $812.5 million. 

The government-purchased doses would become available to Americans at no cost, although health care professionals could charge for administering the medicine.

Eli Lilly’s CEO, David Ricks, said the company is allocating the drugs to the countries that need them most, and will commit only to a few months of supply at a time to any given country in order to match demand with the limited supply.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. now leads the world in both COVID-19 cases and deaths. As a result, a top priority is helping reduce disease burden in the U.S.,” Ricks said. 

The rolling, seven-day average of daily cases in the U.S. topped 70,000, according to the COVID Tracking project data. With that many cases a day, the projected supply of the monoclonal antibodies would not be nearly sufficient to meet demand.

Lilly said it anticipates manufacturing up to 1 million doses of its drug by the end of 2020, with 100,000 doses ready to ship within days of authorization.

The agreement with Lilly is part of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed, the initiative created by the administration to fund the quick development and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Ricks said Lilly is pricing the drug at $1,250 per vial in wealthy countries, with a tiered system based on the country’s ability to pay. One vial represents the full course of treatment.

Ricks said the company expects to make a profit, and is pricing the drug “above our marginal cost to produce the medicine in developed markets,” meaning it expects “to produce a modest financial return for our investors by the end of 2021.”

The announcement of the agreement comes a day after Lilly said the drug had no clinical benefit for helping hospitalized patients. The company said it is confident the drug is helpful to those earlier in the course of a COVID-19 infection.

Antibody drugs are experimental, and while doctors think they promise as a potential treatment of COVID-19 and could be a bridge to a vaccine, clinical studies are still ongoing.

But President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had

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Giroir breaks with Trump, says surge in coronavirus cases ‘not just a function of testing’

In fact, the U.S. tallied a single-day record of more than 83,000 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, a new high-water mark as coronavirus has roared back across the country. Public health experts have warned that the fall and winter months will be an especially bleak period for Americans, as the coronavirus converges with the annual flu season.

But at a campaign rally in Michigan on Tuesday, Trump argued that the reason the U.S. has “so many cases” is “because we test more,” adding that “in many ways, I hate” testing.

“We test everybody, and because of that — now, if I tested half, if I said, ‘We are going to cut our testing down in half,’ they’d go crazy because the cases would go down in approximately half, right?” Trump told supporters.

Trump’s remarks come as he has sought to promote misleadingly positive assessments of the pandemic in the final days of the presidential race, returning to his false assertions that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” in its fight against the coronavirus.

Reports emerged over the weekend of another White House coronavirus outbreak among Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday seemingly acknowledged that the administration had given up on its efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. “We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Meadows said.

Giroir disputed that message on Wednesday, saying that although the U.S. was at a “critical point” in its pandemic response, “we can control the virus” through mitigation measures including mask-wearing, hand-washing and avoiding crowded indoor spaces.

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U.S. reports more than 500,000 cases in a week, a record, as the Trump administration says it ended the pandemic.

The United States reported a record of more than 500,000 new cases over the past week, as states and cities resorted to stricter new measures to contain the virus that is raging across the country, especially the American heartland.

The record was broken Tuesday, even as the Trump administration announced what it called its first-term scientific accomplishments, in a press release that included “ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC” written in bold, capital letters.

The record reflects how quickly the virus is spreading. It took nearly three months for the first 500,000 coronavirus cases to be tallied in the United States — the first was confirmed on Jan. 21, and the country did not reach the half-million mark until April 11. Testing was severely limited in the early days of the pandemic.

The new restrictions range from a nightly business curfew in Newark, N.J., to a two-week stay-at-home order in El Paso, Texas, to a halt in indoor dining in Chicago.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Tuesday that he was stopping indoor dining and bar service in Chicago, effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday, Oct. 30.

The city joins New York and Wisconsin, states that earlier this month issued restrictions or outright bans on indoor dining in restaurants and bars to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions have been loudly opposed by a restaurant industry that has been decimated by the pandemic.

Chicago is now averaging more than twice as many coronavirus-related hospital admissions per day as it was a month ago, Mr. Pritzker’s office said, and the share of tests that are coming back positive has almost doubled since the beginning of October.

The U.S. has reported a record daily average of about 71,000 new cases over the past week, an increase of about 40 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Twenty states, including Illinois, have recorded their highest seven-day average of new cases, and three states (Tennessee, Wisconsin and Oklahoma) have set a record seven-day average for deaths. On Tuesday, Oklahoma and Wyoming broke single-day death records and Kentucky reported a new daily cases record.

Mr. Pritzker’s announcement follows a similar indoor dining ban that includes southern Cook County, just outside Chicago, which was announced Monday.

In Chicago, outdoor service will be allowed if tables are spaced six feet apart; reservations are required, and service shuts down at 11 p.m. All social gatherings in the city will be limited to 25 people or 25 percent of the venue’s capacity, whichever is less.

“We can’t ignore what is happening around us,” Mr. Pritzker said in a statement. “Because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring.”

Other communities around the country that have also recently tightened restrictions include:

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Trump official tests positive for COVID-19 after Europe trip



a sign on the side of a building: Trump official tests positive for COVID-19 after Europe trip


© Getty Images
Trump official tests positive for COVID-19 after Europe trip

A senior Trump administration official has tested positive for the coronavirus after a trip to Europe, sparking concerns over transmission of the virus among government personnel.

Peter Berkowitz, the director of policy planning at the State Department, met with officials at 10 Downing Street and the Foreign Office in London. He also had meetings in Paris and in Budapest, with Hungarian State Secretary Peter Sztaray and Deputy State Secretary Ferenc Dancs, earlier this month.

The diagnosis was first reported by The Washington Post, and an official told the paper that Berkowitz was inconsistent in following mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines.

The State Department denied that Berkowitz was lax in following health guidance.

Video: 19 times Trump promised to enact a health-care plan (The Washington Post)

19 times Trump promised to enact a health-care plan

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“During all of Director Berkowitz’s engagements abroad, he consistently followed the mask-wearing protocol demonstrated by his counterparts from the host government. As Secretary Pompeo has said, we take the threat posed by COVID-19 very seriously, and extend every precaution to protect each member of our team as we carry out our diplomatic engagement during these unprecedented times,” a State Department spokesperson told The Hill.

“We are closely monitoring daily COVID-19 developments, and continue to apply the best science and the current public health recommendations to support the entire team as we continue to achieve results on behalf of the American people.”

Administration officials are reportedly in contact with government personnel in the three countries Berkowitz visited, and an official told the Post that no cases have been reported in Hungary that are related to the trip.

The news of the diagnosis comes as both the U.S. and Europe grapple with new rises in cases and hospitalizations from the coronavirus. Among the most high-profile outbreaks was last week’s news that several members of Vice President Pence’s staff had tested positive for the coronavirus, while Europe has reported more than 1.3 million new cases this past week.

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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 TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they’re getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE‘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 efforts of Trump to continuously try to downplay the severity of the pandemic that continues to rage nearly uncontrolled across the country. 

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.

Meanwhile, Trump has been holding rallies with thousands of people and minimal physical distancing or mask-wearing. He says the country is “rounding the turn,” has attacked the media for focusing too much on COVID-19 and claimed the rise in cases is merely because the U.S. is testing more people.

The office of Vice President Pence is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak a week before the election, and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOvernight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: ‘We’re not going to control it’ | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Hillicon Valley: Hospitals brace for more cyberattacks as coronavirus cases rise | Food service groups offer local alternatives to major delivery apps | Facebook says it helped 4.4M people register to vote Trump is cruising for a bruising MORE is under fire for saying the country is not going to control the virus.

Public health experts say that as the fall and winter progress, the situation is going to get much worse. Former Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb said on CNBC Monday that the U.S. was at a “tipping point” of exponential spread in much of the country.

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Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner Threaten Lawsuit Over Billboards Criticizing Them for COVID-19 Response

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty The Lincoln Project billboards in New York City

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner threatened to sue an anti-Trump group over billboards in New York City blasting the senior White House aides for their role in the government’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans focused on preventing Donald Trump’s re-election on Nov. 3, recently set up two giant billboards in N.Y.C.’s Times Square that feature the president’s 38-year-old daughter on one and her husband, 39, on another.

In the first billboard, Ivanka is seen smiling and gesturing toward a set of statistics that more than 33,000 New Yorkers and more than 224,000 Americans have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As noted elsewhere, the photo used is the same one that Ivanka posted in a controversial tweet in July promoting Goya beans, which drew backlash from some who said the Trump administration was endorsing a specific company.

In the adjacent billboard, Kushner, who like his wife serves as an adviser to the president, can be seen smiling beside something that Vanity Fair quoted him saying during a meeting in March: “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem.” (Kushner disputes saying this.)

The bottom of the billboard with his photo is lined with red-and-white body bags.

The billboards are set to remain through at least two days after the election, per The New York Times.

RELATED: CBS Airs 60 Minutes Interview with Trump — Including When He ‘Walked Out’ After Complaining About Tone

Alex Wong/Getty From left: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

The couple was not pleased, according to an attorney representing them, who sent a letter on Friday to The Lincoln Project threatening a lawsuit if the billboards were not removed.

Marc E. Kasowitz, the lawyer, called the billboards “false, malicious and defamatory.”

Kasowitz also took issue with the juxtaposition on the billboards between the disputed Kushner quote and Ivanka’s gesture and the other elements tying them to the death toll from the pandemic.

Kasowitz described it as “outrageous and shameful libel.” (He did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)

“If these billboards are not immediately removed, we will sue you for what will doubtless be enormous compensatory and punitive damages,” he wrote in his letter.

The Lincoln Project, which has built a major media profile (and raised millions) on a series of viral anti-Trump ads and other stunts, quickly posted his letter on social media instead.

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Later on Friday, the group shared its rebuttal on Twitter, calling the president’s daughter and son-in-law “entitled, out-of-touch bullies who have never given the slightest indication they have any regard for the American people.”

“We plan on showing them the same level of respect,” the group wrote in its response.

The

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White House Official Says ‘We’re Not Going to Control’ COVID-19 as Critics Say Trump ‘Surrendered’

Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in two recent interviews that “we’re not going to control” COVID-19, which led Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and other critics to say President Donald Trump’s administration is giving up on fighting the pandemic.

“We’re going to defeat the virus; we’re not going to control it,” Meadows, 61, told reporters Monday morning, as cases and deaths hit new surges across the U.S. in recent days.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has killed more than 225,000 people across the country so far, according to a New York Times tracker.

“We will try to contain it as best we can,” Meadows said, adding the White House is instead focusing on therapeutics and finding a vaccine.

Biden, 77, said Meadows’ remark was “an acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t,” the Times reported.

Shutterstock White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows

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Biden’s condemnation of the White House’s efforts—or lack thereof—to limit the spread of COVID-19 came after Meadows initially made a similar comment Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“We’re not going to control the pandemic, we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and other medications,” Meadows told CNN anchor Jake Tapper.

Looking perplexed, Tapper, 51, responded: “Why aren’t we going to get control of the pandemic?”

“Because it’s a contagious virus, just like the flu,” Meadows said, despite federal health officials having long warned the novel coronavirus is not like the flu and spreads more rapidly, and dangerously, without proper containment efforts. (COVID-19 has killed more people in the U.S. than the last five flu seasons combined.)

“But why not make efforts to contain it?” Tapper asked again, before they began arguing.

Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters on Monday

RELATED: Four of Vice President Mike Pence’s Aides, Including His Chief of Staff, Test Positive for COVID-19

Meadows’ comments during the CNN interview led to a wave of backlash, as the U.S. now has had more than 8.7 million reported COVID-19 cases—the most in the world.

“The Trump administration would rather let tens of thousands of Americans unnecessarily die than listen to scientists and create a national plan,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, a former Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted.

Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, told reporters on Sunday that Meadows’ statement signaled the Trump administration was “admitting defeat,” while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told NBC New York: “They surrendered without firing a shot.”

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images Donald Trump speaks at the White House on October 10 while recovering from COVID-19

RELATED: Top Trump Aide Mark Meadows Held Mask-Less Wedding for His Daughter amid

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