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Birx warns Trump administration ‘aggressive action’ must be taken on COVID-19

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, wrote in an internal report shared with White House officials on Monday that the Trump administration must take “much more aggressive action” in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Birx warned that “cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30 percent of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic,” The Washington Post reports. In many areas, testing is “flat or declining” but the number of cases is increasing, Birx wrote, and the country is “entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality. This is not about lockdowns — it hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.”

President Trump has been claiming the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the virus, and in the report, Birx expressly contradicts Trump, warning against huge gatherings like his campaign rallies. One administration official told the Post that Birx has been sending “urgent” messages like this for weeks, and has been pleading with Trump staffers to “ask the American people to use masks, avoid gatherings, and socially distance, basically since it became apparent that we were heading into a third surge.”

Another administration official told the Post that Birx feels “like she’s being ignored,” especially since Trump has been persuaded by his new medical adviser, radiologist Scott Atlas, that herd immunity is the way to go. Birx has been challenging Atlas in meetings, the Post reports, and has spent the last few weeks traveling to virus hot spots and asking health officials to shutter restaurants and bars and make masks mandatory. Read more at The Washington Post.

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Top Trump adviser pleads for ‘more aggressive action’ against covid-19, even as president downplays threat

A top White House coronavirus adviser sounded alarms Monday about a new and deadly phase in the health crisis, pleading with top administration officials for “much more aggressive action,” even as President Trump continues to assure rallygoers the nation is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic.



Deborah Birx wearing a suit and tie: Deborah Birx delivers remarks on the pandemic in the White House last April. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)


Deborah Birx delivers remarks on the pandemic in the White House last April. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic … leading to increasing mortality,” said the Nov. 2 report from Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. “This is not about lockdowns — It hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.”

Birx’s internal report, shared with top White House and agency officials, contradicts Trump on numerous points: While the president holds large campaign events with hundreds of attendees, most without masks, she explicitly warns against them. While the president blames rising cases on more testing, she says testing is “flat or declining” in many areas where cases are rising. And while Trump says the country is “rounding the turn,” Birx notes the country is entering its most dangerous period yet and will see more than 100,000 new cases a day this week.

Through a spokesperson, Birx did not respond to a request for comment.

Other experts, including Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have warned of record surges in cases and hospitalizations as the United States records more than 9 million cases and 230,000 deaths. “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” Fauci told The Washington Post late Friday, predicting a long and potentially deadly winter unless there’s an “abrupt change” — prompting Trump to suggest he planned to fire the scientist after the election.

But Birx’s daily missives go much further, revealing how much the administration’s internal reports are in direct conflict with Trump’s public pronouncements that downplay the seriousness of the threat and erroneously suggest few people are dying. They also speak to the increasing desperation of health officials to spotlight the risks of a pandemic that is forecast to take thousands more lives as the weather worsens unless people change their behaviors.

The increasingly dire tone of her reports has gotten little traction, according to an administration official who works with Birx and spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive information. “She feels like she’s being ignored,” the official said.

Birx’s message “has been urgent for weeks,” said another administration official, “as has the plea for the administration to ask the American people to use masks, avoid gatherings and socially distance, basically since it became apparent that we were heading into a third surge.”

The report hits hard on the worsening situation: “Cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30 percent of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic,” it said. “Half of the United States is in

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Mont. pursues action over mask use noncompliance

HELENA, Mont. — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock says the state health department is pursuing legal action against several businesses in northwestern Montana for not following a mask mandate and other restrictions meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement came Thursday as the state reported 932 newly confirmed coronavirus cases. That was far above the previous one-day high of 734.

The new cases include 173 in Yellowstone County and 112 in Flathead County, where the governor says businesses face legal action.

State officials also have launched a new website to allow people to submit complaints against businesses and events that are not complying with health directives.


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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— France extends curfew to 38 regions because of coronavirus surge

— African health officials expect WHO distribution of rapid virus tests

— Oxford vaccine trial continues amid death report

— Britain offering financial help for bars, pubs and restaurants struggling because of restrictions due to the coronavirus.

— Czech Republic enters second lockdown to avoid health system collapse. New measures include closing stores, shopping malls and hotels.

— Photographer in Dubai providing free photo shoots to laid-off expats forced to leave the skyscraper-studded Persian Gulf city because of the pandemic.

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Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

ROSWELL, N.M. — Officials at a military junior college in New Mexico say the school is under quarantine after more than 60 cadets and employees tested positive for the coronavirus. Those who tested positive are being kept isolated.

The quarantine at the New Mexico Military Institute is expected to last until Oct. 29. Parents will be allowed to visit only in special situations or emergencies, and officials say all campus facilities are being closed to the public for five weeks.

The closure comes as the state struggles with a surge in coronavirus infections. Wednesday marked another record day for daily confirmed cases, with 827, and state health officials reported an additional 669 cases Thursday. That brings the statewide total to nearly 39,380 since the pandemic began.

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BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana will allow more high school football fans to attend games in open-air stadiums beginning Friday if the events are in parishes with low numbers of coronavirus cases in the last few weeks.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday that stadiums will be allowed to have crowds at 50% capacity in parishes where 5% or less of coronavirus tests have come back positive in the previous two weeks. Stadiums have been capped at 25% capacity.

The governor says 26 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes meet the criteria to boost crowd size.

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said Thursday that he remains opposed to mandatory mask orders despite being diagnosed with COVID-19, even though he encourages people to wear one.

The Republican lieutenant governor announced Wednesday that he tested positive for the coronavirus. He said he sought a test

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health

Idaho’s coronavirus cases spike again, doctors urge action

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho is seeing its largest coronavirus spike since the pandemic began, with new cases increasing by 46.5% percent over the past two weeks. That trend has some health care experts urging Gov. Brad Little to take additional action to slow the spread.

“As a health system, we’re all very concerned,” said Dr. Bart Hill, the vice president and chief quality officer of St. Luke’s Health System, the largest health system in the state. “It’s indicative of anticipating we’re going to see more hospitalizations affecting an older population in the next two, three, four weeks.”

Idaho is currently sixth in the nation for new cases per capita, with a positivity rate of just over 15% — one of the highest in the nation. Still, Little has declined to take additional statewide steps like requiring masks to slow the virus.

“Idaho is an expansive state, and communities and their needs vary greatly across the state,” Little’s spokeswoman, Marissa Morrison, wrote in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday. “Governor Little remains committed to working closely with public health districts and mayors, and he supports the decisions of local officials in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in communities experiencing high virus activity.”

Little has repeatedly said that the responsibility to slow the coronavirus falls on individuals, urging people to wear masks, practice social distancing and practice good hygiene.


“Our personal actions work better to slow the spread of coronavirus than anything else,” Little said Thursday when he announced Idaho would remain in Stage 4 of his reopening plan for the 18th week in a row. “This is about personal responsibility, something Idaho is all about.”

A significant portion of Idaho residents, however, don’t seem to be taking Little’s message to heart. Photos of a volleyball game in the southern Idaho town of Twin Falls area posted to social media on Monday showed mask-less people sitting hip-to-hip in a packed school gym. St. Luke’s hospitals in the region, meanwhile, are now postponing elective surgeries to ensure there is room for an expected influx of COVID-19 patients in the coming days.

Hill said health care providers knew that the pandemic would ebb and flow over time, and the temporary statewide shutdown that Little ordered back in March gave medical facilities time to prepare for spikes like the one Idaho is currently experiencing. St. Luke’s Health System still has adequate capacity for now, he said.

“I know (St. Luke’s) leadership is having conversations with the governor today and tomorrow expressing our concerns that doing the same of what we have been doing is not likely to change our trajectory,” he said. “The direction we’re heading is one that it looks real problematic.”

Hill said he’s not advocating steps that would hurt the economy, but rather targeted interventions like information campaigns aimed at teens and young adults who are more likely to spread the virus to older and more at-risk Idahoans. Hill also said the state needs to improve testing capacity so

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health

Phosplatin Therapeutics Announces Presentation of Research into PT-112 Mechanism of Action at the 32nd EORTC-NCI-AACR Virtual Symposium

NEW YORK, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Phosplatin Therapeutics LLC, a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on oncology therapeutics, today announced that data revealing novel mechanistic attributes of its lead candidate PT-112, an immunogenic cell death (ICD) inducer under Phase 2 development, will be presented at the 32nd Symposium of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) taking place virtually from October 24-25.

(PRNewsfoto/Phosplatin Therapeutics LLC)
(PRNewsfoto/Phosplatin Therapeutics LLC)

Title: 

PT-112, A First-In-Class Pyrophosphate-Platinum Conjugate, Selectively Targets Highly Glycolytic Tumor Cells (catalog number 188)

Abstract availability: 

Saturday, October 24, 2020 on EORTC-NCI-AACR symposium site and on the Phosplatin Therapeutics web site

Session: 

New Drugs Poster Session (code 380)

Lead Author: 

A. Anel, University of Zaragoza /Aragón Health Research Institute, Biochemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology, Zaragoza, Spain

Building upon prior publication of the ICD effects of PT-112, the body of work to be presented is part of an effort to understand the metabolic pathways and cellular targets affected by PT-112 upstream of ICD initiation. “The data to be reported at the 32nd EORTC-NCI-AACR Virtual Symposium advance the body of knowledge around PT-112’s pleiotropic mechanism of action and provide valuable information on further potential clinical applications of PT-112. As we continue our clinical study of this unique compound in patients with challenging cancers, such insights are important,” said Robert Fallon, co-founder and chief executive officer, Phosplatin Therapeutics. “We are pleased to co-present this body of work under our fruitful collaboration with the Anel lab at the University of Zaragoza, Spain.”

About PT-112

PT-112 is a novel small molecule conjugate of pyrophosphate that possesses a unique pleiotropic mechanism of action that promotes immunogenic cell death (ICD), through the release of damage associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) that bind to dendritic cells and lead to downstream immune effector cell recruitment in the tumor microenvironment. PT-112 represents the best-in-class small molecule inducer of this immunological form of cancer cell death and is currently under Phase II development. The first in-human study of PT-112 demonstrated an attractive safety profile and evidence of long-lasting responses among heavily pre-treated patients and won “Best Poster” within the Developmental Therapeutics category at the ESMO 2018 Annual Congress. The novelty of PT-112’s pyrophosphate moiety also results in osteotropism, or the propensity of the drug to reach the mineralized bone. This property is of interest in cancer types that originate in or metastasize to the bone. The combination Phase Ib study of PT-112 with PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor avelumab in solid tumors was reported in an oral presentation at the ESMO 2020 Virtual Congress.

About Phosplatin Therapeutics

Phosplatin Therapeutics is a privately held, clinical stage pharmaceutical company that holds exclusive global license to phosphaplatins, a family of small molecules rationally designed to circumvent the mechanisms of drug resistance and toxicity commonly associated with chemotherapeutic regimens. The company’s lead candidate, PT-112, is a novel chemical entity under clinical development that exhibits a unique

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