WASHINGTON (AP) — A multi-state coronavirus surge in the countdown to Election Day has exposed a clear split between President Donald Trump’s bullish embrace of a return to normalcy and urgent public warnings from the government’s top health officials.
It’s the opposite of what usually happens in a public health crisis, because political leaders tend to repeat and amplify the recommendations of their health experts, not short-circuit them. “It’s extremely unusual for there to be simultaneous contrary messaging,” said John Auerbach, who heads the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health.… Read More
The White House Coronavirus Task Force has reportedly warned of a “persistent and broad spread” of COVID-19 infections across the U.S. West, advocating stricter prevention efforts to help slow the spread of transmission, per Reuters.
“We are on a very difficult trajectory. We’re going in the wrong direction,” Anthony Fauci, the most prominent task force member, said.
PROPOSAL TO LET CORONAVIRUS SPREAD NATURALLY THROUGH US POPULATION INTERESTS WHITE HOUSE, ALARMS MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT
EUROPE REENTERS LOCKDOWNS AS COVID-19 CASES SURGE
THE FIRST DEATH FROM A CORONAVIRUS REINFECTION HAS BEEN REPORTED
US SENATOR TOOK OFF MASK REPEATEDLY ON FLIGHT. HE CHAIRS COMMITTEE THAT OVERSEES AIRLINE SAFETY
Data reveal that cases are high and remaining high in states like Wisconsin, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Utah, Iowa, Tennessee, Arkansas and Minnesota, among dozens of others. Many of these states are key battleground states that have potential to determine the outcome of the competitive election between incumbent President Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Fauci confirmed that new cases are increasing in 47 states, along with hospitalizations.
Wisconsin, in particular, is on track to run out of intensive care unit beds.
“Every single positive increases the probability or likelihood of having another patient who is hospitalized,” Bill Melms, chief medical officer for Marshfield Clinic Health System, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
On a national level, the two-week change in new cases is up by 41 percent, with fatalities increasing by nine percent on average.
Roughly 1,016 new COVID-19 deaths and 81,457 new cases were reported on Oct. 28, per The New York Times.
“We continue to see unrelenting, broad community spread in the Midwest, Upper Midwest and West. This will require aggressive mitigation to control both the silent, asymptomatic spread and symptomatic spread,” one state report said.
A nationwide lockdown has still not been issued, and some states do not have a mandatory mask order, such as Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Most of these states are experiencing surges in new cases.
KANSAS’S COVID-19 POSITIVITY RATE SURPASSES 20 PERCENT
MOST VOTERS BELIEVE THE CORONAVIRUS IS OUT OF CONTROL IN THE US, POLL SAYS
CDC ‘STRONGLY RECOMMENDS’ ALL PASSENGERS ON PLANES, TRAINS, BUSES WEAR MASKS TO SLOW SPREAD OF COVID-19
THE COMING WEEKS WILL BE ‘DARKEST OF THE ENTIRE PANDEMIC,’ INFECTIOUS DISEASES EXPERT SAYS
Sir Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty, the government’s top scientific and medical advisers, are understood to be arguing hard with ministers for tighter restrictions across England ahead of Christmas.
The pair are calling for tougher measures armed with what has been described as new modelling from experts on Sage, the government’s epidemics advisory group, showing that deaths this winter could exceed those in the spring.
Just last month, on 21 September, the pair were accused of doom-mongering when they appeared on national television as a double act, warning of the possibility of 50,000 cases and 200 Covid deaths a day by mid-October.
The measures Boris Johnson announced later that day – closing pubs at 10pm, encouraging working from home and penalties for people who break the rule of six – were supposed to prevent those numbers being reached. But they have not. Deaths have exceeded 200 and even 300 in recent days.
There is now clear evidence that the trajectory of infections, hospital admissions and deaths is rising steadily , in spite of the tier system of controls on people’s social activities.
According to some newspapers, the death toll is likely to be higher than it was in the spring. New modelling was said to predict that deaths would plateau, but at a relatively high level even though lower than earlier in the year. That plateau would continue for months. Vallance was said to be pushing for tier 3 restrictions across the whole of England before Christmas.
The existence of new modelling surprised some members of Sage – although not the conclusions that Vallance and Whitty had reached. The evidence was there in a report that Vallance himself commissioned from the Academy of Medical Sciences in July.
That report, “Preparing for a Challenging Winter 2020/21” modelled a “reasonable worst-case scenario”, in which the R – the number of people infected by each person with the virus – rose to 1.7. It estimated that almost 120,000 Covid hospital deaths between September this year and June next year, “over double the number that occurred during the first wave in spring 2020”.
In addition, it warned of further disruption of the NHS and social care, a backlog of non-Covid cases and a possible influenza epidemic. “There is a need for urgent preparation to mitigate the risks of a particularly challenging winter 2020/21,” said the report.
That preparation should have happened over the summer, said Prof Dame Anne Johnson, president elect of the Academy of Medical Sciences, who was one of the authors.
“What we suggested in the report was that the time to be really working on suppressing the virus is exactly when it is really low. Keep it down there. And of course we didn’t do that and there were a lot of reasons,” she said.
“When we came out of lockdown we went very nervously to restaurants. We continued to queue outside shops. Somehow all that effort which wasn’t necessarily about not meeting
The vaccine advisory committee, meeting remotely in an all-day session, will not review a specific vaccine because no company has applied for the FDA’s imprimatur. Rather, the group will provide views on the FDA’s standards governing whether a vaccine is sufficiently safe and effective to warrant an emergency use authorization. It will also weigh in on the conduct of clinical trials once a vaccine is cleared and monitoring safety on an ongoing basis.
Even a general discussion is an important milestone, especially after protracted political melodrama involving the vaccine review process, experts said.
“The visual of scientists sitting around the table carefully discussing what a safe and effective vaccine might look like is an important moment for the FDA,” said Jason L. Schwartz, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Yale School of Public Health. “For months, all the FDA could do was offer promises about how science would guide its decisions on the vaccine. This shows how that will happen as data begins to come in.”
The panel will offer the agency advice for navigating the “extraordinary and unprecedented steps” of clearing a vaccine on an emergency basis, said M. Miles Braun, former director of the FDA’s division of epidemiology and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, during a media briefing Wednesday. FDA officials will want to know they are “on firm ground, and not missing any issues,” Braun said.
The FDA has said it will hold additional advisory committee meetings to consider applications from vaccine makers, which could begin arriving as soon as mid-November.
The panel, called the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, is made up mostly of academic experts in infectious diseases, immunology and biostatistics. Some members recused themselves because they work at hospitals where coronavirus vaccine trials are being conducted or are involved in the trials. They were replaced by temporary members, including Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan epidemiologist who will serve as committee chairman, according to documents on the FDA website.
The FDA on Wednesday posted the topics it wants to discuss with the committee, including the effects of vaccines in specific populations. One of the most complicated questions centers on how to continue clinical trials after a vaccine is authorized. Should participants who received the placebo be notified and allowed to get the vaccine? If so, will that hurt the trial’s ability to collect useful data on an ongoing basis, and how can that be mitigated?
The FDA has used advisory committees for decades to bulk up its expertise and win buy-in from the public and outside scientists on its decisions. The FDA is not required to take advice from the panels but often does. The vaccine committee is expected to play an especially important role given the political pressure exerted by the White House on the FDA in recent weeks and months.
The White House held up the guidance, but the FDA circumvented the blockade by publishing it as part of briefing materials provided