Coronavirus Live Updates: Report Claims Infighting, Exhaustion Deadlocking Trump’s COVID-19 Task Force



Read the latest updates below. (To see the latest updates, you may need to refresh the page. All times are Eastern. For earlier updates on the pandemic, go here.)

California Will Evaluate FDA-Approved Vaccines Before Distributing Them — 10/19/20, 3:43 p.m. ET

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Monday that a team of public health experts will “independently review the safety and efficacy of any vaccine that receives FDA approval for distribution” before it’s given out to Californians.

“Of course we don’t take anyone’s word for it,” Newsom said of a federally approved vaccine at a press conference.

That panel of experts will ensure that the first doses of an approved vaccine go to health care workers, first responders and other high-risk groups. It will also come up with a strategy to further distribute vaccines throughout next year.

— Lydia O’Connor

Biden Tests Negative For COVID-19 — 10/19/20, 11:00 a.m. ET

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tested negative for the coronavirus on Monday, according to his campaign.

“Vice President Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” the campaign said in a statement.

Two people who regularly travel with Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tested positive last week, forcing the temporary cancelation of in-person campaign events.

She’s set to resume campaigning this week after all of the COVID-19 tests she took last week came back negative.

— Ryan Grenoble

Infighting, Exhaustion Deadlocks Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, New Report Details — 10/19/20, 9:25 a.m. ET

Infighting within the White House’s coronavirus task force has reportedly left its members deadlocked on the appropriate pandemic response, even as COVID-19 cases in the United States are expected to surge in the coming weeks with seemingly no end in sight.

A report in The Washington Post on Monday details exhaustive feuds and stalemates among President Donald Trump’s health advisers, based on interviews with 41 administration officials, Trump advisers, public health leaders and others with knowledge of the internal government deliberations.

In addition to disagreements on mask-wearing, testing and vaccines, Scott Atlas — a radiologist who joined the task force in August after his controversial Fox News commentary caught Trump’s eye — has been outspoken in challenging the accuracy of his fellow members’ work and analysis, particularly the infection rate data collected and analyzed by White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx.

Rather than focusing on ways to mitigate the spread of the virus, Trump and many of his advisers have resolved to obtain a vaccine as the only way to revive the economy and return to normality, even as outside experts warn that developing a vaccine would not be a silver bullet, the Post reported.

“They’ve given up on everything else,” said a senior administration official involved in the pandemic response, per the Post. “It’s too hard of a slog.”

Read the full story here.

— Nina Golgowski

Global Coronavirus Cases Top 40 Million — 10/19/20, 6:30 a.m. ET

Worldwide coronavirus cases topped 40 million on Monday as the pace of infection picked up with the onset of winter, taking just 32 days to go from 30 million to 40 million cases. It took three months to reach 10 million cases from when the first cases were reported in early January.

There have been more than 1.1 million deaths globally, Reuters reported.

The true numbers of both cases and deaths are likely much higher, given inconsistencies in reporting and deficiencies in testing by some countries.

The U.S., India and Brazil remain the worst affected countries in the world.

— Liza Hearon

More Than 1,000 Current And Former CDC Officers Slam Government Coronavirus Response — 6:20 p.m. ET

More than 1,000 current and former officers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed a letter criticizing the federal government’s response to the coronavirus crisis and demanding “our nation’s leaders to allow CDC to resume its indispensable role.”

The signees were current and former members of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, sometimes known as “disease detectives.” Founded nearly 70 years ago, the EIS is a two-year postdoctoral program for epidemiologists to get hands-on experience in the field.

“The absence of national leadership on COVID-19 is unprecedented and dangerous,” the letter said. “The U.S. epidemic is sustained by deadly chains of transmission that crisscross the entire country. Yet states and territories have been left to invent their own differing systems for defining, diagnosing and reporting cases of this highly contagious disease. Inconsistent contact tracing efforts are confined within each state’s borders — while coronavirus infections sadly are not. Such chaos is what CDC customarily avoided by its long history of collaboration with state and local health authorities in developing national systems for disease surveillance and coordinated control.”

The Trump administration has been criticized for sidelining the CDC. It reportedly went so far as to interfere in the agency’s reports as it has largely failed in its response to the virus’s spread.

— Sara Boboltz

Rural Midwest Hospitals Are Struggling To Handle COVID-19 Surge — 10/17/20, 12:43 p.m. ET

Small towns and rural counties in the Upper Midwest and northern Plains are seeing surging COVID-19 rates as hospitals worry about sufficient resources.

Health officials have seen resistance to mask-wearing by residents who feel that it is “some kind of a political statement,” Tom Dean, one of only three doctors working in South Dakota’s Jerauld County, told the Associated Press.

Jerauld County, with a population of around 2,000, has a death rate that’s about four times higher than the nationwide rate.

— Hilary Hanson



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