in

First Edition: March 26, 2020

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations.


Kaiser Health News:
Public Health Officials To Newsom: Lockdown Won’t Work Without Enforcement


When Gov. Gavin Newsom last week ordered nearly all 40 million Californians to stay in their homes to combat the spread of COVID-19, he set the tone for the nation, becoming the first to issue a statewide lockdown. Governors who had previously resisted quickly followed suit, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But one week into the lockdown, epidemiologists tracking rates of transmission in California and the United States worry that Newsom’s shelter-in-place order will be less effective in controlling new infections without stronger enforcement. (Hart, 3/26)


Kaiser Health News:
Hospital Suppliers Take To The Skies To Combat Dire Shortages Of COVID-19 Gear


Hospitals in the New York City area are turning to a private distributor to airlift millions of protective masks out of China. The U.S. military is flying specialized swabs out of Italy. And a Chicago-area medical supply firm is taking to the skies as well — because a weekslong boat trip across the ocean just won’t do. The race to import medical supplies reflects a nationwide panic over a dwindling supply of the masks, gowns and other protective gear that health care workers need amid the growing coronavirus pandemic. Demand is outstripping what’s available due to a damaged supply chain heavily reliant on China and a struggling Strategic National Stockpile. U.S. manufacturing giants like 3M have not yet made up the difference. (Jewett and Weber, 3/25)


Kaiser Health News:
Shortfall Of Comfort Care Signals Undue Suffering For Coronavirus Patients


For Jill Hofstede, whose 90-year-old mother has Alzheimer’s disease, news about the coronavirus becomes more terrifying every day.Although the potential shortages of mechanical ventilators and intensive care beds have made headlines, Hofstede fears a surge of COVID-19 patients could deprive her mother of something far more basic should she contract the disease: relief from pain and suffering. “I do not want her to die of the virus,” said Hofstede, 57, a mother of five who lives in Brush Prairie, Washington. Even more crucially, Hofstede said, “I would not want her to suffer.” (Szabo, 3/26)


Kaiser Health News:
Trump’s Boast About U.S., South Korea Coronavirus Testing Misses The Mark


Boasting about his administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis — and arguing the outbreak would soon be under control — President Donald Trump claimed that recent American efforts to test widely for COVID-19 surpass those of other countries. “We’ve done more tests in eight days than South Korea has done in eight weeks,” Trump said during a March 24 virtual town hall hosted by Fox News, reiterating a statement made just moments before by Dr. Deborah Birx, the head of the White House coronavirus response. The statement was repeated during the White House briefing that evening. (Luthra, 3/25)


Kaiser Health News:
California Lawmakers Struggle To Conduct Business Amid COVID-19 Lockdown


The weekend before California shuttered its Capitol building, Senate leader Toni Atkins spent hours on the phone ― taking the roles of a student learning from epidemiologists and a legislator discussing with colleagues how the country’s most populous state should respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Like many lawmakers from New York to Washington state, Atkins and her fellow Sacramento legislators find themselves in uncharted territory. Legislative sessions are on hold. Sweeping initiatives are shelved. State budgets are already squeezed by massive spending on COVID-19. (Young, 3/25)


Kaiser Health News:
California Isn’t Testing Enough Children For Lead, Prompting Legislation 


In some parts of California, a higher percentage of children who were tested had elevated levels of toxic lead in their blood than in Flint, Michigan, during the height of that city’s water crisis. More than 5% of children under age 6 in nine mostly rural California counties had blood lead levels in 2015 that put them above state and federal reporting guidelines for lead exposure — at least 4.5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood — according to the most detailed data from the California Department of Public Health. Across the state, 1.4% of children who were tested, or about 7,650 kids, had elevated blood lead levels that year. (Rowan, 3/26)


The New York Times:
Senate Approves $2 Trillion Stimulus After Bipartisan Deal


The $2 trillion economic stabilization package agreed to by Congress and the Trump administration early Wednesday morning is the largest of its kind in modern American history, intended to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and provide direct payments and jobless benefits for individuals, money for states and a huge bailout fund for businesses. The measure, which the Senate approved unanimously just before midnight on Wednesday, amounts to a government aid plan unprecedented in its sheer scope and size, touching on every facet of American life with the goal of salvaging and ultimately reviving a battered economy. (Cochrane and Fandos, 3/25)


The Washington Post:
The Senate Coronavirus Stimulus Bill: What’s In It And How Big Is It


The legislation takes a multipronged approach to confronting the mounting crisis. It contains a number of measures aimed directly at helping workers, including stimulus checks for millions of Americans, and others to shore up the government safety net, with provisions such as more food stamp spending and more robust unemployment insurance benefits. It also includes numerous provisions to help businesses weather the impending crunch, providing them with zero-interest loans, tax breaks and other subsidies. (Stein, 3/26)


The Associated Press:
Senate Passes Coronavirus Rescue Package On Unanimous Vote


The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared somber and exhausted as he announced the vote — and he released senators from Washington until April 20, though he promised to recall them if needed. “Pray for one another, for all of our families, and for our country,” said McConnell, R-Ky. “The legislation now before us now is historic because it is meant to match a historic crisis,“said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “Our health care system is not prepared to care for the sick. Our workers are without work. Our businesses cannot do business. Our factories lie idle. The gears of the American economy have ground to a halt.” (Taylor, 3/26)


Reuters:
U.S. Senate Passes $2 Trillion Bill For ‘Strange And Evil’ Coronavirus Crisis


Top aides to Trump and senior senators from both parties announced that they had agreed on the unprecedented stimulus bill in the early hours of Wednesday after five days of talks. But it was delayed by criticism from both the right and left on Wednesday, pushing the final vote on passage almost another full day. Several Republican senators had insisted the bill needed to be changed to ensure that laid-off workers would not be paid more in unemployment benefits than they earned on the job. (Cowan, Morgan and Zengerle, 3/25)


The Associated Press:
Highlights Of Congress’ Massive Virus Economic Relief Plan


Partial highlights of a roughly $2.2 trillion package to rush aid to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic. The package, written by Trump administration officials and Democratic and Republican Senate leaders, was released late Wednesday night and unanimously approved by the Senate. … Health care: $150 billion. Includes $100 billion for grants to hospitals, public and nonprofit health organizations and Medicare and Medicaid suppliers. (Fram, 3/26)


Politico:
Here’s What’s In The $2T Stimulus Package — And What’s Next


What [hospitals] got: Health care providers would secure $100 billion in grants to help fight the coronavirus and make up for dollars they have lost by delaying elective surgeries and other procedures to focus on the outbreak. They would also get a 20 percent bump in Medicare payments for treating patients with the virus. Why it matters: This figure is exactly what three powerful groups representing physicians, hospitals and nurses had demanded, though for-profit hospitals were lobbying for much more. But there are still questions about whether there will be significant guardrails on how the money will be split up. The coronavirus will hit rural hospitals especially hard, since they already operate on thin margins and have limited staffing capacity. So some lawmakers have been working to ensure enough money goes to those sites. (Emma and Scholtes, 3/25)


The Wall Street Journal:
What’s In The $2 Trillion Senate Coronavirus Bill


$221 billion in a variety of tax benefits for businesses, including allowing businesses to defer payroll taxes, which finance Medicare and Social Security, for the rest of the year. It would also temporarily allow businesses to claim deductions using today’s losses against past profits to claim quick refunds for cash infusions. — $340 billion in supplemental spending, which includes $117 billion for hospitals and veterans’ care. It also includes $25 billion mostly for public transit to make up for revenue lost because of dwindling ridership. (3/26)


Los Angeles Times:
Coronavirus: Senate Vote Expected On $2-Trillion Stimulus Bill


The package also blocks foreclosures and evictions during the crisis on properties where the federal government backs the mortgage; pauses federal student loan payments for six months and waives the interest; gives states millions of dollars to begin offering mail or early voting; and provides more than $25 billion in new money for food assistance programs like SNAP. The real test will be whether the House accepts the bill as it is. Friday’s vote will be held by a voice vote, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Wednesday evening. That means representatives scattered across the country don’t have to return to Washington for the vote. (Wire, 3/25)


The Hill:
Hoyer Says House Expects To Pass Coronavirus Bill On Friday 


“In order to protect the safety of Members and staff and prevent further spread of COVID-19 through Members’ travel, the Republican Leader and I expect that the House vote on final passage will be done by voice vote,” Hoyer wrote. “Members who want to come to the House Floor to debate this bill will be able to do so.” Hoyer said that he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are figuring out a way for members unable to travel to still express their positions from afar. (Marcos, 3/26)


Politico:
Inside The 10 Days To Rescue The Economy


It was going to cost $1 trillion. Late on March 16, five days after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic, Larry Kudlow — the one-time cable news talker turned top economic advisor to President Donald Trump — was in the Senate’s historic Mansfield room, telling a group of senior GOP senators something they didn’t want to hear. (Bresnahan, Levine and Desiderio, 3/26)


The Associated Press:
US Deaths Top 1,000 As $2.2 Trillion In Virus Aid Approved


U.S. deaths from the coronavirus pandemic topped 1,000 in another grim milestone for a global outbreak that is taking lives and wreaking havoc on economies and the established routines of ordinary life. Worldwide, the death toll climbed past 21,000, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University, and the U.S. had 1,050 deaths and nearly 70,000 infections. (Peltz and Long, 3/26)


The Associated Press:
Trump’s Push To Open Economy Could Come At Cost Of Lives


The contrast could hardly be more stark. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has said that if all of his sweeping, expensive measures to stem the corornavirus saved one life, it would be worth it. President Donald Trump has another view: The costs of shutting down the economy outweigh the benefits, frequently telling Americans that 35,000 people a year die from the common flu. Though it may seem crass, the federal government actually has long made a calculation when imposing regulations, called “the value of a statistical life,” that places a price tag on a human life. It has been used to consider whether to require seat belts, airbags or environmental regulations, but has never been applied in a broad public health context. (Madhani, Kellman and Freking, 3/26)


Reuters:
Trump Says Reopen By Easter, Corporate America Says Not So Fast


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation and National Restaurant Association pointed to less optimistic recommendations by public health officials. Many of these have urged that Americans stay in their homes as much as possible for weeks to prevent the virus’ spread. “It’s a tough one. I think it would be easier to accept that as something that I would feel comfortable doing if I thought it weren’t going to cost lives,” said Melanie Krautstrunk, who owns a brew pub in Tennessee, about re-opening by Easter. (Bartz, 3/25)


The Associated Press:
Many Businesses Cautious About Restarting Economy Amid Virus


Despite wild swings in financial markets and signs that unemployment is surging — both of which could hurt Trump in an election year — many businesses say it’s not clear that reopening will be even an option in a few weeks: They have to follow the orders set in each state, and many of those are open ended or could be extended at any time. They are worried that opening too soon could be seen as irresponsible. And even if they did reopen, would customers come if the virus isn’t under control? “He’s not being realistic. How can you open if the cases are climbing day after day?” asked Paul Boutros, who owns East Side Pockets, a small restaurant that has lost most of its business since nearby Brown University sent students home two weeks ago. (Smith and Durbin, 3/26)


Reuters:
Biden Calls Trump’s Easter Back-To-Business Goal ‘Catastrophic’


Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said on Wednesday that potential efforts by President Donald Trump to re-open American businesses in time for the Easter holiday could be “catastrophic.” The governors of at least 18 states, including New York and California, have issued stay-at-home directives affecting about half the U.S. population, and shuttering many businesses, in a costly effort to slow the deadly pathogen’s spread. (Hunnicutt, 3/25)


The Associated Press:
Fears For Civil Rights Mount Amid Fight Against Coronavirus


The orders seem prudent in the bid to thwart the spread of the novel coronavirus: Don’t go out, don’t gather with others and keep your stores closed. But growing segments of the U.S. population say state and federal governments are trampling on freedoms central to American life in the name of protecting public health. The case is already being made. A church-goer in New Hampshire says prohibitions against large gatherings violate her religious rights. A Pennsylvania golf course owner argues that gubernatorial edicts shuttering his business amount to illegal seizure of his private property. (Tarm, 3/26)


Stat:
When Can We Let Up? Exploring How To Relax Coronavirus Lockdowns 


With countries from Italy to the U.S. having waited too long to combat the coronavirus, many experts in public health and epidemiology are pleading with government officials not to compound the mistake by lifting stay-at-home and other social distancing measures too soon — and, in fact, to impose strict ones in U.S. states and cities that haven’t. But from the World Health Organization to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to epidemiology modelers across the globe, there is growing recognition that the time will and must come to tiptoe back toward normalcy. (Begley, 3/25)


Politico:
Trump Team Failed To Follow NSC’s Pandemic Playbook


The Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus — a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk. But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government should’ve begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago. “Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?” the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. “If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?” (Diamond and Toosi, 3/25)


NPR:
Where’s The CDC Gone, As The Leader Of Coronavirus Policy And Communication?


At a time when the nation is desperate for authoritative information about the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s foremost agency for fighting infectious disease outbreaks has gone conspicuously silent. “I want to assure Americans that we have a team of public health experts,” President Trump said at Tuesday evening’s coronavirus task force briefing — a bit of reassurance that probably would not have been necessary if that briefing had included anyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Greenfieldboyce, 3/25)


The New York Times:
How To Get Health Insurance If Worried About Coronavirus Or Unemployment


Most working-age Americans get their health insurance through their employer. Which means a job loss during the coronavirus pandemic could mean losing your health insurance. In past economic crises, options for buying affordable health insurance were limited. But provisions in the Affordable Care Act, along with actions taken recently by Congress and some states, mean more opportunities for getting coverage. Here’s a guide to the options, which differ depending on your circumstances. (Sanger-Katz and Abelson, 3/25)


The Associated Press:
‘The Whole City Laid Off’: US Jobless Claims Climb Sky High


Barely a week ago, David McGraw was cooking daily for hundreds of fine diners at one of New Orleans’ illustrious restaurants. Today, he’s cooking for himself, at home — laid off along with hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. in a massive economic upheaval spurred by efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Santana and Lieb, 3/25)


Reuters:
New York Sees Glimmer Of Progress Against Coronavirus, New Orleans Worsens


New York state, leading the nation in coronavirus infections and deaths, is showing tentative signs of curbing the spread of the disease, the governor said on Wednesday, even as fatalities in New York City jumped while the health crisis deepened in hard-hit New Orleans and elsewhere. The rate of hospitalizations in New York has slowed in recent days, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, with numbers he called “almost too good to be true.” He also hailed the enlistment of 40,000 retired nurses, physicians and other medical professionals signing up for a “surge health care force,” but warned much remains to be done. (Caspani and Brooks, 3/25)


The Wall Street Journal:
Infection Rate Slows In Onetime Epicenter Of New York’s Coronavirus Outbreak


Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said the growth of infections in the Westchester County suburb of New Rochelle had slowed. He also said the statewide number of hospitalizations for Covid-19 is growing more slowly. The governor said he believes both were evidence that restrictions on business activity may be working. As of Sunday evening, all nonessential businesses in the state were ordered to close and gatherings of any size were banned. “The evidence suggests that the density-control measures may be working,” Mr. Cuomo said. On Sunday, the number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 was projected to double every two days. As of Tuesday, it was projected to double every 4.7 days. (Vielkind and Brody, 3/25)


Politico:
NYC Morgues Near Capacity, DHS Briefing Warns


The Department of Homeland Security has been briefed that New York City’s morgues are nearing capacity, according to a department official and a second person familiar with the situation. Officials were told that morgues in the city are expected to reach capacity next week, per the briefing. A third person familiar with the situation in New York said some of the city’s hospital morgues hit capacity in the past seven days. And a FEMA spokesperson told POLITICO that New York has asked for emergency mortuary assistance. Hawaii and North Carolina have asked for mortuary help as well, and the disaster response agency is currently reviewing the requests, according to the spokesperson. (Swan, Lippman and Eisenberg, 3/25)


The New York Times:
13 Deaths In A Day: An ‘Apocalyptic’ Coronavirus Surge At An N.Y.C. Hospital


In several hours on Tuesday, Dr. Ashley Bray performed chest compressions at Elmhurst Hospital Center on a woman in her 80s, a man in his 60s and a 38-year-old who reminded the doctor of her fiancé. All had tested positive for the coronavirus and had gone into cardiac arrest. All eventually died. Elmhurst, a 545-bed public hospital in Queens, has begun transferring patients not suffering from coronavirus to other hospitals as it moves toward becoming dedicated entirely to the outbreak. Doctors and nurses have struggled to make do with a few dozen ventilators. Calls over a loudspeaker of “Team 700,” the code for when a patient is on the verge of death, come several times a shift. Some have died inside the emergency room while waiting for a bed. (Rothfeld, Sengupta, Goldstein and Rosenthal, 3/25)


The New York Times:
Ventilators And Coronavirus: Amid Desperation, Calls Grow For Federal Intervention


As hospitals prepare for a flood of desperately ill patients unable to breathe on their own, mechanical ventilators have become the single most important piece of equipment that can mean the difference between life and death. Now, with American hospitals facing a grave shortage of the vital devices, the Big Three automakers, small engineering firms, software designers and medical equipment manufacturers are rushing to figure out ways to produce more of them. But President Trump has so far declined to use powers that public health experts say could make a real difference in getting more ventilators to places that need them the most — right now. (Jacobs, Boudette, Richtel and Kulish, 3/25)


ProPublica:
Desperate Hospitals May Put Two Patients On One Ventilator. That’s Risky.


Gunshot victims with massive blood loss and failing lungs packed the emergency room of Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas late on the night of Oct. 1, 2017. A man had opened fire on a music festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, spraying more than a thousand rounds of ammunition into the crowd, wounding hundreds. The hospital soon ran out of ventilators, machines that breathe for patients who can’t. Dr. Kevin Menes, a critical care physician, had several patients in respiratory failure. Menes remembered that a colleague from his medical residency had studied how to connect multiple people to a single ventilator. (Gabrielson and Edwards, 3/26)


The Wall Street Journal:
Lacking Ventilators, Hospitals Seek Out Alternative Device


Some U.S. hospitals preparing for a shortage of ventilators for Covid-19 patients are modifying oxygen devices usually used for decompression sickness or foot ulcers to assist patients who will need help breathing. Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Chicago Medical Center, the Hospitals at the University of Pennsylvania and others are trying to stock up on the device, which the Food and Drug Administration has approved for use in hyperbaric medicine, in which patients are put in a high-pressure oxygen environment to treat various conditions. (Maremont, 3/25)


The Washington Post:
Doctors Consider Universal Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders For Coronavirus Patients


Hospitals on the front lines of the pandemic are engaged in a heated private debate over a calculation few have encountered in their lifetimes — how to weigh the “save at all costs” approach to resuscitating a dying patient against the real danger of exposing doctors and nurses to the contagion of coronavirus. The conversations are driven by the realization that the risk to staff amid dwindling stores of protective equipment — such as masks, gowns and gloves — may be too great to justify the conventional response when a patient “codes,” and their heart or breathing stops. (Cha, 3/25)


The Wall Street Journal:
Hospital Capacity Crosses Tipping Point In U.S. Coronavirus Hot Spots


Hospitals in U.S. pandemic epicenters have passed a tipping point in the fight against the new coronavirus as the relentless climb in infections forces some to move patients to outlying facilities, divert ambulances and store bodies in a refrigerated truck. New York, home to the nation’s largest outbreak of Covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, is rushing to build a temporary hospital in a Manhattan conference center in the hope of staying ahead of the fast-spreading disease. (Evans and Armour, 3/26)


The Associated Press:
US Hospitals Rush To Find Beds For Surge Of Virus Patients


With her due date fast approaching, Kelly McCarty packed a bag with nursing tops, a robe, slippers and granola bars. Last week’s ultrasound, she said, showed “this baby is head down and ready to go. ”But the new coronavirus has thrown her a curveball, bouncing her and about 140 other expectant moms from their first-choice hospital to another 30 minutes away. The birth unit at the Edmonds, Washington, hospital is needed for COVID-19. (Johnson and Forster, 3/26)


The Associated Press:
Chicago Uses Hotels For Quarantine To Ease Hospital Demand


Hours before his first shift cooking for people with mild cases of COVID-19 who are being quarantined in a downtown Chicago hotel, Jose Gonzalez made a plan to protect his family from the coronavirus. Chicago’s plan to reserve at least 1,000 hotel rooms through partnerships with five hotels is the first such sweeping strategy unveiled in the U.S. aimed at relieving the pressure on hospitals that are the only option for the seriously sick. (Foody, 3/25)


The Washington Post:
Some Health-Care Workers Resist Orders To Work Without Adequate Protection


Some health-care workers have begun to resist pressure to work with inadequate protection during the coming tsunami of coronavirus cases. To do so, they must buck the pandemic’s all-hands-on-deck ethos, the medical tradition of accepting elevated risk in a crisis and the threat of discipline from employers. Confrontations and difficult personal decisions are occurring as hospital administrators enforce rationing of masks, face shields and other equipment for workers worried about protecting themselves. (Bernstein and Cha, 3/25)


The New York Times:
Governors Tell Outsiders From ‘Hot Zone’ To Stay Away As Virus Divides States


Florida has a message for New Yorkers: Please don’t visit. And if you do, prepare to sit in quarantine or risk jail. Hawaii, which also thrives on tourism, is asking visitors to stay away for a month. And Alaska is requiring a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering from, as Alaskans put it, Outside. It is a rare circumstance in the United States, a country where travel between states is generally welcomed and often only noticed in counts of tourism visits, that states are suddenly looking for ways to discourage residents of other states from coming into theirs. (Mazzei, Bosman and Bogel-Burroughs, 3/25)


The Wall Street Journal:
Texas’ Coronavirus Response Is Keep It Local, As More States Move To Lockdowns


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is used to overruling the state’s major cities on a host of issues. With the new coronavirus, he is leaving it to the locals. As a result, some Texans face orders to stay inside for all but essential activities while others are still free to be out and about. Mr. Abbott is resisting calls for a statewide stay-at-home order, while cities and towns this week each make their own call over how to deal with the pandemic. (Findell, 3/25)


The New York Times:
Can You Become Immune To The Coronavirus?


As the number of people infected with the coronavirus surpasses 450,000 worldwide, and more than one billion are locked in their homes, scientists are wrestling with one of the most pressing questions of the pandemic: Do people who survive the infection become immune to the virus? The answer is a qualified yes, with some significant unknowns. That’s important for several reasons. People who are confirmed to be immune could venture from their homes and help shore up the work force until a vaccine becomes available, for example. (Mandavilli, 3/25)


Reuters:
U.S. Companies, Labs Rush To Produce Blood Test For Coronavirus Immunity


Several academic laboratories and medical companies are rushing to produce these blood tests, which can quickly identify disease-fighting antibodies in people who already have been infected but may have had mild symptoms or none at all. This is different from the current, sometimes hard-to-come-by diagnostic tests that draw on a nasal swab to confirm active infection. “Ultimately, this (antibody test) might help us figure out who can get the country back to normal,” Florian Krammer, a professor in vaccinology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, told Reuters. “People who are immune could be the first people to go back to normal life and start everything up again.” (Terhune, Martell and Steenhuysen, 3/25)


The New York Times:
Gilead Withdraws Request For Special Orphan Status On Experimental Coronavirus Treatment


Bowing to criticism that it was exploiting the coronavirus pandemic, the drugmaker Gilead said on Wednesday that it would no longer seek orphan-drug status for remdesivir, an experimental drug that is being tested as a possible treatment. The Food and Drug Administration had only granted the special designation on Monday — which gives drug companies a seven-year monopoly on sales, tax credits and expedited approval. Gilead said it asked the agency to rescind the status. (Thomas, 3/25)


NPR:
Gilead Asks FDA To Rescind ‘Rare Disease’ Status For Coronavirus Drug Remdesivir


The agency granted this status to remdesivir on Monday, prompting a backlash from public health and consumer advocates. Orphan drug designation is intended to spur development of drugs for rare diseases by bestowing drugmakers with tax breaks, FDA fee waivers and seven years without generic competitors. Although this isn’t the first time a company has asked for an orphan designation to be rescinded, it’s rare, says James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a non-profit public interest group. “Gilead must have been feeling the heat,” Love says. “I think it’s embarrassing to take something that’s potentially the most widespread disease in the history of the pharmaceutical industry and claim it’s a rare disease.” (Lupkin, 3/25)


The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Communities Struggle To Deal With Coronavirus Testing Backlogs


Despite efforts to ramp up mass testing for the new coronavirus this week, many cities and states are facing more shortages and backlogs as demand surges. Nearly a month into the outbreak, local officials are increasingly taking matters into their own hands so they can obtain critical equipment and grasp the extent of the virus’s spread in their communities. That includes working with private labs and forging direct relationships with test suppliers on the other side of the world. (Frosch, Paul and Mai-Duc, 3/25)


The Wall Street Journal:
New Coronavirus Test Tries To Reduce Risk For Health Workers By Letting Patients Swab Selves


Health-services giant UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH 6.68% is rolling out a coronavirus test that patients can self-administer, potentially reducing the risk to health-care workers as testing quickly expands around the nation. The Food and Drug Administration on Monday included the new methodology in its guidance to the nation’s medical workers. A UnitedHealth clinic in the hard-hit Seattle area began using it that day, and the company said it plans to implement the test nationwide. (Carlton, 3/26)


The New York Times:
Lawmakers Question Start-Ups On At-Home Kits For Coronavirus Testing


Three companies that rushed to market unauthorized kits for at-home coronavirus testing face new questions from lawmakers in Washington. On Wednesday, two House Democrats, Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois and Katie Porter of California, sent letters to the chief executives of Carbon Health, Everlywell and Nurx, asking them to explain their business and testing practices. The companies had marketed kits designed to allow consumers to collect their own saliva, throat swabs or deep nasal swabs at home and send the samples to labs to be tested for the virus. (Singer, 3/25)


The Wall Street Journal:
Tech’s Next Disruption Target: The Coronavirus


Silicon Valley’s technology whizzes are mobilized to fight the coronavirus, trying to hack everything from disease modeling to elder care and medical-device manufacturing. Yet it isn’t clear how best to apply the industry’s talents for on-the-fly innovation to a fast-moving pandemic, or whether the U.S.’s wellspring of disruption can make major contributions to solving society’s biggest crisis in decades. Thousands of volunteers from the tech world have begun pitching in on hundreds of hastily assembled projects over the past two weeks, as the virus ravaged Europe and spread in the U.S. (Fitch, Winkler and Seetharaman, 3/25)


Reuters:
Do More To Stop Coronavirus Price Gouging, U.S. States Tell Amazon, Walmart, Facebook


A group of 32 U.S. states have a message for the nation’s leading online platforms: You are not doing enough to stop price gouging amid the coronavirus crisis. In a letter sent on Wednesday to Amazon.com Inc, Walmart Inc, Facebook Inc and eBay Inc a bipartisan group of U.S. attorneys general outlined specific steps it wants the online platforms to take to end this practice. Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro is leading the effort along with attorneys general from the states of Connecticut, Vermont and New Mexico. (Bose, 3/25)


The New York Times:
Twitter Blocks Article Promoting ‘Chickenpox Parties’ To Stop The Coronavirus


Twitter on Wednesday temporarily locked the account of a conservative website after it promoted an article suggesting that the medical community should consider intentionally infecting people with the coronavirus at “chickenpox parties” to help slow the spread of the virus. The article, titled “How Medical ‘Chickenpox Parties’ Could Turn The Tide Of The Wuhan Virus,” argued that a “controlled voluntary infection” program could allow young people to return to work after contracting and recovering from the virus. (Levenson, 3/25)


Stat:
What We’ve Learned About The Coronavirus — And What We Need To Know


As we approach the three-month mark since we all learned about a new virus triggering serious respiratory infections in China, the amount of information that’s been gained about the new coronavirus is staggering. In 2003, when SARS first emerged in China, it took weeks for laboratories to figure out what was causing new and sometimes deadly cases of pneumonia there and elsewhere. This time, rumors of a possible new coronavirus were reported in China at the end of December, roughly the same time the country alerted the World Health Organization that it had a dangerous outbreak on its hands. By Jan. 10, the full genetic sequence of the virus had been shared with scientists around the globe. (Branswell, 3/26)


Reuters:
Smokers Likely To Be More At Risk From Coronavirus: EU Agency


Smoking can make people more susceptible to serious complications from a coronavirus infection, the European Union agency for disease control said on Wednesday, citing scientific studies, although available data is still limited. In its updated assessment of the risks caused by the coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) included smokers among those potentially most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. (3/25)


The Wall Street Journal:
Coronavirus Leaves Older Americans Cut Off: ‘We Have Been Trying To Fill That Void’


Every afternoon, Larry Levine, 94, took the bus 2½ miles from his senior-care apartment to visit his wife of 70 years, Claire Levine, who has Alzheimer’s. He usually brought flowers and stayed for dinner at the memory-care community where she lives. His visits have stopped. Twelve days ago, Mrs. Levine’s residence banned all visitors to protect them from the new coronavirus sweeping the country. That same day, Mr. Levine’s apartment building asked seniors to stay put for their own safety. “She’s there and I’m here,” he said. “She doesn’t understand this virus, why I don’t come to see her, why her children don’t come to see her.” (Ansberry, 3/25)


The New York Times:
Terror Charge For Man Authorities Say Coughed Near Woman And Said He Had Virus


A New Jersey man was charged with making a terroristic threat after he intentionally coughed near a supermarket employee and told her he had the coronavirus, the authorities said on the same day that the Justice Department warned of similar threats to spread the virus. The man, George Falcone, 50, of Freehold, N.J., was shopping for groceries at a Wegmans store in Manalapan, N.J., on Sunday evening when a worker asked him to move away from her and a food display because he was too close, the state attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, said on Tuesday. (Vigdor, 3/25)


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.



Source link

Singapore modelling study estimates impact of physical distancing on reducing spread of COVID-19 — ScienceDaily

Pandemic Pushes ESA To Put Four Science Missions On Hold