First Edition: Aug. 28, 2020

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


Kaiser Health News:
COVID + Influenza: This Is A Good Year To Get A Flu Shot, Experts Advise 


Flu season will look different this year, as the country grapples with a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 172,000 people. Many Americans are reluctant to visit a doctor’s office and public health officials worry people will shy away from being immunized. Although sometimes incorrectly regarded as just another bad cold, flu also kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each year, with the very young, the elderly and those with underlying conditions the most vulnerable. When coupled with the effects of COVID-19, public health experts say it’s more important than ever to get a flu shot. (Appleby and Andrews, 8/28)


Kaiser Health News:
Opposition To Obamacare Becomes Political Liability For GOP Incumbents 


In the 2014 elections, Republicans rode a wave of anti-Affordable Care Act sentiment to pick up nine Senate seats, the largest gain for either party since 1980. Newly elected Republicans such as Cory Gardner in Colorado and Steve Daines in Montana had hammered their Democratic opponents over the health care law during the campaign and promised to repeal it. Six years later, those senators are up for reelection. Not only is the law still around, but it’s gaining in popularity. What was once a winning strategy has become a political liability. (Hawryluk, 8/28)


Kaiser Health News:
How To Weigh Evacuation Options With Both Wildfires And COVID At Your Door  


As the smoke thickened near her home in Santa Cruz, California, last week, Amanda Smith kept asking herself the same questions: Should we leave? And where would we go? The wildfire evacuation zone, at the time, ended a few blocks from her house. But she worried about what the air quality — which had reached the second-highest warning level, purple for “very unhealthy” — would do to her children’s lungs. Her 4-year-old twins had spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit; one was later diagnosed with asthma, and last year was hospitalized with pneumonia. (Gold, 8/28)


Kaiser Health News:
5 Things To Know About Convalescent Blood Plasma 


President Donald Trump told the American people this week that convalescent plasma is a potential new treatment for COVID-19. His announcement followed the Food and Drug Administration’s decision Sunday to grant fast-track authorization for its emergency use as a treatment for hospitalized COVID patients. This “emergency use authorization” triggered an outcry from scientists and doctors, who said the decision was not supported by adequate clinical evidence and criticized the FDA for what many perceived as bowing to political pressure. (Knight, 8/27)


Kaiser Health News and PolitiFact:
Pence Praises Trump’s ‘Seamless’ COVID Response, Leaves Out His State Feuds  


Vice President Mike Pence portrayed his boss, President Donald Trump, as a leader who has reached out across the aisle to help during the coronavirus pandemic.“President Trump marshaled the full resources of the federal government and directed us to forge a seamless partnership with governors across America in both parties,” Pence said during his speech Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention. (Greenberg, Sherman and Knight, 8/27)


Kaiser Health News and PolitiFact:
Republican Convention, Day 3: Revisionist History 


In accepting the Republican Party nomination Wednesday night, Vice President Mike Pence accurately recounted the history of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, and how a failed British bombardment in 1814 helped inspire Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Pence’s claims about the Trump administration as well as his attacks on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, on the other hand, were sometimes misleading, incomplete or wrong. (8/27)


Kaiser Health News:
KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ Replay: What’s At Stake When High Court Hears ACA Case  


The “What the Health?” panelists are taking a break for two weeks. But since the Supreme Court recently scheduled arguments in the case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, it seemed like a good opportunity to replay an episode from March, when the law turned 10. As the “What the Health?” panelists point out in this episode, that’s a milestone that many considered unlikely. The past decade for the health law has been filled with controversy and several near-death experiences. But the law also brought health coverage to millions of Americans and laid the groundwork for a shift to a health system that pays for quality rather than quantity. (8/27)


The Hill:
US Faces Long Road On COVID-19 Amid Signs Of Improvement 


Coronavirus cases nationally are falling from their July peaks and some hard-hit states are showing signs of improvement, a hopeful sign even as the country deals with about 1,000 COVID-19 deaths every day. The positive news is still dwarfed by the negative reality of the pandemic’s hold over the country. Though the situation is not as bad as it was in July, when cases peaked around 70,000 per day, the virus is still circulating around United States at a very high level, with around 40,000 new cases per day, according to the COVID Tracking Project. (Sullivan, 8/27)


The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Announces Deal With Abbott Laboratories For 150 Million Rapid Covid-19 Tests 


The Trump administration unveiled Thursday a $750 million deal to buy 150 million rapid Covid-19 tests from Abbott Laboratories, a move that would substantially expand the nation’s capacity for rapid testing. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday granted emergency-use authorization to the company for a $5 rapid-response Covid-19 antigen test that is roughly the size of a credit card. The test could be administered in a doctor’s or school nurse’s office and uses technology similar to home pregnancy tests. It returns results in about 15 minutes. (Ballhaus, 8/28)


The Washington Post:
White House Announces Deal To Provide 150 Million Rapid Coronavirus Tests 


“This is a major development that will help our country to remain open, get Americans back to work, and kids back to school!” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted late Thursday afternoon. The move is the federal government’s biggest step into testing for the virus that has killed more than 177,000 Americans and infected more than 5.8 million. Almost since the pandemic arrived on U.S. shores in January, Trump has insisted that testing was mainly the province of state and local authorities. (Bernstein and Min Kim, 8/27)


The New York Times:
White House, Under Fire For Discouraging Coronavirus Testing, Says It Will Buy Millions Of Test Kits 


The $750 million deal with Abbott came just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reportedly under pressure from top Trump administration officials, moved to discourage testing for people who don’t show Covid-19 symptoms — even if they’ve recently been exposed to the virus. Many public health experts denounced that decision, saying it would make it harder to track and fight the virus. (8/27)


Politico:
Trump Skips RNC Announcement Of Rapid Covid Tests 


The Trump administration on Thursday touted a major expansion of rapid coronavirus testing, although President Donald Trump skipped over the announcement in his prime time remarks. The administration struck a $750 million deal to acquire 150 million tests from Abbott Laboratories, which three individuals with knowledge of the announcement said are set to be deployed in nursing homes, schools and other areas with populations at high risk. POLITICO first reported the deal. (Diamond and Lim, 8/27)


AP:
What Virus? At GOP’s Convention, Pandemic Is Largely Ignored


It was a stunning scene in a country where parents and children have been laid to rest without their loved ones present, schools have gone to online-only learning and businesses have shut their doors to halt the spread of the coronavirus. On Thursday night, about 1,500 people gathered on the South Lawn of the White House so President Donald Trump could accept his party’s nomination for reelection in front of a roaring crowd. Masks were not required and chairs were placed inches apart from one another, with no room for social distancing, in violation of endless public health recommendations. Only those the White House expected to be in “close proximity” to the president and vice president had been tested for COVID-19. (Colvin, 8/28)


The Hill:
Hundreds Gather At White House For Trump Speech Despite COVID-19 Guidelines 


Hundreds of people packed the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday for President Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, flouting federal and local health guidance on the coronavirus pandemic. Roughly 1,500 guests are expected to attend, a Trump campaign official said, with lawmakers, congressional candidates, administration officials and first responders among them. Seats were mere inches apart, and few guests were spotted wearing masks in the hours before Trump took the stage. (Samuels, 8/27)


The Washington Post:
Few Masks, Little Distancing: Trump Celebrates At Crowded White House Party Largely Devoid Of Coronavirus Precautions 


President Trump celebrated his renomination Thursday with a crowded party at the White House that offered a jarring contrast with a nation that is still widely shut down over fears of the coronavirus pandemic whose spread remains uncontrolled. More than 1,500 supporters poured onto the South Lawn for his formal acceptance speech to cap the Republican National Convention, and most were not wearing masks, even though they were seated closely together in white folding chairs. (Nakamura and Dawsey, 8/27)


Politico:
‘We’re Here. They’re Not’: Trump Claims A MAGA Victory In An Ongoing Crisis 


President Donald Trump on Thursday presented a picture of America recognized mostly by his fiercest supporters. He boasted that a coronavirus vaccine would be ready by year’s end “or maybe even sooner,” even though scientists are uncertain about that pledge. He pushed businesses and schools to open, even though many still cannot do so safely. He promoted yet another “powerful” treatment — convalescent plasma — even though doctors caution the evidence is still developing. He boasted about low fatality rates, even though roughly 1,000 people are still dying of Covid-19 each day. (Kumar, 8/28)


The Washington Post:
Takeaways From Republican Convention Night Four 


The boldest promise Trump made — repeatedly — in his lengthy speech Thursday was that there would be a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year. “We are delivering lifesaving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year — or maybe even sooner,” Trump said. He added later: “We will have a safe and effective vaccine this year, and we will crush the virus.”Trump, delivering his speech from the legally problematic perch of the White House’s South Lawn, notably went further than Vice President Pence had gone the night before. Pence said merely that “we’re on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.” (Blake, 8/27)


CNN:
Kamala Harris Slams Trump’s Handling Of Coronavirus: ‘He Was Scared’ 


Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris lambasted President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in a speech Thursday designed to prebut Trump’s own appearance at the Republican National Convention hours later. Ticking through what she characterized as Trump’s early missteps, she said: “Donald Trump froze. He was scared. And he was petty and vindictive. “She said Trump was “fixated on the stock market” and “caved” to the Chinese government. (Merica, Lee, Bradner and Diaz, 8/27)


NPR:
Trump Promises Coronavirus Vaccine By End Of The Year ‘Or Maybe Even Sooner’


As the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus reached around 180,000. In his address to the RNC, President Trump pledged a vaccine for the virus by the end of the year. “In recent months, our nation and the entire planet has been struck by a new and powerful invisible enemy. Like those brave Americans before us, we are meeting this challenge. We are delivering life-saving therapies and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner,” Trump said from the White House South Lawn. (8/27)


Stat:
Trump Pledges A Covid-19 Vaccine By End Of 2020


President Trump on Thursday pledged a Covid-19 vaccine would be available by the end of 2020, the most concrete claim he has made yet about the timetable for coronavirus vaccine development. “We are delivering life-saving therapies, and will produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner,” he said. (Facher, 8/27)


Reuters:
New Reckoning For WHO Vaccine Plan As Governments Go It Alone 


The World Health Organization will next week receive a raft of pledges of support for its plan for COVID-19 vaccines for all. But the agency has already had to scale back its ambition. The United States, Japan, Britain and the European Union have struck their own deals to secure millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for their citizens, ignoring the U.N. body’s warnings that “vaccine nationalism” will squeeze supplies. (Kelland, Guarascio and Nebehay, 8/28)


USA Today:
CDC Walks Back Surprise Coronavirus Asymptomatic Testing Guidelines


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted Thursday to clarify controversial coronavirus testing guidelines published Monday that said people with no symptoms “do not necessarily need a test” even if they were exposed to an infected person. … Guidance released Thursday by CDC Director Robert Redfield says those who come in contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 patient can be tested, even if they don’t show symptoms. (8/27)


The Hill:
CDC Director Clarifies Change In Coronavirus Testing Guidelines After Backlash 


The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday issued a clarification of earlier guidance on coronavirus testing, days after a quiet change sparked protests from the scientific and medical communities. In a statement, Director Robert Redfield said those who come into contact with confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients could be tested themselves, even if they do not show symptoms of the virus. (Wilson, 8/27)


Stat:
CDC Director Attempts To Clarify Controversial Covid-19 Testing Guidelines


CDC Director Robert Redfield attempted Thursday to clarify a set of controversial changes to the agency’s Covid-19 testing guidelines. At issue are a set of guidelines released on Monday that say that people without symptoms who have come into contact with someone with Covid-19 do not necessarily need to be tested. Earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said that “testing was recommended” for the same group. (Sheridan, 8/27)


The Hill:
American Medical Association Criticizes New Trump Testing Guidance 


The American Medical Association, the country’s largest doctors group, sharply criticized the Trump administration’s new guidance that asymptomatic people do not need to be tested, warning that it will lead to “more spikes in coronavirus.” “Months into this pandemic, we know COVID-19 is spread by asymptomatic people,” Susan Bailey, president of the AMA, said in a statement. “Suggesting that people without symptoms, who have known exposure to COVID-positive individuals, do not need testing is a recipe for community spread and more spikes in coronavirus.” (Sullivan, 8/27)


The Hill:
Democrats Press CDC Director Over Coronavirus Testing Guidelines 


House Democrats are taking Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield to task over his agency’s coronavirus testing guidelines amid backlash over recent changes. Eighty-six lawmakers wrote in a Thursday letter that they have “grave concerns” over revised guidance issued this week limiting tests to those who show symptoms, a policy that swiftly garnered backlash from Democrats and health experts who underscored the role asymptomatic people play in spreading the virus. (Axelrod, 8/27)


Reuters:
California, Florida, New York, Texas Will Not Follow New U.S. COVID-19 Testing Plan 


Several large U.S. states are not heeding new federal health officials’ calls to reduce COVID-19 testing of some exposed to the virus, joining a broad rebuke of the Trump administration by public health leaders. Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey and New York all plan to continue to test asymptomatic people who have been exposed to COVID-19, despite new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggesting that such tests may not be needed. (O’Donnell, 8/27)


AP:
Idaho Weighs Whether To Adopt New CDC Testing Guidelines


Idaho’s public health officials are trying to decide whether they’ll officially adopt new CDC guidelines that no longer recommend coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people who have had close contact with infected people. Some experts said the decision could have a big impact on how coronavirus spreads in Idaho. (Boone, 8/27)


The Washington Post:
After Hurricane Laura, Concerns Mount Over Its Potential Impact On The Pandemic 


Officials on Friday were assessing the damage wrought by Hurricane Laura and its potential effects on the spread of the coronavirus. The pandemic had complicated evacuation and shelter plans before Hurricane Laura slammed ashore in southwestern coastal Louisiana early Thursday as one of the most powerful storms to strike the Gulf Coast in decades. But authorities cautioned that any potential impact on infection rates won’t be known for days to come. “We’re basically going to be blind for this week because we’ll have to discontinue much of our community-based testing,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said before the hurricane made landfall, citing the disruption of testing in the region. (Noori Farzan and Noack, 8/28)


The Wall Street Journal:
New U.S. Coronavirus Cases Rise, As Hurricane Laura Affects Testing 


Gov. John Bel Edwards said during an interview with MSNBC Thursday that Hurricane Laura, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm, was going to complicate efforts to contain Covid-19, and that it has been a significant challenge to deal with a natural catastrophe during the pandemic. … On Thursday, Louisiana reported 723 new coronavirus cases and 23 additional deaths—a reminder, Mr. Edwards suggested, of the continuing toll of the pandemic.“We don’t know the death total from the storm, but thus far it’s four,” Mr. Edwards said. “Today alone, 23 related to Covid. So that should underscore what we all know but maybe lost sight of because of the hurricane: that we are still in a Covid environment.” (Prang, Bauerlein and Calfas, 8/27)


NPR:
COVID-19 Complicates Response To Hurricane Laura, Spurs Fears Of New Outbreaks 


Texas and Louisiana were already struggling to contain the spread of the coronavirus when Hurricane Laura hit early Thursday, and now some experts are warning mass evacuations could be responsible for a new wave of infections. More than half a million people were ordered to leave parts of those states in the largest evacuation since the coronavirus pandemic began. Many who heeded those warnings were directed to stay in government-paid hotel rooms or sleep in their cars since officials didn’t want to open mass shelters and risk the spread of COVID-19. (Raphelson, 8/27)


NPR:
Chemical Fire Burns Near Lake Charles, La., In Aftermath Of Hurricane Laura


A chemical plant in Westlake, La., that caught fire during Hurricane Laura is still burning Thursday evening.The facility, BioLab Inc., makes chlorine for swimming pools. Officials are unsure exactly when the fire started, but Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) Press Secretary Greg Langley said his agency was informed of the fire around 9 a.m. local time. (Dean, Wendland and Westwood, 8/27)


NPR:
FEMA Assesses Hurricane Damage, Taking COVID-19 Precautions 


The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday that while the impact of Hurricane Laura was less catastrophic than initially predicted, the storm significantly damaged many communities and remains a threat to parts of several Southern states still in its path. FEMA officials said on a call with reporters that it is working to assess the damage and distribute aid to people in need — while taking precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Treisman, 8/27)


Politico:
‘We’re Not Budging’: Efforts To Restart Coronavirus Talks Sputter 


An effort to restart stalled coronavirus negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House went nowhere Thursday, with the top House Democrat saying the talks are fruitless until GOP negotiators agree to a massive $1 trillion concession. Pelosi had little new to say after a 25-minute phone conversation with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Thursday afternoon, the first communication between the two since the coronavirus relief talks collapsed in early August. (Caygle, 8/27)


The Wall Street Journal:
Coronavirus-Aid Talks Limp Along Between Democrats, White House 


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats would be willing to accept a slightly smaller coronavirus-aid package than their previous offer, but said they remained at an impasse with the White House. Mrs. Pelosi indicated that a 25-minute call she had with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows hadn’t eased the monthslong stalemate over the next tranche of coronavirus aid. (Peterson, 8/27)


The New York Times:
How Dr. Fauci Found Himself Talking To Julia Roberts, Lil Wayne And Just About Any Podcaster Who Asked 


On March 15, as the novel coronavirus was beginning to surge in the United States, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci accomplished a rare Washington feat: He appeared on all five major Sunday talk shows. But the White House worried that Dr. Fauci might upstage (and sometimes contradict) President Trump, and soon his media handlers were no longer approving his high-profile interview requests. So Dr. Fauci found another way to get his message out: He said yes to pretty much every small offer that came his way: academic webinars, Instagram feeds and niche science podcasts, as well as a few celebrity interviews. (Bui, Sanger-Katz, Gay Stolberg, Weiland and Bennett, 8/27)


AP:
US Detaining More Migrant Children In Hotels Despite Outcry


The Trump administration has sharply increased its use of hotels to detain immigrant children as young as 1 before expelling them from the United States during the coronavirus pandemic despite facing outcry from lawmakers and human-rights advocates. Federal authorities said they detained 577 unaccompanied children in hotels through the end of July, up from 240 in April, May and June, according to a report published late Wednesday from a court-appointed monitor for detained immigrant youth. (Merchant and Sanon, 8/27)


The Washington Post:
Medicaid Contracts Would Shift Poor D.C. Residents’ Health Care Amid Pandemic 


The D.C. Council is scrutinizing a move by the Bowser administration that would reshuffle health coverage for hundreds of thousands of the District’s sickest and poorest residents. At a hastily scheduled meeting on Thursday, lawmakers grilled administration officials about the city’s plan to cut costs by assigning all Medicaid patients to managed-care plans and splitting them randomly among three health-care providers: MedStar, AmeriHealth and CareFirst. (Zauzmer, 8/27)


The Washington Post:
Citing Reports About Use Of Hydroxychloroquine In Nursing Homes, Senators Call For Federal Probe 


Fearing the experimental use of hydroxychloroquine went “unchecked” in nursing homes struck by the coronavirus, three U.S. senators are calling on federal authorities to determine whether providers improperly treated patients, failed to disclose serious side effects or faced any repercussions from regulators responsible for oversight of the industry. In a letter sent Thursday to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pointed to state inspection reports that cited nursing homes for treating residents with the antimalarial drug without the consent of patients or their family members. (Cenziper, 8/27)


CIDRAP:
Review Of COVID Studies Links Increased Death To Hydroxychloroquine Plus Azithromycin


A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies involving COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine found that the antimalaria drug alone was not associated with reduced mortality in hospitalized patients, but when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin it was linked with significantly increased mortality, European researchers reported yesterday in Clinical Microbiology and Infection. The researchers looked at 29 studies published up until Jul 25, including 3 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 1 non-randomized trial. After excluding 11 studies with critical risk of bias, the meta-analysis included 11,932 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine, 8,081 treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, and 12,930 who received neither drug. The investigators compared mortality between patients treated with hydroxychloroquine and those treated with the standard of care, as well as death rates with hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin. (8/27)


Stat:
Some Covid-19 Survivors Feel Stalked By Possibility Of Reinfection 


Since Covid-19 flattened him in Southern California in late June, Jarrod Castillo fears that every tickle in his throat and every twinge of pain in his limbs means he’s getting sick again. On Long Island, the thought of enduring the illness a second time fills Sadie Nagamootoo with such dread, she gets sick to her stomach. In upstate New York, where Martha Barrera suffered for more than two months with crushing respiratory symptoms, the idea of reinfection gives her such panic, she’s unable to enter a supermarket. (Glaser, 8/28)


CIDRAP:
Comparison Of COVID-19 Antibody Tests Reveals Wide Range Of Performance


An evaluation of assays to detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has found a wide range of performance, underscoring the need for rigorous test validation with standardized sample sets. The study, published today in Nature Biotechnology, involved a comparison of 10 point-of-care lateral flow assays (LFAs) and two lab-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) in 5-day intervals from symptom onset. Specificity was determined using blood samples donated before the pandemic. (8/27)


The Washington Post:
Six Feet May Not Be Enough To Protect Against Coronavirus, Experts Warn 


Public health experts are reevaluating guidelines for safe social distancing amid growing evidence that the novel coronavirus can travel farther than six feet under certain conditions. A team of infectious-disease experts argues in a new analysis, published this week in the BMJ, that six-feet protocols are too rigid and are based on outmoded science and observations of different viruses. Other researchers say six feet is a start — but only a start, warning that more space is almost always better, especially in poorly ventilated areas indoors. (Guarino, 8/27)


AP:
More College Students In Quarantine As COVID-19 Cases Rise


As more universities open, they’re collecting and releasing COVID-19 data and grappling with contingency plans for those who contract the disease.The University of Virginia in Charlottesville released its first set of COVID-19 testing data on Wednesday. There have been 58 total positive cases at the university since Aug. 17, including 31 students. The university’s quarantine rooms are currently 5% occupied and the isolation rooms are not occupied. (Fleischman, 8/27)


AP:
9 Greek Houses At University Of Kansas Told To Quarantine


Health officials ordered residents of nine University of Kansas fraternity and sorority chapter houses to quarantine for two weeks following a coronavirus outbreak on campus. The university opened its fall semester Monday with in-person classes and offered free testing for students, faculty and staff. By Tuesday, 222 people had tested positive out of 19,452 test results received, for a positivity rate of 1.1%, according to the university. But the rate among fraternities and sororities was nearly 5.5%, with 133 Greek members testing positive. Updated results will be released Friday. (Hanna and Hollingsworth, 8/27)


AP:
Hogan Urges All Schools To Plan Some In-Person Instruction


Maryland’s COVID-19 health metrics have improved enough for all schools to have some in-person instruction this fall, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday. All of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions are starting the school year with online instruction, but 16 of them plan some in-person school instruction for K-12 this fall. Hogan said it “doesn’t make any sense” for eight jurisdictions to not have plans to return students to the classroom. Still, Hogan said it will remain up to local school officials to decide. (Witte, 8/27)


The New York Times:
Reopened Schools Find Health Risks In Water After Covid-19 Lockdowns 


The new coronavirus is not the only illness that teachers, students, parents and staff will have to worry about as some schools attempt to reopen this fall. Legionella could lurk in the water supplies of school buildings, and some measures to keep people in schools safe from coronavirus may even increase risks from deadly illnesses caused by the bacteria. Last week in Ohio, officials found Legionella at five schools in an assortment of towns. On Friday, a district in Pennsylvania also announced it had found Legionella at four of its schools. (8/27)


CNN:
Peach Recall Expanding Over Possible Salmonella Contamination After 78 Sickened In 12 States 


A peach recall has expanded to include loose peaches and peach products after 78 people were sickened in 12 states by salmonella poisoning linked to the fruit, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Of the 78 reported cases of illness traced back to the potentially tainted fruit between June 29 and Aug. 3, 23 victims were hospitalized, the CDC reported. No deaths have been reported. Victims ranged in age from one to 92 years old. (Erdman, 8/27)


AP:
Bars, Taverns To Remain Closed In Las Vegas, Reno


Bars and taverns in the Las Vegas and Reno areas will remain closed after Clark and Washoe counties didn’t offer new proposals Thursday to the state task force responsible for approving virus prevention plans. The task force kept existing plans in place in counties flagged as high-risk. Meanwhile, bars can remain open in Lander County and all of Nye County except Pahrump. (Metz, 8/27)


AP:
The Mirage Joins Vegas Hotels Open After Coronavirus Hiatus


Another iconic Las Vegas Strip resort has joined casinos that have reopened since being closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Mirage reopened Thursday in what MGM Resorts International chief executive Bill Hornbuckle called a step toward economic recovery for employees and the community. (8/27)


AP:
2 Inmates From Same Oregon Prison Die On Same Day


Two inmates from the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution died of COVID-19 within hours of each other, prison officials said Thursday. The deaths on Wednesday bring the total of COVID-19 fatalities in Oregon’s prisons to five, according to the Oregon Department of Corrections. (8/28)


The New York Times:
Charles Cook, Ground Zero Volunteer For Months, Dies At 79 


Mr. Cook died on Aug. 19 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He was 79. His brother, Dan Cook, said the cause was complications of pancreatitis and gall bladder disease. Charles Cook had respiratory problems from his extensive time at ground zero, and he had also recovered from Covid-19, his brother said, but neither appeared to have played a direct role in his death. (Seelye, 8/27)


AP:
Report: Hawaii Auditors Stonewalled In Contact Tracing Probe


A report from Hawaii’s state auditor’s office says Department of Health officials stonewalled them while attempting to get answers about the government’s coronavirus contact tracing program. The report, which was released Wednesday, says the auditor’s office “encountered barriers, delays, and ultimately were denied access to those responsible for leading the department’s contact tracing.” (Jones, 8/28)


The Washington Post:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Resigns, Citing Ill Health 


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he had decided to resign because of illness, after weeks of speculation about the conservative leader’s political future following recent visits to the hospital.In a news conference in Tokyo, Abe told reporters that he had been “struggling” with his health, which had begun to deteriorate in mid-July, and he was ready to call time on his leadership of the world’s third-largest economy. (Denyer and Crawshaw, 8/28)


Reuters:
Japan, Eyeing Olympics, Lines Up Half-Billion Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine 


Japan is making an aggressive move to grab enough coronavirus vaccine to inoculate its population four times over, a push the government hopes will instil confidence that it can host a delayed summer Olympics next year. Like other rich countries, Japan is signing multiple deals because some of the vaccines could fail in clinical trials or require more than one dose, an approach some experts consider prudent. But Japan has something else riding on a successful mass rollout of a vaccine: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s enduring aim to bring thousands of athletes and fans to Tokyo for the Games in 2021, after the event fell through this year due to the pandemic. (Swift, 8/28)


USA Today:
How’d Your Country Handle COVID? Americans, Brits Have Worst Responses


United by a common language and high levels of political polarization, the USA and United Kingdom stand out in a new survey as two nations whose populations are split over how well their governments handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Across 14 mostly European countries, people were canvassed for attitudes about whether their leaders did a good job responding to the coronavirus: 52% of Americans and 54% of Britons have a negative or “bad” impression, according to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” that carried out the survey of advanced economies. (Hjelmgaard, 8/27)


Reuters:
UK Transport Minister: ‘It Is Now Safe To Return To Work’ 


Britain’s government will urge people to return to offices and other workplaces where it is safe to do so to help the economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Friday. “Our central message is pretty straightforward: we are saying to people it is now safe to return to work,” he told LBC radio. (8/28)


AP:
Costa Rica Counts Some COVID-19 Cases Without Tests


Costa Rica has adopted a less strict method of counting people infected with the new coronavirus, suddenly adding thousands of new cases to the country’s COVID-19 totals. The new “nexus” criteria adopted this month count people who show symptoms of the disease and who had direct contact with someone who tested positive, even if they were not tested themselves. (Cordoba, 8/27)


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



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