First Edition: Sept. 18, 2020

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

Kaiser Health News:
Election Gift For Florida? Trump Poised To Approve Drug Imports From Canada 

Over the objections of drugmakers, the Trump administration is expected within weeks to finalize its plan that would allow states to import some prescription medicines from Canada. Six states — Colorado, Florida, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Vermont — have passed laws allowing them to seek federal approval to buy drugs from Canada to give their residents access to lower-cost medicines. (Galewitz, 9/18)

Kaiser Health News:
Wildfires’ Toxic Air Leaves Damage Long After The Smoke Clears  

When researchers arrived in this town tucked in the Northern Rockies three years ago, they could still smell the smoke a day after it cleared from devastating wildfires. Their plan was to chart how long it took for people to recover from living for seven weeks surrounded by relentless smoke. They still don’t know, because most residents haven’t recovered. In fact, they’ve gotten worse. (Houghton, 9/18)

Kaiser Health News:
A Pandemic Upshot: Seniors Are Having Second Thoughts About Where To Live 

Where do we want to live in the years ahead? Older adults are asking this question anew in light of the ongoing toll of the coronavirus pandemic — disrupted lives, social isolation, mounting deaths. Many are changing their minds. Some people who planned to move to senior housing are now choosing to live independently rather than communally. Others wonder whether transferring to a setting where they can get more assistance might be the right call. (Graham, 9/18)

Kaiser Health News:
In Face Of COVID Threat, More Dialysis Patients Bring Treatment Home 

After Maria Duenas was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about a decade ago, she managed the disease with diet and medication. But Duenas’ kidneys started to fail just as the novel coronavirus established its lethal foothold in the U.S. On March 19, three days after Duenas, 60, was rushed to the emergency room with dangerously high blood pressure and blood sugar, Gov. Gavin Newsom implemented the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order. (de Marco, 9/18)

Global COVID-19 Total Closes In On 30 Million

The global total today approached 30 million COVID-19 cases, as cases in India continued to accelerate and flare-ups in Europe prompted targeted measures. In addition, World Health Organization (WHO) officials warned of the impact on healthcare workers, part of the observance of World Patient Safety Day. The global total climbed to 29,976,621 cases, and 942,758 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard. (Schnirring, 9/17)

USA Today:
Global Cases Surpass 30M; Moderna Targets November For Candidate Vaccine; 790K More Americans File For Unemployment

The worldwide total of known COVID-19 cases surpassed 30 million on Thursday and global fatalities crept closer to one million, both signs of the virus’ continuing global impact.The World Health Organization said cases are surging again in Europe, with more than half of European countries seeing a 10% or greater spike in cases in the past two weeks. COVID-19 is also disproportionately affecting healthcare workers, according to WHO data.  (Flores, Miller and Shannon, 9/17)

The New York Times:
C.D.C.’s Contentious Testing Guidance On Covid-19 Was Not Written By Its Scientists 

A heavily criticized recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month about who should be tested for the coronavirus was not written by C.D.C. scientists and was posted to the agency’s website despite their serious objections, according to several people familiar with the matter as well as internal documents obtained by The New York Times. The guidance said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus. It came at a time when public health experts were pushing for more testing rather than less, and administration officials told The Times that the document was a C.D.C. product and had been revised with input from the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield. (9/17)

The Hill:
Controversial CDC Guidelines Were Written By HHS Officials, Not Scientists: Report 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that advised people without COVID-19 symptoms not to get tested were written by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials, not scientists, The New York Times reported Thursday. The controversial guidance published Aug. 24 was posted despite scientists’ objections to the contents, according to several people familiar with the matter and internal documents obtained by the Times. (Coleman, 9/17)

Gulf Between White House’s Words, Trump’s Actions On Masks

White House officials insist that President Donald Trump strongly supports face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and always has. But the president’s own words and actions tell a very different — and sometimes puzzling — story. That’s created a gulf between Trump and public health officials that keeps widening six months after the virus took root in the U.S., with the president undercutting medical experts who say consistent face covering is one of the best tools to fight the pandemic. (Superville and Maadhani, 9/17)

Trump’s Attacks Highlight CDC’s Stumbles On Public Health Messaging

Robert Redfield’s statement was unambiguous: A Covid-19 vaccine, he said, might not be available to much of the American public until mid- or late 2021. But in the next 10 hours, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came under attack from President Trump, attempted to walk back his prior statement by plainly mischaracterizing his own words, and then, inexplicably, retracted his own reversal. (Facher, 9/17)

Vaccine Distribution Isn’t As Easy As Trump Wants People To Think

President Donald Trump is suggesting a coronavirus vaccine can be delivered widely in a matter of weeks. But states ultimately tasked with leading the distribution effort are already confronting a host of logistical and supply chain challenges that could dash the Trump administration’s hopes of quickly distributing a vaccine once it’s approved. State and federal officials must ensure providers are equipped to administer a vaccine that needs to be kept at extremely cold temperatures, as one of the leading vaccine candidates would require. States are also missing out on desperately sought federal funding to hire and train staff to administer the shots, as they’re also trying to amass basic supplies. Some states may also rely on a new, untested federally designed system to track who’s getting shots and manage supplies. (Roubein and Goldberg, 9/17)

‘More Dire Than We Think’: Health Officials Brace For Trump Diatribes 

For months, Michael Caputo worked vigorously behind the scenes to shape the health department’s pandemic messaging by contradicting career scientists, disputing coronavirus research and prioritizing President Donald Trump’s electoral fortunes.But within hours of Caputo’s abrupt departure for medical leave on Wednesday, Trump went out and did much the same thing – only in public and from the White House briefing room. (Cancryn, 9/17)

Trump’s Allies Back Up His Attacks On CDC Chief 

President Donald Trump’s congressional allies and White House aides backed his rebuke of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on Thursday, insisting they trusted the president over the nation’s top public health official on matters of face masks and vaccine development. “If I just take the words of the CDC and the president, the president is right,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said at a news conference, pledging that the U.S. would “have a safe and effective vaccine this year.” (Forgey, 9/17)

The Hill:
Azar To Testify Before House Coronavirus Subcommittee 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will appear in front of the House Oversight and Reform Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis as his agency faces a whirlwind of controversies. The panel’s chairman, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) announced Thursday that Azar will appear in front of the committee on Oct. 2 to testify on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Axelrod, 9/17)

The Guardian:
US Health Official Laments ‘Politicization’ Of CDC After Trump And Redfield Spat 

A prominent public health official on Thursday lamented the politicization of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after a public spat a day earlier between Donald Trump and the CDC director, Dr Robert Redfield, a medical doctor, over masks and a Covid-19 vaccine. The president said Redfield was “confused” about the timeline for a coronavirus vaccine and attacked Redfield over his assertion that masks are “the most important, powerful public health tool we have” to combat coronavirus. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday that there was no doubt about which man was confused. “The doctor is right” about masks, Jha said. (McCarthy, 9/17)

Ex-Pence Aide Blasts Trump Over Covid Response, Says She’ll Vote For Biden 

In an ad released on Thursday, a former senior adviser on the White House coronavirus task force lambasted President Donald Trump as a stonewalling, capricious leader with more concern for his reelection than the pandemic, and said she would be voting for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in November. Olivia Troye, who worked as an adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security to Vice President Mike Pence before leaving the administration in August, appeared in an ad in which she shared damning anecdotes that portrayed Trump as a debilitating actor in the administration’s efforts to contain the virus. She said Trump was dismissive toward the task force’s efforts to prepare for the outbreak from early in the year, before the virus had made heavy inroads into the U.S. (Choi, 9/17)

The Hill:
Trump Coronavirus Adviser Threatens To Sue Stanford Researchers 

Scott Atlas, one of President Trump’s coronavirus advisers, is threatening to sue a group of Stanford doctors and researchers after they penned a public letter calling out “falsehoods” and “misrepresentations” of science around COVID-19. Atlas, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who has questioned the science of wearing masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, has made claims that “run counter to established science” and undermines public health authorities by doing so, 78 researchers and doctors wrote in the Sept. 9 letter posted on Stanford’s website. (Hellmann, 9/17)

Biden Rejects Trump Claim That COVID-19 Vaccine Is Imminent 

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Thursday bluntly contradicted President Donald Trump’s suggestion that a coronavirus vaccine may be only weeks away, warning Americans they cannot trust the president’s word. “The idea that there’s going to be a vaccine and everything’s gonna be fine tomorrow – it’s just not rational,” Biden said during a CNN town hall in Moosic, Pennsylvania. (Ax, 9/17)

At Town Hall, Biden Blasts Trump’s ‘Criminal’ Virus Response

Joe Biden on Thursday went after President Donald Trump again and again over his handling of COVID-19, calling Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic “criminal” and his administration “totally irresponsible.”“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton. (Jaffe and Weissert, 9/18)

The Washington Post:
Joe Biden’s CNN Town Hall: An Occasional Whopper 

A Joe Biden town hall does not hit the Pinocchio meter as much as a Donald Trump town hall. Biden tends to stick close to the facts but occasionally gets carried away with some over-exuberance. Here are five claims that caught our attention during his CNN town hall in Moosic, Pa., moderated by Anderson Cooper. (Kessler and Rizzo, 9/17)

The Washington Post:
Biden Takes Questions And Criticizes Trump In Drive-In Town Hall; Trump Holds Rally In Wis. 

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden addressed voters near his native Scranton, Pa., expressing disgust with President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus and his comments about the military. It was the first ever drive-in town hall event, with socially distanced voters asking questions at a minor league baseball field.In what at times seemed to be a test run for the first presidential debate in a week and a half, Biden leaned heavily on his middle-class roots as he touted policies that would help frontline workers, took pride in not having an Ivy League degree, and argued for fracking to continue. (Itkowitz, Linskey, Viser, Scherer, Sonmez and Wagner, 9/17)

The Hill:
Biden Says Trump Should Step Down Over Coronavirus Response 

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said President Trump should step down over his coronavirus response during a town hall just outside of Scranton, Pa., on Thursday evening. “This is all about one thing, the stock market. He doesn’t want to see anything happen,” Biden said, answering a question about how he would get the right messaging out to Americans on how to protect themselves amid the pandemic. (Manchester, 9/17)

The Hill:
Biden Rips Barr’s Comments On Coronavirus Restrictions As ‘Sick’ 

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden slammed Attorney General William Barr’s recent comments about coronavirus restrictions on Thursday, calling the remarks “sick” during a town hall. Barr said Wednesday in northern Virginia that coronavirus restrictions are the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” since slavery. (Manchester, 9/17)

USA Today:
Trump To Skip In-Person Trip For United Nations General Assembly

President Donald Trump will not attend the United Nations General Assembly in person next week, a White House official said Thursday – the latest display of how the coronavirus pandemic is upending U.S. diplomacy. The annual meeting usually draws world leaders to New York for several days and Trump has often used his address to frame his foreign policy in domestic terms. Last year, for instance, Trump asserted that the “future does not belong to globalists.” (Fritze, 9/17)

Roll Call:
House Postpones Vote To Decriminalize Marijuana Until After Election

House Democrats’ plan to vote on legislation decriminalizing marijuana before the November election went up in smoke Thursday, as leadership decided to postpone consideration of the measure amid concerns about the political optics.Some of the more moderate Democrats in the caucus, including ones considered vulnerable for re-election in November, had expressed reservation about voting on the marijuana bill this month when Congress still had not passed another coronavirus relief package. (McPherson, 9/17)

The Wall Street Journal:
House Democrats Postpone Vote On Decriminalizing Marijuana 

The bill, originally set for a vote next week, would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving it up to states to determine its legality. The legislation would also expunge some criminal records and impose a 5% federal tax on cannabis products to help fund programs in communities impacted by the war on drugs. The vote would have been the first measure to decriminalize marijuana to have come up on the House floor. It wasn’t expected to proceed to the Senate or become law. (Ngo and Andrews, 9/17)

House Punts Marijuana Vote 

The MORE Act would remove federal penalties for marijuana, erase some criminal records and create grant programs for people affected by the War on Drugs. House leaders had said earlier this month the bill would come to a vote the week of Sept. 21. Over the last few days, however, they raised pushing it to later in the year to concentrate on getting a coronavirus deal done before the election. … A vote on the House floor for such a bill would be historic. The bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act — which classifies it as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Until this Congress, such a measure had never passed a House committee, let alone come to a vote before the full chamber.
The bill would remove federal penalties on marijuana and then let states decide if they want to legalize. (Ferris and Fertig, 9/17)

Congress Starts Its Weekend No Closer To A Coronavirus Deal 

Democrats and Republicans appeared even further away from a coronavirus relief deal on Thursday, despite mounting calls from rank-and-file lawmakers — and even President Donald Trump — for action. With no mood for deal-making in either party, the House and Senate are leaving for the weekend with no progress on an agreement, casting further doubt that Congress can muster the political will to adopt another massive economic stimulus measure before the November election. (Ferris, Caygle and Bresnahan, 9/17)

The Hill:
Pelosi: ‘Hard To See’ Democrats Supporting Less Than $2.2T In COVID-19 Aid 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said that she’s hopeful the parties will reach an agreement on the next round of coronavirus relief but suggested Democrats aren’t prepared to accept anything less than her last offer — $2.2 trillion — on a deal. “When we go into a negotiation it’s about the allocation of the resources,” she told reporters in the Capitol. “But it’s hard to see how we can go any lower when you only have greater needs.” (Lillis, 9/17)

Democrats Lose Control Of Marijuana Messaging 

Removing federal penalties for marijuana looked like an easy win for Democrats two weeks ago, but the momentum has stalled.Democrats have been scared off by Republicans’ use of the marijuana bill to bludgeon Democrats on the lack of a coronavirus deal, and moderates in tight races worry it will be linked to hits they’re already taking over the “defund the police” movement. So instead of embracing the progressive messaging of this bill as an election win, House leaders are now thinking about punting marijuana until after November 3. (Fertig, 9/17)

The Hill:
White House Nixed Postal Service Plan To Send Face Masks To Every Household In US: Report 

The White House rejected a U.S. Postal Service proposal to send face masks to every household in the U.S., according to The Washington Post. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reportedly suggested the idea in April, proposing five reusable masks be delivered to every residential address and prioritizing areas with the worst coronavirus outbreaks. The Postal Service also prepared a news release saying it would send the first shipments to Louisiana’s Orleans and Jefferson parishes, according to a draft obtained by the Post. (Budryk, 9/17)

The Washington Post:
Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks USPS Operational Changes Amid Concerns About Mail Slowdowns, Election 

A federal judge in Washington state on Thursday granted a request from 14 states to temporarily block operational changes within the U.S. Postal Service that have been blamed for a slowdown in mail delivery, saying President Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are “involved in a politically motivated attack” on the agency that could disrupt the 2020 election. (Viebeck and Bogage, 9/17)

First Lady Promotes Trump’s Approach To Opioid Crisis In NH

First lady Melania Trump used her first solo trip outside Washington since before the start of the coronavirus pandemic to showcase a piece of her “Be Best” youth well-being initiative on Thursday in a state her husband is hoping to win in November.The first lady toured Concord Hospital in New Hampshire’s capital city with James Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in an effort to highlight the hospital’s treatment programs for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. Mrs. Trump, who has focused many of her public efforts on health issues such as the nation’s opioid crisis, tweeted earlier in the day that the appearance was a nod to Recovery Month. (Whittle, 9/17)

The New York Times:
Coronavirus Vaccine: Moderna And Pfizer Reveal Secret Blueprints Trials 

Two drug companies that are leading the race to develop coronavirus vaccines bowed to public pressure on Thursday, abandoning their traditional secrecy and releasing comprehensive road maps of how they are evaluating their vaccines. The companies, Moderna and Pfizer, revealed details about how participants are being selected and monitored, the conditions under which the trials could be stopped early if there were problems, and the evidence researchers will use to determine whether people who got the vaccines were protected from Covid-19. (Grady and Thomas, 9/17)

The Washington Post:
Vaccine Companies Reveal Their Study Designs, Even As Trump Sows Confusion

President Trump stood before a televised audience Wednesday and proclaimed that “results are very good” for vaccines targeting the novel coronavirus. A day later, Moderna and Pfizer, two front-runner drug companies developing a shot, released the full rule books for their studies, revealing that no one yet knows conclusively whether a vaccine is safe and effective — not even company executives. Trump’s imprecise, extemporaneous comments about vaccines have frequently clashed with messages from government officials, outside scientists and companies. That discord has intensified concerns that political pressure will force a vaccine to be prematurely approved but also has sown public confusion as important public health messages have become entangled with politicians’ appeals to voters and companies’ communications to shareholders. (Johnson, 9/17)

The Wall Street Journal:
Covid-19 Vaccine Study Results Could Come Late October, Moderna CEO Says 

A large, pivotal study of Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine could yield a preliminary answer about whether the shot works safely as early as October, though it’s more likely to be November, the company’s leader said.Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said in an interview the timing will depend on rates of infection in the U.S. locations where the trial is being conducted, because the study is comparing whether fewer vaccinated people come down with symptomatic Covid-19 than unvaccinated people. (Loftus, 9/17)

Roll Call:
Exclusive: States Plan To Independently Vet COVID-19 Vaccine Data 

State officials are expressing skepticism about federal reviews of potential COVID-19 vaccines, with some going so far as to plan to independently analyze clinical trial data before distributing a vaccine in a sign of how sharply trust in federal health agencies has fallen this year. The wariness, which public health experts call highly unusual if not unprecedented, could undercut the goal of a cohesive national immunization strategy and create a patchwork of efforts that may sabotage hopes of containing the coronavirus. (Kopp, 9/17)

Facebook Cracking Down On Groups That Give Health Advice

Facebook on Thursday announced new policies that will limit the spread of groups on its social network that focus on giving users health advice, as well as groups with ties to violence. The company will no longer show health groups in its recommendations, saying a blog post that “it’s crucial that people get their health information from authoritative sources.” In the past, closed groups have been used by Facebook users to spread misinformation about vaccines and Covid-19. (Rodriguez, 9/17)

The Washington Post:
Coronavirus Testing In Children Limited By Several Factors 

It is a nightmare repeatedly playing in parents’ minds: Their child is welcomed back to their classroom, but in the excitement the kids get too close to one another, sharing germs. The children may not have coronavirus symptoms or be able to express that they are not feeling well, unwittingly spreading the virus as they continue to go to school or come into contact with adults. (Kornfield, 9/17)

Harvard Business Review:
Why The U.S. Still Has A Severe Shortage Of Medical Supplies

It may be hard to believe after all these months, but the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical health care supplies for dealing with the pandemic in the United States still haven’t been solved. Instead, they continue and some have gotten worse. Hospitals, nursing homes, and medical practices routinely have to waste time and heighten their disease exposure by decontaminating disposable masks and gloves for reuse. Many organizations must still forage for critically needed equipment through back channels and black markets. And while the supply of ventilators is no longer an issue, shortages of ICU medications and test-kit reagents remain.The reason is that a slew of glaring supply-chain deficiencies have yet to be fixed. (Finkenstadt, Handfield and Guinto, 9/17)

The Hill:
Democratic Senator Calls For ‘More Flexible’ Medical Supply Chain To Counter Pandemics 

The U.S. needs a “more flexible” medical supply chain that balances a reliance on trade partners and domestic reserves to successfully tackle the pandemic and prepare for future ones, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said Thursday. “I think we have to be most worried about China these days, especially given the way in which our relations are deteriorating on a daily basis,” Murphy said at The Hill’s “Lessons from a Pandemic: Reliable Access to Affordable Medicines” event. (Bautista, 9/17)

Fox News:
Scientists May Know Where Coronavirus Originated, Study Says 

Months into the coronavirus pandemic, researchers are still investigating the actual event where the crossover of the novel coronavirus from animals to humans occurred. A team of scientists may have discovered the answer to the question many have been asking for months, according to a study published in Nature Microbiology. The group of scientists from the United States, China, and Europe compared mutation patterns of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to other viruses, and created an evolutionary history of the related viruses. They discovered the lineage responsible for producing the virus that created the COVID-19 pandemic has been present in bats, according to the study. (McGorry, 9/17)

What The U.S. Did Wrong On Covid-19 — And What Others Did Right

Some governments have been praised for being forthright about being science-driven in the way they’ve communicated about the Covid-19 pandemic. Other countries, most notably the U.S. and the U.K., have been hit with criticism for public health messages that are confusing or not based in science. (Robbins, Garde and Feuerstein, 9/18)

Three Lessons From Covid-19 On Accelerating Biopharma Innovation 

The health care research ecosystem has shifted into overdrive in response to Covid-19, sparking unprecedented speed and agility. The economic and public health burdens it has generated demand that we rethink our approach to developing new vaccines and therapies. Researchers are now examining what we can learn from these experiences and more broadly apply this innovation to research and development in the future. (White, 9/18)

The Wall Street Journal:
Why Did Covid Overwhelm Hospitals? A Yearslong Drive For Efficiency 

Banner Health had figured out how to get ahead in the modern health-care industry.The Phoenix-based nonprofit hospital system relentlessly focused on costs. It trimmed labor, the largest expense for any hospital. Last year, it carried 2.1% fewer employees for every bed filled, compared with the year before. It also moved away from pricey hospital settings. Visits at free-standing clinics and surgery centers grew 12% in 2019, while its hospital emergency rooms were flat.The result was a financial powerhouse with $6.2 billion in cash and investments and a bond rating that is the envy of corporate financial officers.But when the pandemic hit, the strategies that had helped it become a model for other hospital systems suddenly became weaknesses. (Gold and Evans, 9/17)

The New York Times:
Coronavirus May Increase Premature Births, Studies Suggest 

Pregnant women who are infected with the coronavirus and hospitalized are at risk for developing serious complications, and may face an elevated risk for delivering their babies prematurely, according to new studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They may also be at greater risk of losing the pregnancy or having a stillbirth. The troubling findings are consistent with some earlier reports that pregnant women may be at increased risk for severe illness when they become infected with the new coronavirus. But some experts warned that the findings, drawn from relatively small numbers of patients, including many hospitalized because of Covid-19, may not be representative of all pregnant women who are infected. (Rabin, 9/17)

The Guardian:
US Reinfection Case Raises Question: How Long Does Covid Immunity Last? 

Virologists largely expected reinfection could occur. But experts said the US reinfection case highlights the enduring mysteries of the coronavirus, including how long a person’s immune system protects against the virus after an infection and the virus’s interaction with individual biology. Reinfection cases are important also for the development of vaccines and assessing their impacts as the world’s medical community races to develop them. (Glenza, 9/17)

The Hill:
Eyeglasses May Help Protect Against Coronavirus: Study 

Eyeglasses could offer additional protection against transmission of coronavirus, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology. Researchers found that of 276 patients admitted to a Wuhan, China hospital over 47 days, only 16 wore glasses. The city was the original epicenter of the virus, which is believed to have originated in a so-called “wet market” there. Researchers hypothesized glasses may reduce susceptibility to the virus by discouraging wearers from touching their faces or helping block transmission of the virus through the tear ducts. (Budryk, 9/17)

High COVID-19 Viral Load In Hospital Patients Tied To Higher Risk For Death

High SARS-CoV-2 viral load at hospital admission may place patients with and without cancer at higher risk for death, a new multicenter observational study published in Cancer Cell suggests. Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine used surrogate markers to measure the viral load of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, in 100 cancer patients and 2,914 patients without cancer admitted to one of three New York City hospitals from Mar 15 to May 14. (9/17)

State Treasurers Urge Gilead To Lower The Price Of Remdesivir

Nearly a dozen state treasurers are asking Gilead Sciences (GILD) to lower the price of its experimental remdesivir treatment for Covid-19, arguing the company is attempting to market an “old drug at prices that are disconnected from economic reality.” In a letter to Gilead chief executive Daniel O’Day, the state officials cautioned that Gilead should not take “financial advantage” of the pandemic to pursue “unreasonable profits” because it “sets a dangerous precedent for future treatments in development.” (Silverman, 9/17)

Boston Globe:
After Expanding Its IPO, Amwell Is Set To Start Trading

Taking advantage of a pickup in demand for new stocks, American Well Corp. expanded its initial public offering Wednesday, locking in a price that valued the Boston telehealth technology company at $4.1 billion. The company, also known as Amwell, said it raised $742 million by selling 41.2 million class A shares at $18 apiece, after increasing the price and number of shares offered. Amwell had planned to sell 35 million shares at $14 to $16 a share, according to a filing last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (Edelman, 9/17)

42 Badger Players, Staff Test Positive For Coronavirus

Forty-two players and staff with the Wisconsin football team have tested positive for COVID-19 as the Big Ten makes plans to get the season started.Public Health Madison & Dane County says the 42 people tested positive since June when athletes and staff returned to campus. Twenty-nine of the positive tests were from Sept. 1 through Sept. 15. (9/17)

The Washington Post:
Fan At Chiefs-Texans NFL Season Opener Tests Positive For Coronavirus, 10 Quarantined 

A fan who attended the NFL’s season-opening game last week at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., tested positive for the novel coronavirus the following day, leading the Kansas City Health Department to direct 10 people to quarantine for potential exposure to the virus. The positive test and quarantines were announced Thursday by the city’s health department. The account was confirmed by the Kansas City Chiefs, who hosted the Houston Texans in the game Sept. 10. (Maske, 9/17)

The Hill:
University Of Georgia Defends Decision To Allow Football But Not Voting On Campus 

The University of Georgia is defending a decision to go ahead with football but not on-campus voting. “Those comparing this matter to a football game should be able to recognize that football games will be played outdoors but we will still require social distancing by substantially reducing capacity in the stadium,” the university said in a statement on Wednesday. (Budryk, 9/17)

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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