First Edition: Sept. 22, 2020

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


Kaiser Health News:
It’s Not Just Insulin: Lawmakers Focus On Price Of One Drug, While Others Rise Too 


Michael Costanzo, a Colorado farmer diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2016, has a well-honed ritual: Every six months, he takes an IV infusion of a medicine, Rituxan, to manage his disease, which has no cure. Then he figures out how to manage the bill, which costs thousands of dollars. For a time, the routine held steady: The price billed to his health insurance for one infusion would cost $6,201 to $6,841. Costanzo’s health insurance covered most of it, and he paid the rest out-of-pocket. (Pradhan, 9/22)


Kaiser Health News:
Rural Hospitals Teeter On Financial Cliff As COVID Medicare Loans Come Due 


David Usher is sitting on $1.7 million he’s scared to spend.The money lent from the federal government is meant to help hospitals and other health care providers weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet some hospital administrators have called it a payday loan program that is now, brutally, due for repayment at a time when they still need help. Coronavirus cases have “picked up recently and it’s quite worrying,” said Usher, chief financial officer at the 12-bed Edwards County Medical Center in rural western Kansas. Usher said he would like to use the money to build a negative-pressure room, a common strategy to keep contagious patients apart from those in the rest of the hospital. (Tribble, 9/22)


NPR:
CDC Publishes — Then Withdraws — Guidance On Aerosol Spread Of Coronavirus


For a few days, researchers who have suspected aerosol transmission for months cheered the update as a long-overdue acknowledgment of accumulating evidence for how the virus transmits, particularly in indoor spaces. Now the page has reverted to what it said before — that the virus spreads between people in close contact through respiratory droplets. The page makes no mention of aerosol transmission. (Wamsley, 9/21)


Politico:
CDC Backtracks On Warning That Coronavirus Is Airborne 


“This was an error on the part of our agency and I apologize on behalf of the CDC,” John Brooks, chief medical officer for the CDC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response, during a call Monday with providers and state and local health officials. “We weren’t ready to put it up.” The agency’s website now emphasizes the risk of close person-to-person contact, as it before the change Friday. That is “the main mode” of transmission, Brooks said. (Ehley, 9/21)


The New York Times:
Advice On Virus Transmission Vanishes From C.D.C. Website 


Experts with knowledge of the incident said on Monday that the latest reversal appeared to be a genuine mistake in the agency’s scientific review process, rather than the result of political meddling. Officials said the agency would soon publish revised guidance. … Still, the reversal prompted rebukes from even the C.D.C.’s staunchest supporters. “It’s not something that instills a lot of confidence, right?” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University. “It doesn’t help at all.” (Mandavilli, 9/21)


Fox News:
CDC Deletes Coronavirus Airborne Transmission Guidance, Says Update Was ‘Draft Version’ 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a correction on its website Monday, saying a draft of proposed changes, including guidance on airborne transmission of coronavirus, was posted in error .“A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website. CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the updated language will be posted,” as written on the website, and emailed to Fox News by Jason McDonald on the CDC media team. (Rivas, 9/21)


The Washington Post:
No Matter What The CDC Says, Here’s Why Many Scientists Think The Coronavirus Is Airborne. 


It was the latest disorienting turn in a scientific debate with enormous public consequences for how we return to schools and offices. The debate is over whether the extreme infectiousness and tenacity of the coronavirus is due to its ability to spread well over six feet, especially indoors, in small particles that result from talking, shouting, singing or just breathing. Many experts outside the agency say the pathogen can waft over considerably longer distances to be inhaled into our respiratory systems, especially if we are indoors and air flow conditions are stagnant. (Guarino, Mooney and Elfrink, 9/21)


USA Today:
NIH Staffer Who Called COVID-19 ‘Massive Fraud’ Outed, Will Retire


The National Institutes of Health said on Monday that a public relations staffer who had been using a pseudonym on a conservative website to attack Dr. Anthony Fauci, who runs the agency, and discount the seriousness of the coronavirus will retire. The Daily Beast first identified and  reported that William B. Crews was also the managing editor of right-leaning website RedState where, under the fake name “streiff,” derided the government’s work against the coronavirus outbreak, calling it “massive fraud.” (Behrmann, 9/21)


The New York Times:
N.I.H. Official Departs After Anonymous Posts Attacking Public Health Leaders 


The National Institutes of Health said on Monday that one of its public affairs officers would retire after he was revealed to be surreptitiously attacking his employer and one of its directors, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, in pseudonymous posts on Twitter and the right-wing website RedState. The official, William B. Crews, worked for and promoted the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases while simultaneously denouncing the agency’s work and its director, Dr. Fauci, dismissing their research and public health advice in wild and conspiratorial terms under the pen name Streiff. (Montague, 9/21)


The Washington Post:
NIH Staffer To Retire After He Was Exposed As The Blogger Behind Anti-Fauci, Anti-Mask Stories


A public-affairs specialist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will retire after revelations that he used a pseudonym online to savage the government response to the covid-19 pandemic — including the work of Anthony S. Fauci, who heads that agency, an NIAID spokeswoman said Monday. William Crews told NIAID officials he will retire after the Daily Beast revealed he is also the managing editor of the conservative website RedState.com, where, under the pseudonym “streiff,” he has ridiculed the government’s activity against the coronavirus outbreak, according to the NIAID spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified because the matter involves personnel. (Bernstein, Izadi and Barr, 9/21)


Politico:
Trump Administration Shakes Up HHS Personnel Office After Tumultuous Hires 


The Trump administration on Monday removed the top two liaisons between the White House and the health department, leaving HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s chief of staff as the de facto personnel chief, according to three people with knowledge of the situation. White House Liaison Emily Newman and her deputy Catherine Granito will be shifting full-time to the Voice of America’s parent organization, the United States Agency for Global Media, HHS chief of staff Brian Harrison told senior staff on Monday. (Diamond, 9/21)


CNN:
US Coronavirus: The Country’s ‘Divisive State’ Is Hurting Covid-19 Response, Fauci Says


One of the things that’s getting in the way of clear and consistent messaging when it comes to Covid-19 in the US is the country’s current divided state, Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “We are in such a divisive state in society that it tends to get politicized,” the country’s leading infectious disease expert said Monday night on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” “It’s almost the one side versus the other,” Fauci said. (Maxouris, 9/22)


The Washington Post:
Threats And Invective Hurled At Health Director Who Sought To Postpone Trump’s Tulsa Rally, Emails Show 


Three days before President Trump’s first indoor campaign rally during the coronavirus pandemic — at an arena in Tulsa in June — the director of the Tulsa Health Department marveled at the wave of abuse that was cresting in his direction. “It’s been crazy since the announcement of the presidential rally,” Bruce Dart wrote to Lori Freeman, a colleague who led an association of local public health officials. “It’s amazing how people strike out against anyone who they assume is not supportive of the president instead of listening to our messaging around staying safe in this pandemic.” (Partlow, 9/21)


Politico:
RCMP Probe Underway Into Contaminated Letter Addressed To White House 


Canadian police are conducting an operation near Montreal related to an investigation into an envelope addressed to the White House that reportedly contained the poison ricin. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Monday on Twitter that its “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team” is leading the operation in the suburb of Saint-Hubert. Local police and firefighters are also on site. (Blatchford, 9/21)


AP:
Ginsburg’s Death Exposes Fragility Of Health Law Protection


ith COVID-19 the newest preexisting condition, the Obama-era health law that protects Americans from insurance discrimination is more fragile following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.A week after the presidential election, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on an effort backed by President Donald Trump to strike down the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, in its entirety. Former President Barack Obama’s landmark law bars insurers from turning away people with health problems, or charging them more. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/21)


The Washington Post:
Are More Women Getting IUDs After RBG’s Death? 


When news broke that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died at age 87, Pooja Patel, a 27-year-old living in D.C., called her sister and cousin. “I was like, okay, RBG died, it means the Supreme Court is going to be controlled by conservatives, that changes everything,” she said. By the end of the call, she’d convinced both to do what she had been begging them to since the 2016 election: get an IUD. (Cirruzzo, 9/21)


Politico:
Wisconsin Campaign Memo: Biden Ignores SCOTUS, Slams Trump On Covid 


As the Supreme Court debate raged in Washington, Joe Biden went to Wisconsin Monday and gave it nary a mention. Instead, the former vice president focused on Covid-19 and the economy. He highlighted the 200,000 deaths and counting on Trump’s watch. “I worry we risk becoming numb to the toll it’s taken on us and our country and communities like this,” Biden said in a speech in Manitowoc, Wis., a small city in the Green Bay media market about 45 minutes from Packers HQ. Biden criticized Trump for downplaying the virus, which the president admitted he did to Bob Woodward, before later arguing that he didn’t want the country to panic. (Korecki, 9/21)


Stat:
Biden Toes The Line On Covid-19 Vaccine Messaging 


To Joe Biden and his campaign allies, it’s a straightforward distinction: They trust vaccines. They just don’t trust President Trump, who has undercut the expertise of U.S. scientific agencies since Covid-19 first arrived. But at least for the remainder of Trump’s first term, it can be difficult to pick apart the two, leaving Democrats in a precarious spot: Either they endorse any vaccine’s use regardless of Trump’s track record, in hopes of fostering crucial public buy-in, or they suggest any vaccine approval could be politically motivated — and risk doing further damage to Americans’ trust in immunizations, regardless of when they’re approved. (Facher, 9/22)


The Hill:
Government Watchdog Finds Supply Shortages Are Harming US Coronavirus Response 


Shortages of supplies and equipment are harming the U.S.’s COVID-19 response almost six months into the pandemic, a government watchdog said in a report issued Monday. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that states are still facing shortages of protective equipment and testing supplies because of high global demand and the limited production of those items within the U.S, despite “numerous, significant efforts” taken by the federal government. (Hellmann, 9/21)


The Wall Street Journal:
Medicare Wouldn’t Cover Costs Of Administering Coronavirus Vaccine Approved Under Emergency-Use Authorization 


Medicare wouldn’t cover the cost of administering any coronavirus vaccine approved for emergency use, leaving Trump administration officials exploring options to quickly fix the government’s plan to make the vaccine free for all Americans. Lawmakers in March passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, which ensures free coronavirus vaccine coverage, including no out-of-pocket costs for people on Medicare. But Medicare doesn’t cover costs for drugs approved under emergency-use designations. (Armour, 9/21)


Stat:
64 Wealthy Nations, Minus The U.S., China, Back Covid-19 Vaccine Initiative


Countries representing about 64% of the world population have signed up to expand global access to Covid-19 vaccines by funding a purchasing pool organized by the World Health Organization and other nonprofit groups, leaders of the effort announced Monday. Not among the countries: the United States, which had previously said it is not taking part in the so-called COVAX Facility, or Russia nor China, both of which have already issued emergency use licenses for Covid-19 vaccines. (Branswell, 9/21)


The Washington Post:
Coronavirus Vaccine: WHO’s Covax Plan Lays Out How Vaccine Will Be Distributed 


The World Health Organization on Monday urged more wealthy countries to join its vaccine agreement — and provided details about how a vaccine, when it is developed, will be doled out. More than 150 countries, representing 64 percent of the world’s population, have agreed to participate in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, which aims to develop and distribute $2 billion in doses of a vaccine by the end of next year. (Rauhala, 9/21)


Reuters:
Exclusive: ‘We’re Confident’ – Russia To Share Legal Risks Of COVID-19 Vaccine 


Russia is so confident in its COVID-19 vaccine that it will shoulder some of the legal liability should anything go wrong, rather than requiring buyers to take on the full risk, the head of the state fund bankrolling the project told Reuters. The decision leaves the vaccine’s state-backed developers open to potentially costly compensation claims should there be any unexpected side-effects. It is something many vaccine-makers have sought to avoid, by asking for full indemnity – complete protection from liability claims – from nations they sell to. (Ivanova and Boadle, 9/22)


Reuters:
Chinese State-Backed Firm Expects Coronavirus Vaccine Approval For Public Use Within Months 


State-backed vaccine maker China National Biotec Group (CNBG) is hopeful of two of its novel coronavirus vaccine candidates receiving conditional regulatory approval for general public use within the year, its vice president said on Tuesday. China has inoculated hundreds of thousands of people under an emergency programme authorised in July for essential workers and other limited groups of people considered at high risk of infection, to stave off a resurgence of the coronavirus, even as clinical trials of vaccines are still underway to prove their efficacy and safety. (9/22)


Stat:
In Normal Times, It Takes Six Years To Get New Antivirals Out The Door


Researchers may be racing to develop new Covid-19 treatments, but normally it has taken slightly more than six years, on average, to test new anti-viral medicines and then win U.S. regulatory approval, according to a new analysis of medicines approved over the past two decades. In fact, between clinical trials and regulatory reviews, the combined time to win Food and Drug Administration approval for all anti-infective medicines between 2000 and 2019 was longer — slightly more than seven years. (Silverman, 9/21)


The Atlantic:
What COVID-19 Does To The Heart 


Autopsies have found traces of the coronavirus’s genetic material in the heart, and actual viral particles within the heart’s muscle cells. Experiments have found that SARS-CoV-2 can destroy lab-grown versions of those cells. Several studies have now shown that roughly 10 to 30 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had high levels of troponin—a protein released into the blood when the heart’s muscle cells are damaged. Such patients are more likely to die than others with no signs of heart injury. (Yong, 9/21)


USA Today:
COVID-19 Survivors May Need To Get Screened For Heart Damage: Doctors


While COVID-19 is known as a respiratory infection, there’s emerging evidence linking it to heart damage, too. Cardiologists are seeing patients with signs of inflammation and scar formation in their hearts even after recovery from COVID-19, experts say. For that reason, anyone who plans on participating in vigorous exercise and was sick with COVID-19 for three or more days should get a cardiac screening before working out or participating in their sport, said Dr. Steven Erickson, medical director for Banner University Sports Medicine and Concussion Specialists in Phoenix. (Innes, 9/21)


The Hill:
Dengue Exposure May Provide Some COVID-19 Immunity, Researchers Say


Exposure to the mosquito-borne illness dengue fever may provide some immunity against COVID-19, Reuters reported Monday, citing a new study. The not-yet-published study analyzed the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil and found a link between the spread of the virus and past outbreaks of dengue fever, according to the newswire. (Klar, 9/21)


The Wall Street Journal:
How To Ventilate Your Home To Fight Coronavirus, Wildfire Smoke


Healthy air in homes is a bigger concern than ever. Evidence that Covid-19 spreads through the air means that those spending time indoors—even at home—might be at risk of exposure. The virus, along with added threats from wildfire emissions in the Western U.S., are prompting calls for new ventilation measures in dwellings. Using filters, fans, air purifiers and open windows can help. Here, experts weigh in on ways to improve your home’s ventilation to combat viruses as well as outdoor and indoor pollutants. (Dizik, 9/21)


The New York Times:
Drinking Coffee Tied To Better Outcomes In Colon Cancer Patients 


Drinking coffee may extend survival time in people with colorectal cancer, a new study suggests. Researchers studied 1,171 patients diagnosed with advanced or metastatic colon or rectal cancer who could not be treated with surgery. The patients completed diet and lifestyle questionnaires, including information about their coffee consumption, at the start the study. (Bakalar, 9/22)


The New York Times:
For Older People, Reassuring News In The Statin Debate 


Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, already one of the most popular medications worldwide, may become even more widely used as evidence grows of their safety and value to the elderly and their potential benefits beyond the heart and blood vessels. Among the latest are reports of the ability of several leading statins to reduce deaths from common cancers and blunt the decline of memory with age. Perhaps such reports will persuade a reluctant 65-year-old friend who has diabetes, and others like him, that taking the statin his doctor strongly advised is a smart choice. (Brody, 9/21)


The Wall Street Journal:
New PTSD Treatments Emerge As Cases Rise Among Some Groups 


As the pandemic grinds on, psychologists and psychiatrists are bracing for rising rates of post traumatic stress disorder. The concern comes as a wave of potential treatments for PTSD are on the horizon. Psychologists and psychiatrists say new treatments for PTSD, some of which involve combining psychotherapy and drugs, are sorely needed, as some Covid-19 survivors and front-line workers grapple with the disorder. (Peterson, 9/21)


Stat:
Legend Biotech CEO Detained In China As Part Of Investigation 


Legend Biotech’s man in charge will be working from home for the time being. The Chinese company announced Monday that its CEO and chairman, Frank Zhang, has been detained by Chinese customs as part of an investigation involving Genscript Biotech, Legend’s majority shareholder and former parent company. Current CFO Ying Huang has been named interim CEO, effective immediately. (Chan, 9/21)


Stat:
Keytruda Rules The Immunotherapy Market, But Challengers Are Lining Up


Keytruda is the immunotherapy king. In the U.S., the Merck anti-PD1 checkpoint inhibitor is approved to treat 16 cancers and has 26 indications overall. Sales were $11 billion in 2019 and $6.7 billion through the first half of this year. Keytruda is not only the most successful cancer drug ever developed, but it ranks among the best medicines ever. (Feuerstein, 9/22)


Stat:
Senators Urge Judge To Prevent Purdue From Paying CEO Bonus


A group of U.S. senators is urging a bankruptcy judge to prevent Purdue Pharma from paying its chief executive officer, Craig Landau, a bonus worth up to $3.5 million, because he may have overseen “criminal activity” during his tenure at the infamous opioid maker. Earlier this year, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain decided that Purdue was justified in giving Landau a bonus because it would help to keep him at the company, where he has been chief executive since June 2017. (Silverman, 9/21)


Houston Chronicle:
Young Houston Doctor Dies After Fighting For Her Life In ICU With COVID


A Houston doctor died early Saturday after fighting for her life in an intensive care unit since becoming infected with COVID-19 in July, according to a statement from her family. Adeline Fagan, a 28-year-old New York native who was completing her second year of residency as an OB-GYN in Houston, tested positive for the infection in early July before her condition worsened and she became hospitalized. (Serrano, 9/19)


AP:
‘I Miss Mommy’: Families Shattered By COVID Forge New Paths


Just four months had passed since Ramon Ramirez buried his wife and now, here he was, hospitalized himself with COVID-19. The prognosis was dire, and the fate of his younger children consumed him. Before ending his final video call with his oldest, a 29-year-old single mother of two, he had one final request: “Take care of your brothers.” Before long, he was added to the rolls of the pandemic’s dead, and his daughter, Marlene Torres, was handed the crushing task of making good on her promise. Overnight, her home ballooned, with her four siblings, ages 11 to 19, joining her own two children, 2 and 8. (Sedensky, Kennedy and Crary, 9/21)


USA Today:
‘You Are Not Your Disease’: COVID-19 Long Haulers Find Hope In Recovery Program


Jenny Berz was infected with the coronavirus in March after returning from a trip to Hawaii.The 50-year-old wife and mother from Boston never received a positive test for COVID-19, but she had all the standard symptoms: fever, chills, body aches and shortness of breath. … Throughout her illness she experienced gastrointestinal, cognitive and pulmonary symptoms. She had asthma attacks, lost her sense of smell and had a burning sensation in her arms, also known as neuropathy. “Somewhere along the way, I had everything,” she said. Jenny Berz, 50, had to go to the emergency room while sick with COVID-19.
Berz is one of the many so-called COVID-19 long haulers, who suffer through symptoms months after their initial diagnosis. Many fear they will never recover. A new treatment program originally intended for geriatric patients has showed promising results for these long-suffering COVID-19 patients. (Rodriguez, 9/21)


Stat:
Charting The Pandemic Over The Next 12 Months — And Beyond


Think back through the pandemic. Think about the moments that stand out as beacons in the haze — signposts of how it would change all of our lives. Not all of these moments were clear at the time. China’s decision to shut down cities of millions of people in January was staggering, but to most Americans, this new coronavirus remained an ocean away, not something that would demand our own version of a lockdown. (Joseph, 9/22)


Time:
The Evictions Crisis Is A Mental Health Crisis, Too


Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Marlenis Zambrano is out of money. A 48-year-old single mother in Virginia, she tried her best to get by after being furloughed from her Defense Department daycare job in March by selling homemade face masks and empanadas to help support her two dependent children, both in college. She twice applied for housing relief from Arlington County, but was denied because, at the time, she had $5,000 in savings intended for her daughter’s tuition. (De la Garza, 9/21)


Stat:
Many Children With Mental Health Conditions Don’t Get Follow-Up Care


A large new study finds that mental health care for many children in the U.S. falls far short, particularly when it comes to the follow-up treatment they receive. The study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined insurance claims from children between the ages of 10 and 17 covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield. Of the more than 2 million children included in the study, nearly one in 10 had a claim related to mental illness between 2012 and 2018. (Gopalakrishna, 9/22)


NPR:
Tropical Storm Beta Brings New Flood Risk To Texas Coast And Louisiana 


Tropical Storm Beta’s heavy rainfall and slow movement is raising the risk of flooding “from the middle Texas coast to southeast Louisiana,” the National Weather Service said. Beta is heading for a part of Louisiana where electricity service for thousands of people hasn’t recovered from being knocked out by Hurricane Laura last month. Some isolated areas could see 15 inches of rain. … The storm could bring a life-threatening storm surge. Areas from Port Aransas to Sabine Pass, Texas, are under a surge warning. The worst-hit spots are projected to see water rise 2 to 4 feet above normal levels, the hurricane center said. The warning zone centers on Matagorda Bay and Galveston Bay, but it extends south near Corpus Christi and north to the Louisiana border. (Chappell, 9/21)


AP:
Hollywood Unions Announce Pandemic Agreement


Hollywood’s unions have announced that they have reached an agreement on pandemic protocols with major studios that will allow the broad resumption of production of films and television after six months of stagnant sets and widespread unemployment. The Directors Guild of America, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Basic Crafts unions and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists on Monday jointly announced the deal reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers after months of planning and negotiating. (9/22)


The Washington Post:
Sidewalks, Streets And Parks Provided A Respite From Coronavirus Closures. But Winter Is Coming. 


Peer into a backyard in Columbia Heights and a quartet plays. Walk down the waterfront on the Wharf and a masked instructor stretches into downward-facing dog. Dine on 17th Street NW and massage chairs sprawl across turf grass. This was summer in the District — disease and desolation punctured by pockets of joyful commerce, spread across sidewalks, street corners and public parks. (Davies, 9/21)


The Washington Post:
Norwegian, Royal Caribbean Send CDC New Guidelines For Return To Sailing 


On the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention withdrew updated covid-19 guidance stating that the coronavirus is airborne and can spread in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, a panel of experts assembled by cruise giants Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line outlined its recommendations to the CDC for a potential safe return to cruising. The guidelines, which were filed on the final day of a two-month CDC window for public comments relating to cruise ship travel, include a new focus on “air management” in addition to lower capacities, shorter sailings, required testing and masks, and enhanced cleanings and medical staff on voyages. (McMahon, 9/21)


The Hill:
Cruise Lines To Give Coronavirus Tests To All Passengers And Crew To Restart Sailing In U.S. 


Cruise lines said they plan to test all passengers and crews for the coronavirus before boarding ships as they prepare to resume sailing in the U.S. The Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group that represents 95 percent of global ocean-going cruise capacity, shared the plan Monday as cruise lines prepare to start sailing again after pausing trips amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press reported. (Klar, 9/21)


The Washington Post:
NFL Fines Pete Carroll, Kyle Shanahan, Vic Fangio For Mask Violations 


The NFL fined three coaches — Seattle’s Pete Carroll, San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan and Denver’s Vic Fangio — $100,000 apiece for violating the league’s directive to wear masks on the sideline during games, according to a person familiar with the penalties. The Seahawks, 49ers and Broncos also were fined $250,000 each, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity Monday night because the NFL had made no formal announcement of the fines. (Maske, 9/22)


USA Today:
Dee Snider Scolds Anti-Mask Parade Of People In MAGA Gear Playing Twisted Sister Song At Florida Target


A group of people who oppose wearing masks took them off at a Florida Target store, blasting and singing the 1984 hit Twisted Sister song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The small but vocal group approached customers inside the Fort Lauderdale store [last] week.” Take your masks off. We’re not doing it. Take off your masks. We’re not going to take it anymore,” the group shouted, pumping their fists in the air, some wearing “Make America Great Again” gear. “We’re Americans, breathe,” a woman yelled. “It’s all a lie!” Dee Snider, the frontman of the 1980s metal band, tweeted in response to the viral video, scolding the group: “No … these selfish (expletive) do not have my permission or blessing to use my song for their moronic cause.” The stunt drew quick action from Broward County officials. Target was fined for not enforcing the county’s mask law, and citations were mailed to the protesters, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. (Tyko, 9/17)


Politico:
Schools Reopen For Fraction Of New York City Students


New York City public schools reopened on Monday for up to 90,000 children — a small fraction of the city’s 1.1 million public school students but the first time any in-person classes have been held since the coronavirus pandemic took hold in March. Pre-kindergarten students and those with advanced special needs were the only students to return to school buildings. … The city’s online learning platforms also experienced glitches on the first day of classes, with the Department of Education’s log-in page crashing at around 9 a.m., said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. He said it was fixed in about 10 minutes. (Durkin, Toure and Mahoney, 9/21)


The New York Times:
Coronavirus Upends College Admissions Tests, Creating Chaos For Students 


After a spring and summer when most opportunities to take college admissions tests were lost to the pandemic, many students were counting on taking the ACT on Saturday, one of the first big standardized testing dates of the fall. But once again, disaster intervened. More than 500 ACT testing centers across the country were closed because of the coronavirus, the wildfires on the West Coast, or both. Students hoping to take the test at one center in Reno, Nev., learned it was closed only after arriving to find a sign taped to a nearby car: “Canceled due to poor air quality.” (9/21)


Fox News:
Coronavirus Surge Possibly Linked To Labor Day Gatherings In This Area: Officials 


Gatherings over Labor Day are possibly behind a recent surge in cases of the novel coronavirus in Los Angeles County, officials there recently said. On Saturday, officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced 13 new deaths and 1,343 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total number of positive cases to 259,817 and the total number of virus-linked deaths to 6,330. (Farber, 9/21)


The Washington Post:
Hawaii Will Reopen To Tourists Oct. 15 


Travelers can finally return to Hawaii starting next month. Beginning Oct. 15, travelers can visit the islands if they take a coronavirus test, and test negative, within 72 hours before arriving in the state to avoid a 14-day quarantine once there, Gov. David Ige (D) said during a news conference last week.


AP:
Texas Begins Relaxing Some COVID-19 Restrictions


Texas on Monday began relaxing some coronavirus restrictions, including allowing restaurants to let more people inside. Gov. Greg Abbott announced the changes last week. Bars though still remain closed indefinitely and a mask mandate is still in place following a massive summer spread that became one of the deadliest outbreaks in the U.S. (9/21)


USA Today:
Wynn Las Vegas Says 548 Employees Have Tested Positive For COVID-19


Wynn Las Vegas has logged almost 500 positive COVID-19 cases among employees since the resort reopened in June. Wynn Resorts on Thursday revealed the data tied to the company’s testing and contact tracing program, which tests groups of up to 700 employees every two weeks, reports the Reno Gazette Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. With the help of University Medical Center, the company has conducted 15,051 tests, aiming to catch any employees who are positive for the virus but asymptomatic. (Komenda, 9/17)


The Washington Post:
UK To Face 50,000 New Cases A Day By October If Trend Continues, Say Scientists 


Britain could face 50,000 coronavirus cases a day by mid-October if it stays on its current trajectory, top government scientists warned Monday. In a rare televised address from 10 Downing Street, Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief scientific adviser, and Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said the number of coronavirus cases is doubling roughly every seven days. (Adam, 9/21)


The New York Times:
U.K.’s Boris Johnson To Order Pubs And Restaurants To Close Early 


Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain plans to impose new restrictions on nightlife, including the forced early closure of pubs and restaurants in England, as he ramps up the country’s efforts to curb a rising tide of coronavirus infections. Pubs and restaurants will be restricted by law to offering table service only and must close at 10 p.m., beginning on Thursday, Downing Street said late on Monday; ordinarily, there is no mandatory closing time, though many close at 11 p.m. The new rules are the most stringent since restaurants, pubs and many other businesses were allowed to emerge from full lockdown in July. (Castle, 9/21)


AP:
As Europe Faces 2nd Wave Of Virus, Tracing Apps Lack Impact


Mobile apps tracing new COVID-19 cases were touted as a key part of Europe’s plan to beat the coronavirus outbreak. Seven months into the pandemic, virus cases are surging again and the apps have not been widely adopted due to privacy concerns, technical problems and lack of interest from the public. Britain, Portugal, and Finland this month became the latest to unveil smartphone apps that alert people if they’ve been near someone who turned out to be infected so they can seek treatment or isolate – a key step in breaking the chain of contagion. (Chan, 9/22)


The Washington Post:
Critic Of China’s Coronavirus Response Is Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison 


China on Tuesday sentenced an outspoken critic of President Xi Jinping to 18 years in prison on graft charges, signaling Beijing’s determination to crush dissent. Ren Zhiqiang, 69, a former real estate tycoon turned prominent political critic, has been a marked man since February, when he wrote an essay criticizing Beijing’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and called Xi a “clown with no clothes.” He was placed under investigation by the Chinese Communist Party in April. (Dou, 9/22)


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