President Trump speaks during a media briefing in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House on Sunday.

President Trump speaks during a media briefing in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House on Sunday. Alex Brandon / AP

Coronavirus Roundup: Second Term Trump Agenda Seeks to ‘Return to Normal’ in 2021

There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.

President Trump announced on Sunday evening that the Food and Drug Administration issued emergency authorization for convalescent plasma treatment for the coronavirus. The New York Times reported last Wednesday that the FDA was about to issue emergency approval of the treatment, but then put it on hold the previous week because top public health officials (such as Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci) said the data on the trials was not strong enough. FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said at the briefing on Sunday that while officials are still going to collect more data, “this clearly meets the criteria that we've established for emergency use authorization, and we're very pleased with these results.” Here are some other recent headlines from over the weekend and today you might have missed. 

Prior to the announcement, the president tweeted on Saturday, “the deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” and accused the agency of delaying the process until after the November election. 

Then an FDA press release announcing the treatment approval on Sunday said this is “another achievement in the administration's fight against pandemic.” Kaiser Health News Chief Washington Correspondent Julie Rovner tweeted that was “not a normal headline” for the agency and she has “been getting FDA releases since the Reagan admin[istration].” This comes amid concerns that the Trump administration is exerting political pressure on the agency to make decisions before there is sound data and evidence. 

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed the recommendation to quarantine for 14-days upon return from out-of-state travel or international trips, USA Today reported. The agency still advises individuals to take public health precautions while traveling and notes that “travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19.” 

The Defense Department announced on Friday four new actions under the 1950 Defense Production Act totaling $17.4 million. They are for laser electronics, aircraft engine repair, diagnostic tests and satellite communications.

A bill introduced in the House on Monday would force the administration to cover all costs for the National Guard’s approximately 25,000 coronavirus-related deployments. Texas, Florida, Arizona, California and Connecticut are the only states still receiving full funding. “This administration needs to learn that it is responsible for every state and territory in our nation, not just the ones it hopes to curry favor from,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., the lead sponsor of the bill, Politico reported.

Amid the pandemic and re-election campaign, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conaway announced late on Sunday that she is leaving her post at the end of the month. She said in a statement that her children attending school remotely “requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times” and that the decision was solely hers. 

On Sunday night, the Trump campaign released its second term agenda, which includes eradicating the coronavirus. The specific priorities include: developing a vaccine by the end of 2020, producing all medical supplies and equipment in the United States and preparing the national stockpile for a future pandemic, and returning to “normal” in 2021. 

Overseas citizens and military members have been voting by mail for years, but there could be challenges during this election due to international travel disruptions amid the pandemic, The Washington Post reported on Saturday. “Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic occurring around the globe, we recommend that you contact your Military Post Office or local post offices regarding possible delivery delays before mailing your voted ballot,” the Federal Voting Assistance Program said on its website.

Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode is about unique challenges for rural areas during the 2020 census count, which has been complicated by the pandemic. 

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