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 Monday afternoon that his administration will be distributing 50 million rapid coronavirus tests from Abbott labs to vulnerable communities such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice care agencies, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and tribal nations. Another 100 million rapid tests will go to states and territories to reopen their schools and economies. “In a short period of time, my administration has built the most advanced testing system in the world,” said Trump. “We slashed red tape and approved emergency use authorizations for 243 type of tests...I invoked the Defense Production Act and related authorities more than 100 times and distributed $171 million to expand testing production.” Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
On Monday evening, House Democrats unveiled a scaled-down version of their coronavirus relief package, which is $1.2 trillion less than the HEROES Act they passed in the spring. It includes funding for contact tracing, inspectors general offices for their oversight efforts and a second round of stimulus payments; requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to create a temporary emergency standard; and gives the Government Accountability Office access to the Small Business Administration’s data for its reviews, among other things. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin resumed negotiations on Monday and are expected to speak again on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.
Stat News obtained an organizational chart (dated July 30) from the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” to develop a coronavirus vaccine that shows military personnel outnumber civilian scientists. There are “roughly 60 military officials — including at least four generals — are involved in the leadership of Operation Warp Speed, many of whom have never worked in health care or vaccine development,” said the report on Monday. “The organizational chart also underscores which agencies are not as closely involved in the leadership of the effort: namely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
The New York Times published a deep dive on Monday about how the White House pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to play down the risk of the coronavirus and encourage schools to reopen. In one instance, “The White House seized on a bar chart the CDC distributed that week to other agencies, which showed that 60 percent of coronavirus deaths were people over the age of 75,” said the report. “Officials asked the CDC to provide a new chart to show people 18 and under as a separate group — rather than including them as normal in an under-25 category — in an effort to demonstrate that the risk for school-age children was relatively low.”
Mid-to-late stage clinical trials for Inovio's coronavirus vaccine are on hold after the Food and Drug Administration asked the pharmaceutical company for more information, which involves the delivery device to administer the vaccine into the body’s cells. Inovio said the delay is not due to any side effects from early stage trials and that it will respond to the agency’s questions in October. The FDA will have 30 days to decide whether or not to proceed with the trial, so the earliest it can begin now is November, Reuters reported on Monday
On Monday, the Defense Department, in coordination with the Health and Human Services Department, awarded a $20 million contract to On Demand Pharmaceuticals to boost domestic production for active pharmaceutical ingredients. “ODP is expected to increase the onshore production of three critical [ingredients] that ultimately form the building blocks for final formulated medicines used to treat critically ill U.S. service members and COVID-19 patients,” said the Defense Department.
The National Park Service will reopen the Washington Monument for visitors on October 1. “A comprehensive safety program has been implemented that includes timed ticketing, limited entries, physical distancing, and additional cleaning and safety measures to ensure the health and safety of visitors and employees,” said NPS in a press release on Monday.
Upcoming: President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will face off in their first presidential election debate at 9 p.m. on Fox News, in which management and leadership during the pandemic are expected to be a major feature.
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