There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
President Trump tweeted early on Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for coronavirus after Hope Hicks, an adviser who traveled with them on Air Force One on Wednesday night, tested positive. “The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch and I appreciate the support provided by some of the country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions,” said White House Physician Sean Conley, in a memo published at 1:05 a.m. “Rest assured, I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering and I will keep you updated on any future developments.”
The New York Times reported on Friday mid-morning that the president has “mild” symptoms so far. This comes in the heat of campaign season, 32 days from the election. Here are some other recent headlines you might have missed.
House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House were not able to come to an agreement on an economic relief package. The House passed a slimmed down version of the HEROES Act on Thursday night, but the Senate is not expected to take that up.
On Thursday, the Justice Department inspector general launched an interactive dashboard to track coronavirus cases, deaths, testing and trends among Federal Bureau of Prisons staff and inmates. “We believe providing this data to the public will supplement our remote inspection reports and enhance transparency about BOP’s response to the pandemic,” said Justice IG Michael Horowitz. As of Friday morning, there were 1,995 active cases among inmates and 703 among staff.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif., introduced a bill on Thursday that would require weekly coronavirus tests for BOP inmates and staff. "The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging out of control in federal correctional facilities, and the Department of Justice's current efforts to prevent the virus' spread in federal prisons and jails is woefully insufficient,” Warren said. “That is why Congresswoman Barragán, Senator Booker and I are introducing necessary legislation to address the spread of coronavirus and keep incarcerated people and staff safe." The bill would also require facilities to submit the data to Justice Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state public health officials; deploy CDC teams to facilities with outbreaks; require BOP to work with CDC to update their coronavirus guidance; and require the Justice Department to report to Congress on BOP’s coronavirus response.
Thirty lawmakers (29 Democrats and one Independent) wrote to the acting Health and Human Services Department IG on Thursday to ask that her office look into the allegations of political appointees overruling career officials at the Food and Drug Administration and CDC in regards to guidance, data reporting, information disseminated and more. “Our communities, schools, health care providers, businesses, and families turn to agencies like the CDC and FDA for guidance on how to make important decisions: when people should get tested, how to protect children at home or in the classroom and workers on the job, and which treatments to use to save a life,” they wrote. “Public confidence in the scientific process is especially critical as the FDA reviews COVID-19 vaccine candidates.”
Related, the Democrats on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released an analysis on Friday that shows there have been at least 47 instances of political interference in the coronavirus response over the last eight months. Meanwhile, the Republicans on the subcommittee released their own report to show “President Trump's whole of America response to protect American lives, reopen the economy, and defeat the virus.”
This was ahead of HHS Secretary Alex Azar testifying before the subcommittee. He said that all Americans will have access to a vaccine and that politics will not be involved in the approval process. Azar also confirmed that his department is complying with the Government Accountability Office’s reviews.
HHS is relinquishing control of the supply and distribution of remdesivir, the only drug proven to treat the coronavirus thus far, to the biotechnology company Gilead Sciences. The department said that states and territories haven’t needed their full allotments in recent weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. “The drug is no longer a scarce resource—a tribute to progress we have made against COVID-19 and to the strength of our partnerships with the private sector,” Azar said in a statement.
The Defense IG released a report on Wednesday about the department’s medical treatment facilities’ handling of the coronavirus. The IG said the facilities faced challenges with staffing levels and coordination, testing capabilities, information technology use, supply amounts and various forms of guidance that led to questions of the lines of authority.
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