Without masks and a vaccine, we could reach Herd Immunity from COVID-19, but deaths would skyrocket. We break down the science of it.
Political and public health messages clashed Wednesday as the U.S. hurtles toward a high-stakes presidential election and the approval of a vaccine aimed at ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield told a Senate panel that a vaccine may not be available to the American public until summer or fall 2021 and that masks are “the most important, powerful public health tool we have” — possibly even more effective than a vaccine.
Hours later, President Donald Trump criticized and contradicted both comments, repeatedly suggesting Redfield may have misunderstood the questions asked of him under oath.
Also Wednesday, Trump loyalist Michael Caputo announced he was taking a leave of absence from his role as the top spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, citing a “lymphatic issue discovered last week.” Caputo previously accused scientists at the CDC of “sedition.” Caputo was also accused of trying to manipulate COVID-19 data for political purposes.
Meanwhile, the CDC is under heavy scrutiny, too, after a USA TODAY investigation exposed how it failed to communicate vital information to local health authorities at the start of the pandemic, even downplaying the virus’ threat.
‘Let people choose’: How the CDC failed local public health officials fighting the coronavirus
Some significant developments:
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the majority of children, teens and young adults who’ve died from COVID-19 are Hispanic, Black or Native American. India surpassed 5 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 82,000 deaths.Pfizer, one of the frontrunners in creating a COVID-19 vaccine, reported its candidate has “potential” after expanding its trial over the weekend.
📈 Today’s numbers: Alabama, North Dakota and Wisconsin set records for new cases, while Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota and Tennessee set records for number of deaths reported, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins data through late Tuesday. The U.S. has reported more than 6.6 million cases and 196,000 deaths. Globally, there have been more than 29.7 million cases and 938,000 fatalities.
📰 What we’re reading: Even as thousands of their employees fell ill with COVID-19, meatpacking executives pressured federal regulators to help keep their plants open, according to a trove of emails obtained by USA TODAY. Read more.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom to act ‘very, very shortly’ on theme park reopenings
Under pressure from the amusement industry and tourism-dependent cities, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vowed action “very, very shortly” that could reopen Disneyland and other shuttered theme parks.
Even a partial reopening would help Anaheim and surrounding cities in California’s Orange County that depend on a flood of tourists from around the world to spend lavishly at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, hotels, restaurants and shopping districts.
The city of Anaheim projects a fiscal-year deficit of at least $75 million, instead of the surplus that had been expected before the pandemic struck, officials said.
“We are disappointed with the state’s lack of progress in providing the industry with guidance and clarity on reopening,” Ken Potrock, president of the Disneyland Resort, said in a statement.
The California Attractions and Parks Association, whose members include both Disneyland and Universal Studios, called for Newsom to release rules for reopening on Tuesday.
– Chris Woodyard
Donald Trump says CDC Director Robert Redfield ‘confused’ about coronavirus vaccine, mask efficacy
President Donald Trump suggested Wednesday that the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention misspoke when he testified that a coronavirus vaccine might not be widely available until next year and that face masks are a more effective way of fighting the disease.
Trump said during a White House news briefing that Redfield was wrong on both counts.
“I called him — I said, ‘What did you mean by that?’” Trump told reporters. “I think he just made a mistake. … I think he misunderstood the question.”
Redfield told a Senate panel on Wednesday that a limited supply of coronavirus vaccine may be available between November and December, but that it was unlikely to be available to the general public until the summer or fall of next year. His remarks contradicted Trump, who has said a vaccine could be available by the end of the year, perhaps by the Nov. 3 election.
– Michael Collins and David Jackson
2-month-old baby becomes Michigan’s youngest COVID-19 victim
A 2-month-old from Michigan died this week of COVID-19 and is believed to be the state’s youngest victim of the virus.
“Children are not spared from this disease,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, at a news conference Wednesday. “My condolences go out to their parents and family.”
Additional details, such as the baby’s gender, hometown, whether the infant was treated at a hospital or had other health conditions that may have contributed to the death, were not disclosed.
— Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press
Health official accused of meddling with CDC data takes leave of absence
Michael Caputo, the Trump administration health official embroiled in a furor over political meddling with the coronavirus response, announced he was taking a leave of absence citing a “lymphatic issue discovered last week.”
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that Caputo was taking the time “to focus on his health and the well-being of his family.” On Twitter, Caputo cited his own medical issue.
Caputo, the department’s top spokesman, apologized on Tuesday to his staff for a Facebook video in which he reportedly said scientists battling the coronavirus are conspiring against President Donald Trump and warned of shooting in America if Trump were to lose the November election.
The Trump appointee also was accused of trying to muzzle a scientific weekly put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Majority of kids who die of COVID are Hispanic, Black or Native American, CDC finds
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the majority of children, teens and young adults who’ve died from COVID-19 are Hispanic, Black or Native American.
Researchers found there was a staggering racial disparity in the more than 390,000 coronavirus cases and 121 deaths among people under the age of 21 reported to the CDC between Feb. 12 and July 31.
Hispanic, Black and Native American children accounted for 78% of those deaths even though those groups represent just 41% of the United States population, a disproportionate effect that reflects a similar disparity among adults.
Previous research has shown the death toll from COVID-19 is twice as high for people of color under the age of 65 as it is for white Americans.
UAE approves COVID-19 vaccine developed in China for emergency use
The United Arab Emirates’ government authorized Emergency Use Authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine developed in China for “first line defense heroes,” the country’s National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority tweeted Monday.
Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammed Al Owais, UAE’s Minister of Health and Prevention, said results from preclinical studies, first and second phase trials showed the vaccine is safe and effective, and that the third phase is “progressing very well.”
According to NCEMA, 31,000 volunteers participated in clinical trials. The agency observed mild side effects including pain in the injection area, fatigue and headache.
The vaccine will be given to front line workers who interact with people who are infected with COVID-19.
Feds outline plan to provide free COVID-19 vaccine for all Americans
The federal government outlined a sweeping plan Wednesday to make vaccines for COVID-19 available for free to all Americans.
In a report to Congress and an accompanying “playbook” for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or possibly later this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot.
The Pentagon is involved with the distribution of vaccines, but civilian health workers will be the ones giving shots.
Some of the plan’s highlights include:
For most vaccines, people will need two doses, 21 to 28 days apart. Vaccination of the U.S. population won’t be a sprint but a marathon.The vaccine itself will be free of charge, and patients won’t be charged out of pocket for the administration of shots. CDC failed health departments, downplayed virus at the start of the pandemic: USA TODAY investigation
A USA TODAY investigation found the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to consistently perform its most basic job: giving local public health authorities the guidance needed to save American lives during a pandemic.
Instead of answers, public health departments received slow, confusing and conflicting information from the agency – if they received any response at all. Communities were left to make life-or-death decisions about testing, personal protection and reopening.
Reporters reviewed 42,000 pages of emails and memos obtained from local health departments and interviewed more than 100 community leaders and public health experts.
During this time, the agency downplayed the potential harm from the virus in dozens of press briefings, congressional hearings and other public statements between January and April. The investigation comes as the CDC continues to receive widespread scrutiny for yielding to political pressure from the White House.
– Brett Murphy and Letitia Stein
Last SlideNext SlideIndia surpasses 5 million COVID-19 cases, including 90K in past 24 hours
India’s coronavirus confirmed cases crossed 5 million on Wednesday, still soaring and testing the country’s feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages.
The Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases in the past 24 hours, raising the nation’s confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35% of its nearly 1.4 billion population. It said 1,290 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,066.
India’s total coronavirus caseload is closing in on the United States’ highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.
India reported a record daily high of 97,570 cases on Sept. 11 and has added more than 1 million cases this month alone.
Pfizer reports ‘potential’ with COVID-19 vaccine candidate, expands trial
Pfizer, one of the frontrunners in the quest for a COVID-19 vaccine, said its candidate vaccine is looking safe, and the company expects to have data next month on how well it is protecting people against the coronavirus.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday that he is intentionally revealing more information about the COVID-19 candidate vaccine than he would about any other vaccine under development because he wants the process to be open and transparent.
“Transparency is a must, particularly given this situation and the politicization of the vaccine,” he said in a Q&A with journalists.
The company had said Saturday that it was expanding its trial from 30,000 to 44,000 people to include teenagers, ages 16-18, as well as people with diseases such as HIV, and hepatitis A, B, or C. Tuesday, Bourla said the expansion took place because the vaccine appeared to be extremely safe, and the trial could be expanded without delaying the timeline for completion.
– Karen Weintraub
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press
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