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‘It’s a Slaughter’; Trump Halts COVID Relief Talks; Mask Up Between Bites in Calif.

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William Foege, MD, the former CDC director under Presidents Carter and Reagan, suggested in a private letter to the agency’s current leader, Robert Redfield, MD, that he orchestrate his own firing by revealing the CDC’s failings and the meddling from the White House. “It’s a slaughter and not just a political dispute,” he wrote. (USA Today)

As of 8:00 a.m. ET Wednesday, the estimated U.S. COVID-19 toll reached 7,501,869 cases and 210,918 deaths — up 42,767 and 722, respectively, since the same time a day ago.

President Trump ordered his legislative team to halt negotiations with Congress on a coronavirus relief bill until after the election, but later tweeted that a total of $160 billion should be approved for airline relief and for paycheck protection. (The Hill)

Rick Bright, the administration’s vaccine-expert-turned-whistleblower, resigned from his job at NIH — a job he had been demoted to after being removed from his position as the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. (STAT)

The FDA released its revised guidance for emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines — guidance that would likely guarantee a vaccine wouldn’t be authorized until after Election Day. Stay tuned to MedPage Today for in-depth coverage of this issue.

Efficacy data from one or two COVID-19 vaccine candidates are expected in the next month or two, according to Moncef Slaoui, PhD, the chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s project to speed up vaccine development. (Reuters)

In a small trial of patients with mild cases, the antidepressant fluvoxamine reduced the likelihood of clinical deterioration compared with placebo, the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund announced.

Wondering how to ask a stranger to put on their mask? Be discreet, experts say. (AP)

And speaking of masks, going out to eat in a restaurant? Don’t forget to wear your mask between bites, say California officials. (CBS News)

Presidential adviser Stephen Miller and three other White House officials tested positive for COVID-19, while the top U.S. general and several senior Pentagon officials are quarantining after being exposed to a Coast Guard admiral who tested positive for the coronavirus. (New York Times, CNN)

Facebook removed a post from President Trump suggesting that influenza is more lethal than COVID-19, saying it broke the site’s rules regarding misinformation. For comparison, COVID-19 in the U.S. has now killed more people than the last five flu seasons combined. (CNN)

State officials are investigating Trump’s fundraiser last week at his Bedminster, N.J. country club to see whether it violated guidelines on large gatherings. (NBC News)

As if a bobblehead and donuts weren’t enough, now NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD, has his own action figure. (The Hill)

A Frontline/AP investigation published in The Washington Post details the breakdown in the U.S. supply chain for personal protective equipment to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

In other news:

California governor’s office tells diners to wear masks “in between bites”

The California governor’s office put out a tweet on Saturday advising that restaurant-goers keep their masks on while dining. “Going out to eat with members of your household this weekend?” the tweet reads. “Don’t forget to keep your mask on in between bites. Do your part to keep those around you healthy.”

In California, masks are required for anyone going outside their home, as well as workers in customer-facing businesses, offices, factories, and health care professionals, among others, according to the state’s COVID-19 guidance.

While children under 2 years old and those with breathing troubles or medical exemptions do not need to wear a mask, everyone else is required to wear them in all indoor public places — and also outdoors if keeping 6 feet of social distance with others isn’t possible.

The official guidance does say that masks can be removed for a number of reasons, including eating or drinking. However, the tweet from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office offered somewhat different advice, which confused some Twitter users.

“I’m very confused by this tweet. The image suggests you should only take your mask off once when you begin a meal but the text suggests you should put it back on between bites,” journalist Matthew Fuhrman wrote, referring to the graphic shared in the tweet. 

“Should we wash our hands after touching our mask each time we remove it between bites? What if I’m eating chips and salsa and I go for a double dip? Is that technically two bites since it’s the same chip?” another person asked.

“This violates the @WHO ‘Dont’s of Mask wearing,'” another person tweeted, including a graphic from the World Health Organization which advises people to avoid touching their mask as much as possible, and to wash their hands before touching their mask and after discarding it. 

CBS News has reached out to the governor’s office for more information on the guidance in the tweet.

In California’s published guidance for dining in restaurants, wearing a mask in between bites is not mentioned. Physical distancing to the maximum extent possible, the use of face coverings by workers and customers, frequent hand-washing and regular disinfecting are among the elements of the COVID-19 prevention plan. Many counties in California currently limit indoor restaurants to 25% of normal capacity, or are allowing outdoor dining only, depending on local infection rates. 

In New York, which also has a statewide mask mandate and has reopened limited indoor and outdoor dining, the rule is to wear face coverings at all times — except while seated at a restaurants. In Georgia, where masks are “strongly encouraged” but not required, there is an exception “when eating, drinking, or exercising outdoors.” 

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