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Why Trump’s battle isn’t over

Good evening. I’m Soumya Karlamangla, and it’s Monday, Oct. 5. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

After a chaotic weekend of conflicting information about President Trump’s battle with COVID-19, the First Patient headed home from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday evening.

His departure came just three days after he was hospitalized for COVID-19. During that time, he received supplemental oxygen, remdesevir and dexamethasone, medicines typically reserved for the sickest of patients. That Trump was given these treatments so soon after his positive test result was announced raised questions about when the president actually fell sick, when he was first diagnosed, and how serious his symptoms were. Those questions remain unanswered.

Trump and some of his staff maintain that his symptoms are mild. On Sunday, he staged a motorcade drive-by to wave at his supporters lined up outside Walter Reed. On Monday, the president tweeted a message that downplayed the severity of the disease.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” he wrote on Twitter. “I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

Meanwhile, the number of Trump associates testing positive continues to grow. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and aide Nick Luna tested positive for the virus, as did Riverside Pastor Greg Laurie, who attended the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event where Trump announced his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Even more could fall sick in the week ahead, as it typically takes between five and seven days to test positive after exposure. Trump traveled to multiple states in the week before the announcement of his diagnosis. Now health officials in New Jersey are trying to contact 200 people who may have been exposed to the virus at a Trump campaign event.

As for Trump’s prognosis, experts say he remains contagious and should isolate himself in the White House for 10 days to avoid infecting others. His physician, Dr. Sean Conley, told reporters that the president has “met or exceeded all standard hospital discharge criteria,” even as he cautioned that Trump could face a relapse and is not “entirely out of the woods yet.”

“If we can get through [next] Monday … then we will all take that deep sigh of relief,” he said.

By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 4:00 p.m. PDT Monday:

 <span class="copyright">(Los Angeles Times Graphics)</span>
(Los Angeles Times Graphics)

Track the latest numbers and how they break down in California with our graphics.

See the current status of California’s reopening, county by county, with our tracker.

A map of California showing what tiers counties have been assigned based on their local levels of coronavirus risk.
A map of California showing what tiers counties have been assigned based on their local levels of coronavirus risk.
The tiers to which California counties are assigned based on coronavirus risk level. These determine what can reopen.
The tiers to which California counties are assigned based on coronavirus risk level. These determine what can reopen.

Across California

Months of lying in a hospital bed stripped away not only 50 pounds from Dr. Jay Buenaflor, but sometimes the will to live. The Imperial

Trump says insulin is now so cheap, it’s ‘like water.’ It isn’t

President Trump made a number of claims about lowering drug prices during his debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Most were untrue. <span class="copyright">(Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times)</span>
President Trump made a number of claims about lowering drug prices during his debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden. Most were untrue. (Arkasha Stevenson / Los Angeles Times)

There was much to dislike in this week’s presidential debate — the lies, the rudeness, the inability of the White House incumbent to rise above the level of a cranky kindergartner.

For me, the low point came not when President Trump refused to condemn white supremacy, and not when he tore into the sons of Democratic candidate Joe Biden, but when he once again sought to convince the American people that he had single-handedly lowered the cost of prescription drugs.

Trump claimed that drug prices “will be coming down 80% or 90%” thanks to him.

He claimed that a series of executive orders have forced pharmaceutical companies to slash prices.

And the one that floored me: Trump claimed that the cost of insulin is now so low, it’s practically free.

“I’m getting it for so cheap, it’s like water,” he said. “You want to know the truth? So cheap.”

Like water.

“Saying that insulin is as cheap as water is a complete disconnect from reality,” said Vivian Ho, a healthcare economist at Rice University.

“For the overwhelming majority of the millions of Americans with diabetes who depend on insulin, the prices are outrageous,” she told me. “People have been dying because they can’t afford insulin.”

I don’t want to make this about me. This is about a country saddled with a former game-show host who believes he can say anything to advance his personal and political interests.

But as someone with Type 1 diabetes, who relies on daily insulin doses to stay alive, I found Trump’s remarks particularly offensive, even for him.

It may take some effort for many Americans to fact-check Trump’s claims that Mexico is paying for his border wall or that he’s accomplished more than all other presidents.

The high price of drugs — no ambiguity there. Stratospheric drug costs hit nearly every American family where they live.

Spending on prescription meds soared from $354 billion in 2009 to about $535 billion in 2018, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

This is an increase of 50% compared with 17% inflation over the same period. Drug spending is expected to approach $600 billion this year.

As for insulin, well, Trump is taking a modest improvement for a relatively small number of people with diabetes and presenting it as a political triumph for all.

What he was apparently referring to with that comment about insulin now being “like water” was an announcement in May from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that some (but not all) Medicare plans would cap monthly insulin co-payments by seniors at $35.

This won’t begin until next year. It also will affect fewer than half the estimated 7.4 million Americans with diabetes who use insulin, leaving everyone else to continue paying as much as $300 per vial, which in many

Trump promised 300 million N95 masks by September. He isn’t even close.




a close up of a sign


© Yahoo News



WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is falling far short of its goal of having 300 million N95 respirators available in time for the flu season, according to internal documents reviewed by Yahoo News. Though the supply of N95 respirators has greatly increased in the last several months, it is at a little less than one-third of promised levels.

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N95 respirators protect wearers against the coronavirus better than cloth or surgical face masks; the name refers to their ability to filter out 95 percent, or all but the smallest, of particles. The masks are critical to people in medical settings and frontline occupations.

According to a briefing document circulated on Monday to senior officials in the Department of Health and Human Services, the government now has 87.6 million N95 masks available, far short of the 300 million promised several months ago. 

The administration has also stockpiled 49 million KN95 masks, which are certified by China, and are potentially less reliable. A recent study of KN95s imported to the U.S. found that 70 percent of the masks didn’t meet the required filtration standards.

N95 masks, on the other hand, are approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.



table: Source: FEMA


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Source: FEMA

In April, amid shortages of N95s, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for the Chinese-certified version while the U.S. ramped up domestic production.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services defended the Trump administration’s efforts to stockpile sufficient quantities of face masks, saying it has moved “with deliberate and determined speed to ensure supplies and equipment are available for frontline U.S. healthcare workers.”

In recognition of fierce competition between individual states for personal protective equipment, as well as between states and the federal government, the spokesperson said the department was “taking care not to disrupt the commercial supply chain.”



KN95 respirator masks for sale in Elgin, Ill. (Mark Black/ZUMA Wire)


© Provided by Yahoo! News
KN95 respirator masks for sale in Elgin, Ill. (Mark Black/ZUMA Wire)

A shortage of respirators — on both federal and state levels — could prose problems in the months ahead, as the coronavirus pandemic and influenza season could potentially lead to a rush on hospitals through the fall and winter. States have been preparing for precisely that scenario, which could be exacerbated by reopening plans that are continuing to move forward.

The federal government stepped in late in the spring, promising that both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Strategic National Stockpile would have adequate protective equipment. The days of doctors sitting through seminars on how to sew masks or posting YouTube videos on how to reuse respirators, which are intended for single use, would be relegated to memory.

There were 13 million N95 masks in federal coffers in the winter of 2020, when the pandemic first arrived in the United States. 

On a press call with reporters on May 14, an administration official sounded confident. “We have an aspiration to eventually have a billion of those,” he