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American Lung Association works to dispel misinformation

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President Donald Trump says getting infected with COVID-19 was a “blessing from God.” Trump attributes him feeling well to the experimental antibody therapy he got from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Oct. 7)

AP Domestic

The rash of coronavirus infections emanating from the White House, followed by President Donald Trump’s tweeted advice to the nation – “Don’t be afraid of Covid’’ – prompted the American Lung Association on Wednesday to issue guidance for those confronting the disease in hopes of dispelling misinformation.

Few Americans have access to the treatments and battery of doctors available to the president, so the vast majority can’t afford to be cavalier about an illness that has killed more than 210,000 in the U.S. and upwards of 1 million worldwide.

In a statement from its chief medical officer, Dr. Albert Rizzo, the ALA provided information about how COVID-19 symptoms progress, how long recovery usually takes and how to avoid infecting others.

“After several high-profile figures received confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses in recent days, many Americans are seeking clarity on how to respond should they or a loved one contract the virus,’’ Rizzo said.

A day-by-day account: A visual guide to President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 treatment

The statement goes on to counsel members of the public who get infected to isolate for 10 days from the point of getting a positive test result or develop symptoms, to work with a contact-tracing team and to consult with a doctor without leaving the house, possibly through telemedicine.

The ALA recommendations mostly reiterate guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they come at a time of increased skepticism about the government’s instructions regarding the virus and fatigue about restrictions. A Cornell University study released last week called Trump the “single largest driver of misinformation around COVID.’’

Pedestrians wear masks as they cross a street amid the coronavirus pandemic in Santa Monica, California. (Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP Images)

In addition, Trump administration interference on matters related to the pandemic response – such as reopening schools – has been troubling enough to prompt four former CDC directors to write an editorial in July accusing Trump of politicizing science and undermining public health.

Stumbles and backtracking by the CDC, which has gone back-and-forth on the issue of airborne transmission of the coronavirus, may have further eroded confidence in what was previously regarded as the gold standard for such agencies.

Impact on the mind: Nearly one-third of hospitalized COVID-19 patients develop brain malfunction, study finds

Those factors are bound to result in people turning a deaf ear on messages from public health officials, said Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, who was the health commissioner in Nassau County, New York, during the H1NI outbreak of 2009-2010, also known as the swine flu pandemic.

“The messaging has to be based on trust. You have to have credibility,’’ Carney said. “If people don’t trust you, they’re not going to listen, and there’s mixed messaging going on in the community.’’

Epidemiologists continue to scrutinize a White

‘You’re Gonna Beat It.’ How Donald Trump’s COVID-19 Battle Has Only Fueled Misinformation

President Trump Recuperates Amid Questions About His Health And Campaign
President Trump Recuperates Amid Questions About His Health And Campaign

U.S. President Donald Trump salutes Marine One helicopter pilots on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5, 2020. Credit – Ken Cedeno—Polaris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after requiring supplemental oxygen and being hospitalized for COVID-19, President Donald Trump was already talking about the virus in the past tense.

“I learned a lot about COVID. I learned it by really going to school,” Trump said in a video filmed from his hospital suite on Saturday. “And I get it, and I understand it, and it’s a very interesting thing.”

It had been a rare and ominous sight to watch the President of the United States get airlifted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to be treated for a disease that has killed more than 210,000 Americans and sickened millions more. Laid low by the very virus that he has consistently downplayed, and with more than a dozen White House and Republican officials around him also infected, Trump struck a rare note of uncertainty, tweeting “Going well, I think!” Messages of shock and sympathy came in from around the world.

But if public health officials, and even some of Trump’s own aides, had hoped the experience would chasten him to change his message after months of questioning the severity of the disease, it quickly became clear that they were mistaken. “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” the President, who has received the very best medical care in the U.S., repeatedly told Americans a mere 72 hours later.

By the time he was staging his triumphant return from the hospital on Monday evening — still infected and heavily medicated — the sentiment that the president’s experience proved the virus had been exaggerated had exploded in the conservative media ecosystem. Slickly produced White House videos depicted Trump as a returning war hero, in an aggressive campaign to paper over any seeming vulnerabilities in a president who has always valued the appearance of strength above all else. The implication was that Trump was over the disease, which he isn’t, and that the nation needed to be as well, which it is not.

Trump’s message — not only urging Americans not to be afraid of the deadly illness, but promising they are “gonna beat it” if they get infected — was met with disbelief by many doctors and health experts who have spent the past nine months watching patients fight for their lives and die alone. “What the president is saying is untrue and irresponsible,” said Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert at Emory University in Atlanta, tells TIME. “He’s giving the impression: ’I’m strong, I made it, you’re the weak ones that didn’t make it.’ I think it shows a lack of compassion.”

On Tuesday morning, Trump continued to minimize the severity of the virus. “Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu.

Trump’s fight with COVID-19 adds fresh fuel to the misinformation fire he started

With the president hospitalized, his doctors evading basic questions and an election 29 days away, chaos reigned after Trump tested positive for the virus that’s killed more than 200,000 Americans. Now, after a four-day stay at Walter Reed medical center, the president said he will return to the White House. But more questions than answers remain.

Unlike a normal residence, the White House has its own medical unit, offering “full-time” care and facilities for emergency surgery, including the ability to administer supplemental oxygen — which he previously received at the White House — and even a crash cart for resuscitation.

If the president leaves the hospital Monday evening, the situation could become even more opaque. Trump is eager to return to an image of normalcy, but he’s still a high-risk patient in the throes of a wildly unpredictable and deadly virus that seldom charts a linear course to recovery. And because it’s clear that Trump is eager to feign normalcy at any cost with less than a month to go before the election, his return to the White House is not a reliable sign that he’s anywhere near being in the clear.

One result of obfuscating the president’s health? The internet is left to eagerly fill in the gaps.

Top-down misinformation

Doctors provided the first update about the status of Trump’s health on Saturday, but that event backfired, with White House Physician Dr. Sean Conley later admitting that he omitted information in order to keep the president’s spirits high. Conley also threw the timeline of Trump’s diagnosis into question — confusion that’s only been partially resolved since.

The White House’s coronavirus outbreak is a big opening for opportunists, according to Yonder, an AI company that monitors online conversations and tracks disinformation. In an online info ecosystem the company says is “broken,” a fresh crisis is rocket fuel for false claims and conspiracies.

“From groups suggesting the diagnosis was a hoax for political gain to QAnon supporters suggesting it was all part of a plan to isolate and protect the President from his adversaries in the ‘deep state,’ social media continues to act as a weaponized rumor mill,” Yonder CEO Jonathon Morgan said.

“In every case, agenda-driven groups on social media are using another national crisis to their advantage, and obscuring the truth in the process.”

On Friday, left-leaning conspiracy theories like #TrumpCovidHoax posited that the

Donald Trump Biggest Driver Of Covid-19 Misinformation: Study

US President Donald Trump has been the world’s biggest driver of Covid-19 misinformation during the pandemic, a study from Cornell University said Thursday.

A team from the Cornell Alliance for Science evaluated 38 million articles published by English-language, traditional media worldwide between January 1 and May 26 of this year.

The database they used aggregates coverage from countries such as the United States, Britain, India, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other African and Asian nations.

They identified 522,472 news articles that reproduced or amplified misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic, or what the World Health Organization has called the “infodemic.”

These were categorized into 11 main sub-topics, ranging from conspiracy theories to attacks on top scientist Anthony Fauci to the idea that the virus is a bioweapon unleashed by China.

But the most popular topic by far was what the study authors termed “miracle cures,” which appeared in 295,351 articles — more than the other 10 topics combined.

The authors found that comments by President Trump drove major spikes in the “miracle cures” topic, led by his April 24 press briefing where he mused on the possibility of using disinfectants inside the body to cure the coronavirus.

Similar spikes were seen when he promoted unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine.

“We conclude therefore that the president of the United States was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation ‘infodemic,'” the team wrote.

Sarah Evanega, who led the study and is director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, said: “If people are misled by unscientific and unsubstantiated claims about the disease, they may be less likely to observe official guidance and thus risk spreading the virus.”

US President Donald Trump's advocacy of unproven coronavirus cures has been linked by researchers to spikes in misinformation carried by global English-language media US President Donald Trump’s advocacy of unproven coronavirus cures has been linked by researchers to spikes in misinformation carried by global English-language media Photo: AFP / MANDEL NGAN

Co-author Jordan Adams, a data analyst at Cision Insights that provided the database, added: “One of the more interesting aspects of the data collection process was discovering the staggering amount of misinformation coverage directly linked to the public comments of a small number of individuals.”

After miracle cures, the second-most prevalent misinformation topic was that the pandemic was created to advance a “new world order.”

Next came the claim that the pandemic was a hoax for political gain by the US Democratic Party, followed by conspiracies alleging the virus was a bioweapon released by a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

Conspiracy theories linking the pandemic to philanthropist Bill Gates came next, then the hoax that Covid-19 symptoms are caused by 5G phone networks, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and the notion that the virus is a form of population control.

Attacks on US government scientist Fauci, references to the debunked “Plandemic” video, and blaming the virus on Chinese people consuming bat soup rounded off the list.

The study’s authors found there was some effort to correct the misinformation in the form of fact-checking articles, which appeared 183,717 times during the period studied.

They also tracked how the stories were shared on

Trump misinformation; Moderna vaccine; SNL; Fauci masks

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Here are three ways consumers can help support small businesses who are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Wochit

Despite President Donald Trump repeatedly assuring the nation that a vaccine would be approved before Election Day, a key vaccine developer said Thursday that theirs won’t be released to the public until March 2021 at the earliest. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci rebutted some of the president’s claims during Tuesday’s debate with former vice president Joe Biden, telling ABC News his views on masks were “taken out of context.”

A new study out of Cornell found that Trump is the “single largest” transmitter of misinformation surrounding COVID-19, touting false “miracle cures” and giving credence to dubious claims about the origins of the virus. 

“Saturday Night Live,” which is set to come back this week, may be in some hot water with the state of New York. The show’s producers announced that it would welcome a live audience for the recording despite regulations prohibiting most live audiences. A spokesman for the state’s health department said “that restriction has not changed.”

Some significant developments:

  • Globally, September was the worst month for India during the pandemic. The country reported 86,821 new coronavirus cases and 1,181 fatalities on Thursday. 
  • Researchers from Kansas State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found that mosquitoes cannot transmit COVID-19.
  • The NFL postponed the Tennessee Titans’ scheduled game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers indefinitely following an outbreak with Titans’ staff and players.
  • As of Wednesday, seven states set records for new cases in a week while three states had a record number of deaths in a week.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 7.2 million cases and over 207,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been 34 million cases and more than 1 million fatalities.

📰 What we’re reading: Colby College in Waterville, Maine, is running one of the nation’s most rigorous COVID-19 testing programs. So far, it’s working to keep coronavirus cases at bay while colleges across the nation are experiencing outbreaks.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak, state by state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

American, United flight attendants bid tearful goodbyes as they’re furloughed

The day the airline industry didn’t want to see coming is here: Oct. 1, when 32,000 American Airlines and United Airlines employees have been furloughed after lawmakers and the White House failed to agree on a broad pandemic relief package, including more federal aid for airlines.

American Airlines flight attendant Breaunna Ross, 29, delivered a tearful goodbye to passengers over the intercom on a flight before she was furloughed. Her video went viral, receiving over 140,000 views.

“I will never forget seeing your faces today,” she said. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the kindness shown on today’s flight.”

Executives from both American and United said that they would reverse the furloughs if airline aid were