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With athletes trained in resilience, Special Olympics helps members maintain mental and physical fitness through virtual events

Michael Heup, a Special Olympics athlete who has become a leading advocate for people with disabilities, took a deep breath as the torch approached. Heup, who started his Special Olympics career in 2001, has previously competed in soccer, basketball, tennis, snowshoe and other events.

“It’s disappointing that we can’t have large-scale events and gatherings, but we are excited to be back doing what we love,” he said. “Sports!”

His teammate behind him threw his fist in the air.

The small gathering stood in stark contrast to the boisterous crowd of thousands of athletes and law enforcement officials who have rallied around the torch lighting each year.

For 50 years, Special Olympics Maryland has fostered community for thousands of people with disabilities. Weekly trainings and annual tournaments have provided opportunities for connection and purpose, inspiring confidence among people historically subjected to social ostracism.

But when the pandemic took hold in March, Special Olympics Maryland, among other chapters nationwide, was forced to cancel practices, basketball tournaments, kayaking championships and its Summer Games.

A spring and summer void of sporting events could have been catastrophic for the nonprofit and those who rely on it. But instead, it blossomed into a vibrant virtual community buoyed by the signature fortitude of its athletes.

Over the last six months, state chapters of the Special Olympics have launched a series of virtual events that have helped maintain active routines for hundreds of thousands of people with intellectual and physical disabilities. In Maryland, Special Olympics leadership spearheaded weekly online fitness classes. And they launched walk, run and biking challenges, customizing a mobile app to track activity. They have also established online social clubs, including one that throws a virtual dance party every Saturday night.

“What we offer at Special Olympics, it is an essential part of our athletes’ social interaction,” said Jim Schmutz, president and CEO of Special Olympics Maryland. “But what you and I have experienced in the pandemic as it relates to isolation is more close to what our athletes experience historically on a daily basis. So in some cases, our athletes have adapted better than anyone.”

Monique Matthews, a 30-year-old athlete from Baltimore, has been a regular track-and-field competitor with the Special Olympics for eight years. Before the pandemic, she spent many of her days looking forward to Tuesdays and Saturdays, when she would meet with her friends to hone her running skills.

While she noticed people around her mourn the loss of their routines, Matthews simply found new ones online when the public health crisis mandated isolation.

“I just don’t look at it as a pandemic. I look at it as an opportunity to get to know myself better,” she said.

Once shy and afraid to speak her mind, Matthews has taken advantage of the comfortable virtual environment to become a leader among athletes statewide. Over the last six months, she has started leading Zoom sessions about police brutality and teaching online exercise classes that leave fellow athletes sweaty and tired.

“Right now, I

Trump was one of the first 10 patients to get an experimental COVID-19 treatment under special use

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

A car with US President Trump drives past supporters in a motorcade outside of Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on October 4, 2020. – US President Donald Trump drove past supporters outside the hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19, after announcing on Twitter a “suprise visit” to his backers. ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Ahead of President Donald Trump’s Monday discharge from the care of Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had been treated for three days for symptoms of COVID-19, came a tweet

“Don’t be afraid of Covid,” the president claimed, in part because the country had developed “some really great drugs.”

However, the president himself — who once suggested injecting household disinfectants to treat the deadly disease — had just become one of the first 10 patients granted an extraordinarily rare level of access to an experimental antibody infusion to combat his COVID-19 infection, Salon has confirmed.

The treatment, a cocktail of human antibodies and anti-bodies cloned from stem cells, was manufactured by Regeneron. The pharmaceutical company only announced the results of a phase 1/2/3 trial on Sept. 29, or two days before the president tested positive. The treatment, which is still pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, proved most effective for patients with weak immune systems.

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Hours after receiving the treatment on Friday, Trump was flown from the White House to Walter Reed Medical Center. The White House said at the time that the president had “mild symptoms.” Trump’s personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, later acknowledged that he exhibited low oxygen levels and a fever.

But Conley would not disclose the results of Trump’s lung scans, only saying they showed “expected findings.” Experts noted that Conley did not say the president’s lungs appeared healthy, leaving open the possibility of inflammation or pneumonia.

Trump returned to the executive mansion three days later. After a balcony photo-op appearance, during which time his breathing appeared labored, the president remains at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Conley says Trump reports no symptoms — medically different from “showing signs,” which are noticed and reported by an attending physician.

After his experience at Walter Reed, Trump declared that Americans should not let the coronavirus, which has killed more than 210,000 people in the U.S. over the last seven months, “dominate your life.”

Outside of clinical trials, almost no American has access to the treatments which were available to the president. The Food and Drug Administration limits compassionate use (“expanded access”) to patients with “an immediately life-threatening condition or serious disease or condition” when “no comparable or satisfactory” alternatives are available.

Patients often wait for approval, which can include an involved review and regulatory process between the patient, the physician, the pharmaceutical company and the government. Typically, companies grant compassionate use

Ethicists say Trump special treatment raises fairness issues

The special treatment President Donald Trump received to access an experimental COVID-19 drug raises fairness issues that start with the flawed health care system many Americans endure and end with the public’s right to know more about his condition, ethics and medical experts say.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. revealed on Tuesday how rare it was for anyone to get the drug it gave Trump outside of studies testing its safety and effectiveness. The drug, which supplies antibodies to help the immune system clear the coronavirus, is widely viewed as very promising.

Trump also received the antiviral remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone, and it’s impossible to know whether any of these drugs did him any good.

“He deserves special treatment by virtue of his office,” said George Annas, who heads Boston University’s center for law and health ethics. “The question is whether it’s good treatment.”

These drugs are unproven for mild illness and have not been tested in combination. The steroid seems at odds with medical guidelines based on what doctors have said about the severity of his illness.

“The public is getting mixed messages about his condition and that’s a problem,” Annas said, adding that there’s a right to know anything that could affect Trump’s ability to do his job.


Trump’s doctors asked for the Regeneron drug under “compassionate use” rules, which allow a patient with a life-threatening disease to get an experimental medicine if they can’t enroll in a study testing it and there’s no good alternative.

Trump was given the drug at the White House on Friday before he was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Walter Reed is not a site where the drug is being tested, so he may have met that criterion on technical grounds. Had he enrolled in a study, he would have risked being randomly assigned to a comparison group getting usual care rather than getting the drug.

Compassionate use requests are decided on a case-by-case basis, and both the drug company and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must agree. An FDA spokeswoman refused comment on the FDA’s decision or to say how many others have asked for the drug.


Fewer than 10 of these requests have been granted, said Regeneron spokeswoman Alexandra Bowie. The drug is in limited supply, the priority is using it for the ongoing studies, and emergency access is granted “only in rare and exceptional circumstances,” she wrote in an email.

Regeneron also contacted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign “to make them aware of the compassionate use mechanism, should they need to apply” if Biden becomes infected, Bowie wrote. “There was no promise of access to the medicine,” she added.

Alison Bateman-House, an ethicist at NYU Langone Health, said Regeneron’s overture to Biden raises concern.

“That crosses lines of appearing to promote a potentially unapproved product” in violation of FDA rules, she said. Rather than directing people to enroll in studies, it suggests “just call

Ways You Can Make The Day Special For Your Kids


  • National Child Health Day was first observed in 1928
  • The day raises awareness about how children’s health can be protected and developed
  • The day does not have the status of a public holiday

Since May 18, 1928, the country has observed the National Child Health Day on the first Monday of October. The day highlights the care and guidance that children should receive from adults to uphold their health and overall well-being.

National Child Health Day was first observed in 1928 after President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation. Initially, the day was celebrated on May 1 but in 1960, it was changed to the first Monday in October. Ever since it is being observed on this day to raise awareness about how children’s health can be protected and developed in the right way.

Instead of being a national observance, the day still does not have the status of a public holiday.

Here’s How To Observe National Child Health Day At Home

It’s important to keep encouraging kids to try new things out. Here’s a list of ways families can observe the National Child Health Day 2020 at home and make the day memorable for kids.

coronavirus outbreak stay-at-home orders may be difficult for kids coronavirus outbreak stay-at-home orders may be difficult for kids Photo: Valeria Ushakova – Pexels

The White House is at the forefront of safeguarding the physical and mental health of children across the nation. Here are four ways the White House is leading the way in observing the National Child Health Day 2020:

1. Empowering pregnant mothers, infants, and families with $100-million investment in Healthy Start

An initiative started in 1991, Healthy Start has since made things better for pregnant women, infants, and children. Under the program, funds are distributed to 15 minority communities in both urban and rural sites with infant mortality rates higher than the nation’s average.

2. Signing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

COVID-19 has taken a toll on children’s mental health. In fact, the pandemic’s impact on their emotions is greater than that on their physical health. Children are also expected to increasingly develop feelings of isolation amid the nationwide lockdowns and school closures. The impact is grave for children from low-income families and minority communities. For these children, schools are their resources for complete meals and other basic needs that they don’t get from their own homes.

While schools have started to reopen to welcome back students, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in September saw a worrying increase in coronavirus cases among school-aged kids.

The administration has asserted that American children should not be left behind when it comes to their education. And with that, it signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES, in March. 

3. Getting the kids ready for the coronavirus vaccine

Children may only qualify for coronavirus vaccines after trials on adults showed significant results as to the safety and effectiveness of the injections. Many experts believed that the government

An army of doctors. Access to an experimental drug. A special patient gets special care.

Trump’s caregivers are sparing nothing in their attempt to treat his coronavirus infection.

From his team of providers to his helicopter flight to the hospital to the experimental drug that fewer than 10 others have received outside a clinical trial, Trump has access to care available to few of the other 7.3 million people in the United States infected so far by the coronavirus. Even with symptoms that Conley appeared to describe as moderate at worst, the 74-year-old president is the VIP of VIPs in his battle against covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“I think about it as a realist,” said Robert Wachter, professor and chair of the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. “He is the president of the United States. For him to get the most vigorous therapies . . . even if we have not yet reached the point where there is enough evidence to make it available to everyone in the country, doesn’t seem off to me.”

“I think access to treatment and frequent monitoring is probably a good thing for evolving medical care of a new disease,” added John W. Mellors, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

VIP treatment is a feature of American medicine. Major hospitals throughout the country have private spaces for celebrities, the super-rich and the influential, patients who want to be shielded from the public and just may make a large donation if they are happy with their care. They are U.S. citizens and foreign nationals from places including Saudi Arabia, China, Canada and Mexico.

The coronavirus pandemic, in contrast, has featured memorable scenes of community hospitals from New York to Texas nearly overwhelmed by desperately sick people, of doctors and nurses working around-the-clock with insufficient equipment. At least 208,000 people in the United States have died of covid-19, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Trump has been widely criticized for his handling of the pandemic, especially in the early months, when the federal government left states to scramble for face masks, ventilators and other equipment needed by caregivers and patients. That performance is his greatest weakness in next month’s election against his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden, polls show.

In addition to his suite at the military hospital in Bethesda, Md., the most notable advantage Trump enjoys is access to an experimental antibody treatment that has been given to fewer than 10 people under the “compassionate use” program that the president’s doctors employed to obtain the drug from its manufacturer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. About 2,000 others have received the drug or a placebo because they are enrolled in the company’s clinical trial.

“The VIP treatment around antibodies is ethically troubling and yet there are many, many other things we do to support the president that are different from what you and I get, and we live with it every day,” Wachter said.

The drug has been touted as a potential game-changer by prominent scientists — a way