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Atlas, health officials feuds add to Trump coronavirus turmoil

The feuds between White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas and top public health officials are raising more questions about President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Atlas, a Stanford University neuroradiologist without experience in public health, first joined the White House coronavirus task force this summer after appearing frequently on Fox News.

He has come under fire from public health experts inside and outside the administration who accuse him of feeding Trump misinformation. 

They argue public health agencies are already facing a public confidence crisis and that Atlas’s influence is undermining those agencies even further.

“The only qualification he has is that he parrots what President Trump wants to hear. To me, that makes him doubly dangerous,” said Mark Rosenberg, who ran the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control from 1994 to 1999.

“Scott Atlas is pushing away the good advice of people like Tony Fauci and replacing it with absolutely baseless and misguided bad advice that will result in more people dying,” added Rosenberg, referring to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by JobsOhio – Showdown: Trump-Biden debate likely to be nasty Tillis appears to reinforce question about COVID-19 death toll Overnight Health Care: Trump signs largely symbolic pre-existing conditions order amid lawsuit | White House puts off action on surprise medical bills | Rising coronavirus cases spark fears of harsh winter MORE.

Like Trump, Atlas has publicly questioned the value of doing more testing and has said pandemic restrictions amount to “panic.” 

Atlas has argued that even if low-risk people get infected with COVID-19, it won’t lead to more deaths. He has also pushed to minimize the impact of the coronavirus on children as a way to reopen schools, a key goal for the Trump administration. 

Atlas has seen his role in the administration grow. 

Trump has invited Atlas to speak to the public and answer questions from reporters at recent White House news conferences about schools reopening, COVID-19 testing and other events. 

Noticeably absent have been Fauci, task force coordinator Deborah BirxDeborah BirxAtlas contradicts Redfield on population susceptibility to coronavirus Controversial CDC guidelines were written by HHS officials, not scientists: report Trump coronavirus adviser threatens to sue Stanford researchers MORE and CDC Director Robert Redfield.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews said Trump is not playing favorites.

“The President consults with many experts both inside and outside of the federal government, who sometimes disagree with one another,” Matthews said in a statement to The Hill. 

“President Trump relies on the advice and counsel of all of his top health officials every day and then makes policy decisions based on all of the information. Any suggestion that their role is being diminished is just false,” Matthews

Trump says he wears masks “when needed” and mocks Biden’s masks

President Trump touted his response to the coronavirus pandemic in his first debate with former Vice President Joe Biden and defended his decision to often appear in public without a facial covering, explaining that he wears a mask “when needed.”

“I think masks are okay,” Mr. Trump said, when asked why moderator Chris Wallace why he typically appears in public without wearing a mask. He pulled out a mask from his suit jacket to show that he carried it with him.

“I put a mask on, you know, when I think I need it. Tonight is an example, everybody has had a test,” Mr. Trump said. “I wear a mask when needed. When needed, I wear masks.”

The president also mocked Biden for wearing a mask every time he appears in public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear masks in public to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

“I don’t wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask,” Mr. Trump said, adding that Biden “could be speaking 200 feet away” and then “shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”

Mr. Trump also defended his decision to hold large campaign rallies where there is limited social distancing and wearing a mask is not enforced. He noted that many of the rallies are held outside, which is considered to be safer than holding indoor events.

“People want to hear what I have to say,” Mr. Trump said, claiming that more people want to see him than Biden.

Biden also criticized Mr. Trump’s general response to the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Americans.

“The president has no plan. He hasn’t laid out anything. He knew all the way back in February how serious this crisis was,” Biden said, seemingly referring to when Mr. Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in February that the virus was “deadly stuff” while downplaying the risks in public.

Biden said that if he were president, he would ensure that hospitals had the equipment necessary to treat patients and protect health care workers, and that schools were properly funded.

Mr. Trump touted his decision to restrict travel from China at the end of January, claiming that it saved millions of lives.

“It’s China’s fault, it should have never happened,” Mr. Trump said, adding that he had received praise from governors as doing a “phenomenal job.”

“Many of your Democrat governors said President Trump did a phenomenal job,” Mr. Trump claimed. He also claimed that  “we’re weeks away from a vaccine,” and said that “far fewer people are dying.”

He praised his administration’s response to the coronavirus, claiming that the press was trying to undermine him.

“It’s just fake news. They give you good press, and give me bad press,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Biden. “I’ll tell you, Joe, you could’ve never done the job that we did.”

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Trump, Biden Butt Heads on U.S. Coronavirus Response, Vaccines and Mask-Wearing | America 2020

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden unsurprisingly presented vastly different views of the status of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. during the first general election debate Tuesday night.

Trump attempted to blame China for the outbreak, saying that his administration has done a “great job” responding to the pandemic. He claimed that if Biden were in charge, millions instead of hundreds of thousands would have died across the nation.

“We’ve done a great job,” Trump said. “But I tell you, Joe, you could never have done the job we’ve done. You don’t have it in your blood.”

Biden, meanwhile, tried to paint Trump as an uncaring leader with no plan.

“Forty thousand people a day are contracting [COVID-19]. In addition to that, about between 750 and 1,000 people a day are dying,” Biden said. “When he was presented with that number he said, ‘it is what it is.’ Well, it is what it is because you are who you are.”

Biden’s numbers are correct according to government statistics compiled by USAFacts. While cases and deaths are below what they were during their previous peaks, they are still elevated.

(USAFacts)

(USAFacts)

Like much of the debate, the candidates frequently talked over each other and laced their answers with insults and misstatements.

The two clashed on vaccines and mask wearing, with Trump saying that vaccine development is a “very political thing.” The president acknowledged his disagreements with scientists in his own administration, including his past clash with Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the vaccine timelines and the effectiveness of wearing face coverings.

Trump repeated his claim that a vaccine announcement could come in just weeks, though public health experts have said it will take some time to be made available to the public. He also said it would be delivered to the public “right away.”

Biden appeared to address viewers as he countered: “Do you believe for a moment what he’s telling you, in light of all the lies he’s told you about the whole issue relating to [COVID-19]?”

The former vice president cited comments Trump made to journalist Bob Woodward back in February that the virus is “deadly stuff” and “more deadly than even your strenuous flu.” Trump has repeatedly tried to minimize the backlash he received over his statements to Woodward related to the pandemic.

Trump was also questioned on his view of wearing masks to help prevent the spread of the virus. He said he thinks masks are OK, adding that he puts one on when he feels he needs it. However, Trump earlier this month claimed that masks are a “mixed bag.”

Biden said masks “make a big difference,” citing statements from Redfield who has said they are “the most important, powerful public health tool we have.”

The U.S. topped 7 million cases of the coronavirus and 200,000 deaths last week. It’s the most reported infections and fatalities of any country. Public health officials have

Factbox: Trump, Biden Healthcare Differences in Spotlight Amid Pandemic, Supreme Court Fight | Top News

(Reuters) – Healthcare, always a top concern for U.S. voters, has taken on even greater importance amid a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 205,000 Americans and cost millions more their jobs.

The death of liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, meanwhile, has raised the stakes of the upcoming legal battle over Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, when the high court hears the Trump administration’s effort to repeal the law days after the Nov. 3 election.

Here is a look at some of the vast differences on healthcare policy between Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden:

Trump has ceded much of the response to the pandemic to the states, rather than pursuing a national effort to expand testing, coordinate contact tracing and acquire protective equipment in bulk. He has also sent mixed messages on masks, which public health experts have said are crucial to slowing the spread of the virus.

Since the spring, Trump has pressed governors to reopen their states and has called on public schools to return to in-person instruction, arguing that the “cure cannot be worse than the disease.” He has often downplayed the deadliness of the virus and at times publicly undermined his administration’s own experts.

Trump signed into law several relief bills that have delivered trillions of dollars to individuals and businesses, though congressional Democrats have demanded more spending. The administration also launched “Operation Warp Speed,” an effort to support development of a coronavirus vaccine.

Biden has vowed to “listen to the science,” even saying he would consider another national economic shutdown if experts recommend it. He has called for a national mask standard, though he has acknowledged he may not have the authority to mandate their use.

His coronavirus plan calls for scaling up testing and contact tracing and promises to appoint a “supply commander” to oversee supply lines of critical equipment.

Biden has also proposed reopening insurance marketplaces for people who lost coverage through their jobs, expanding paid sick leave, and increasing pay for frontline workers. He has questioned whether Trump may try to politicize the vaccine process to boost his own re-election chances.

After years of failed attempts by Republican lawmakers to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Trump has turned to other tools to undermine the sweeping healthcare law: executive power and the courts.

The Justice Department is backing a lawsuit brought by several Republican-led states seeking to overturn the entire ACA, a case the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear on Nov. 10 – one week after Election Day.

Justice Ginsburg’s death has deepened concerns among Democrats that the court, which previously upheld the law 5-4 in 2012, might rule against the ACA. Under the law, more than 20 million Americans have gained insurance coverage.

The Trump administration has not proposed a comprehensive replacement, despite Trump’s vow to deliver a better, less-costly healthcare system. On Thursday, he signed two executive orders as part of what he called

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


© Provided by Yahoo! News
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

Despite Attacks on Mental Fitness, Most Americans Say Biden Is More Mentally Capable Than Trump

Americans saying Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is mentally fit and capable of leading the country outnumber those saying President Donald Trump is, judging by a new poll, despite the Republican president’s continued attacks on Biden’s mental fitness.

In the poll, conducted by Morning Consult, 54 percent of Americans said that Biden is capable of leading the country, while 52 percent said he is mentally fit.

In comparison, 43 percent said that Trump is capable of leading the country and 49 percent said he is mentally fit.

The Morning Consult poll surveyed 1,991 registered voters from September 25 to September 27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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The findings come amid Trump’s continued attacks on Biden’s mental fitness ahead of the first presidential debate on Tuesday night and the November election.

In July, Trump’s campaign released a series of attack ads against the former vice president, with titles including, “Joe Biden is clearly diminished,” “Joe Biden is slipping” and “Do you think Joe Biden has the mental fortitude to be president?”

Trump’s attacks on Biden’s mental capacity have continued over the past few months, and while speaking to supporters in Pittsburgh this month, he said that Biden “doesn’t have a clue”

“He doesn’t know where the hell he is,” Trump said. “This guy doesn’t know he’s alive.”

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During another campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Trump said that Biden is “a dumb guy. Always known as a dumb guy,” but added that he looked forward to facing off against him in the first debate.

Joe Biden
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event on September 27, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Alex Wong/Getty

Earlier in September, Trump posted a tweet that read, “Great! Biden is finally being forced out of his basement. Now you’ll be able to see what is going on ‘up there’.”

Trump also recently demanded that Biden take a drug test prior to the first debate, as he has continued to suggest that the former vice president is using performance-enhancing drugs.

In response, Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield issued a statement to Politico stating that “Vice President Biden intends to deliver his debate answers in words. If the president thinks his best case is made in urine he can have at it.”

“We’d expect nothing less from Donald Trump, who pissed away the chance to protect the lives of 200K Americans when he didn’t make a plan to stop COVID-19,” the statement added.

In the Morning Consult poll, 57 percent of respondents said that Trump is in good health, compared to 46 percent who said the same of Biden.

Newsweek reached out to the Trump and Biden campaigns for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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