Tag: COVID19

Watch live: Dr. Anthony Fauci and Norah O’Donnell talk COVID-19 surge and government response

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, is speaking with “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell in an interview that will be streamed live on Wednesday. They are expected to speak about the fall coronavirus surge and the government’s response in the interview, which will stream at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBSNews.com.

Viewers are invited to text Norah their questions at 202-217-1107.


How to watch Norah O’Donnell’s interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci

  • What: Norah O’Donnell interviews Dr. Anthony Fauci
  • Date: October 14, 2020 
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: via Zoom
  • Online stream: Live on CBSNews.com in the player above and on the CBS News app

Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has publicly diverged from President Trump’s coronavirus messaging in recent days. 

After Mr. Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and return to the White House earlier this month, the president described the treatment he was given as a “cure.” There are no known cures for COVID-19. Fauci told CBS News the term could lead to unnecessary “confusion.” “We don’t have any indication — I think you really have to depend on what you mean by a ‘cure,’ because that’s a word that leads to a lot of confusion,” Fauci said. “We have good treatments for people with advanced disease who are in the hospital.” 

Fauci has also taken issue with the president’s unauthorized use of his comments in a 30-second ad. Fauci said the decision to use his comments without consent, and out of context, is a form of harassment. “By doing this against my will they are, in effect, harassing me,” he told The Daily Beast in a report posted on Monday. 

Fauci has identified the White House ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as a “super spreader” event. At least 24 people in Mr. Trump’s orbit, not all whom attended the event, have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“I think the — the data speaks for themselves,” Fauci said of mask-wearing. “We had a super-spreader event in the White House and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks. So the data speak for themselves.”

He warned that coronavirus cases are on the rise in a majority of states, with only three seeing fewer cases. “It’s going in the wrong direction right now,” Fauci said. “So if there’s anything we should be doing, we should be doubling down in implementing the public health measures that we’ve been talking about for so long. Which are: Keeping a distance, no crowds, wearing masks, washing hands, doing things outside as opposed to inside.”

Portions of Norah O’Donnell’s interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci will air on the “CBS Evening News” Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS and 10 p.m. on CBSN.

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Salesforce Live – The Nottingham Building Society rethinks digital strategy in light of COVID-19

(Image sourced via The Nottingham Building Society Facebook )

The Nottingham Building Society was founded back in 1849 by a small group of Nottingham businessmen, led by local Quaker Samuel Fox. The first ever branch used to open between 6pm and 9pm on the first Tuesday of each month and the vision for the building society was to help people own their own home, as well as offer them a safe and secure place for their savings.

Since then The Nottingham (as it’s more commonly known) has grown to serve over a quarter of a million members across the UK and now has 67 branches across 11 counties. Gone too are the days of a three hour opening window once a month, with the building society expanding its use of digital services for members rapidly.

The Nottingham has had a digital strategy in place for over three years, which served it well in the initial fallout from COVID-19. But as CEO David Marlow outlined at the Salesforce Live UK & Ireland event this week, the rapid changes in consumer expectations and the workplace are forcing the building society to go deeper with its transformation.

Part of this involves moving to the Salesforce Financial Services Cloud to completely reengineer the organisation’s process for the digital, with the aim of creating an immersive experience for members.

Marlow explained that COVID-19 has shifted thinking at The Nottingham in two fundamental ways. Firstly, regarding the move to distributed working. And secondly, the additional expectations from consumers on digital services. He said:

I think the working from home element is a major item. Here I am at home, somebody who never worked from home over the last 20 years. How we make the most of that and leverage it is really important. Accommodating the changes that we see both positive and negative for people remote working. That implication has an enormous knock on effect to our business continuity arrangements, and we’ve got some big changes to put through in how we organise ourselves in business continuity terms. Just as example, historically we had a building on the outside of Nottingham that was just left empty. When we had a crisis we would all move out to that. Well, we don’t need that sort of capability any longer, we would all just work from home.

And then finally I think the major item for us has been the enormous shift in expectations from customers and members and the public at large around digital. Not only in terms of the access that they expect, but the richness of the service that they now see as the norm, not as a bonus.

A solid foundation

As noted above, The Nottingham has been working on its digital strategy for three years now and Marlow said that this put the organisation in a good position when demand for its services increased during the height of the pandemic. However, he added, that with the enormous shift in customer expectations, he soon

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Danish government orders death of a million minks due to COVID-19 outbreak

The Danish government has ordered mink farms to cull over 1 million animals due to reported outbreaks of coronavirus among the species, prized for its fur.

The outbreak among the mink population was detected in late June after a COVID-19 patient was linked to a mink farm in North Jutland, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service said in a report.

 

As of this month, mink on around 60 farms in North Jutland have tested positive for coronavirus, and an additional 46 farms are under suspicion, Mogens Jensen, the Danish minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, told CNN.

“We have continuously launched initiatives to manage and contain the spread of infection,” Jensen said in a statement.

“In view of the recent large increase, we must unfortunately state that it has not been sufficient to prevent continued spread of infection among the North Jutland mink herds,” he added.

The order mandates that mink farms within five miles of a farm or herd that is confirmed or suspected to be infected with the coronavirus must be culled.

“It is a difficult decision that the government has made, but we fully support it,” said Tage Pedersen, chairman of the Danish Mink Breeders Association.

In Utah, cases of COVID-19 have also been detected among mink farm populations, with state officials reporting that over 10,000 animals have died from the virus.

While officials in Utah said, “research indicates there hasn’t been a spread from mink to humans,” state veterinarian Dean Taylor noted the mink suffered from respiratory issues, similar to human symptoms.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the Danish Emergency Management Agency will handle the process of culling mink in Denmark.

Mink breeders will be compensated for the cost of losing their herd and other operating losses.

Denmark is the world’s largest producer of mink skins, the Danish Agriculture and Food Council reported.

The country has nearly 1,500 Danish fur farmers that produce around 19 million mink skins per year.

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Cue Health awarded $481 million to scale up production of COVID-19 test: HHS

(Reuters) – The U.S. government has awarded diagnostic testing company Cue Health Inc $481 million to scale up the production of rapid COVID-19 molecular test, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday.



Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in New York


© Reuters/Lucas Jackson
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in New York

The company will raise the domestic production of COVID-19 test kits to 100,000 per day by March 2021 under the deal and deliver 6 million tests and 30,000 instruments to the government to support its response to the pandemic, the health agency said.

The point-of-care test can detect the novel coronavirus in about 20 minutes with nasal swab samples collected using a Sample Wand from the lower part of the nose, the HHS said.

The system also allows results to be sent to a mobile phone via an app.

The company’s test kit was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June for emergency use in patient care settings under the supervision of qualified medical personnel.

The development of the company’s health platform was supported by funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for a molecular influenza test, starting in 2018, the department said.

BARDA later expanded the collaboration with the company to include the development of Cue’s COVID-19 test, it added.

(Reporting By Mrinalika Roy and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Legal Aid Society urges city to pause collections from SNAP, Medicaid recipients amid COVID-19

NEW YORK — The Legal Aid Society has urged New York City’s Human Resources Administration to halt plans to resume collections from SNAP, Public Assistance and Medicaid recipients.

Despite assurances that all agency claims and collections would be paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates learned billing individuals with existing SNAP, Public Assistance and Medicaid payment and settlement agreements would restart on Nov. 1.

This would end the moratorium the agency put in place at the start of the outbreak in March.

The non-profit legal aid provider requested collections be halted for the duration of the pandemic or at least 60 days after the Federal Public Health Emergency is lifted.

Advocates have warned resuming collections will worsen the burdens New Yorkers are facing.

The Legal Aid Society’s sent a letter to Steven Banks, HRA Commissioner calling for the halt:

New York is continuing to fight the virus and pandemic while it ravages most of the country and at the same time, the COVID-19 emergency has resulted in high levels of unemployment and financial hardship for millions of New Yorkers… The hardest hit in terms of unemployment have been immigrants and people of color,communities which, in our experience, are disproportionately affected by the enforcement actions at issue here.

Applications for and enrollment in SNAP, Cash Assistance, and Medicaid have skyrocketed. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an invaluable lifeline for millions of New Yorkers, has expired. Despite some reopenings, many businesses remain shuttered. Jobs are scarce and economic stability is a long way off, especially as New York attempts to ‘reopen’ safely. Moreover, if billings are resumed, the many individuals who are unable to meet their payments will be forced into litigation in state courthouses, which poses grave individual and public health concerns. Lastly, while we are aware of the fiscal crisis the City faces as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, budget shortfalls must not be met on the backs of struggling New Yorkers.”

As the state continues to make strides in fighting the spread of the virus, many New Yorkers continue to be affected by the pandemic’s financial crisis.

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U.S. government signs deal to make more COVID-19 vaccine components

(Reuters) – The U.S. government has entered an agreement with life sciences company Cytiva, a unit of Danaher Corp, to expand the manufacturing of products needed to make COVID-19 vaccines, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said on Tuesday.

Under the deal, Cytiva will receive about $31 million to scale up manufacturing of vaccine-related products, including cell cultures and hardware such as bioreactors used for the culturing of cells and antibodies.

The grant will help the company ramp up the manufacturing capabilities of its Massachusetts and Utah facilities.

The U.S. government has till date agreed to pay more than $1.1 billion to purchase needles, syringes, vials and supply kits, as well as expand manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics in the United States, the HHS said.

“By expanding capacity now, not only do we help deliver these products as quickly as possible, but we also return manufacturing to America, boosting the economy and preparing us for future crises,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a media statement.

Cytiva is among the primary suppliers to several companies currently working with the U.S. government to develop COVID-19 vaccines.

(Reporting By Mrinalika Roy and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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Biden’s son-in-law advises campaign on pandemic while investing in Covid-19 startups

“StartUp Health is putting the full support of its platform and network behind building a post-Covid world that uses technology and entrepreneurial ingenuity to improve health outcomes,” the firm said at the time.

Krein simultaneously advising the campaign and venturing into Covid investing could pose conflict-of-interest concerns for a Biden administration, or simply create the awkward appearance of Krein profiting off his father-in-law’s policies. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government has directed tens of billions of dollars in coronavirus medical spending in areas like testing and vaccine research to private firms. It is poised to spend billions more next year and possibly beyond.

The potential conflicts are not limited to the coronavirus for Krein, 53, a Philadelphia-based head-and-neck surgeon who got into venture investing not long after he began dating Biden’s daughter, Ashley, in 2010.

Since StartUp Health’s 2011 launch, when Krein came on as its chief medical officer, it has invested in more than 300 health care businesses, according to its website, which prominently features the term “moonshot” to describe its investment goals — language that echoes that of Joe Biden’s own signature Cancer Moonshot initiative. In its early years, the firm enjoyed close ties to the Obama administration and described Krein as a White House adviser.

“I have little doubt that the relationship to Joe Biden, particularly if he becomes president, would attract the interest of some investors,” said Avik Roy, founder of Roy Healthcare Research, an investment research firm, and a former adviser to the presidential campaigns of Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

StartUpHealth did not respond to interview requests, and the Biden campaign declined to make Krein or others tied to the company available for interviews. In response to questions, a campaign official said that Krein does not have a formal role with the campaign, but acknowledged that he had participated in calls briefing Biden on coronavirus based on his experience treating patients and coordinating his hospital’s response to the outbreak.

Even informal input or the perception of access can be valuable in health care, a heavily regulated sector that is influenced by federal policy and spending priorities.

“Sometimes the perception is all you need,” said Laura Huang, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies the early-stage investment process. “Signaling is very important for startups and investors alike, and one signal is high-profile individuals who can help provide access.”

Roy said the firm’s Biden ties could also help it land stakes in hot startups that can be choosy about the investors they take money from. “Those companies will take your calls,” he said. “People who are plugged in have an advantage, and that is a common feature of a lot of heavily regulated industries.”

The influence concerns posed by the firm are compounded by its foreign ties. One StartUp Health fund raised $31 million from investors, including the Swiss drugmaker Novartis and the Chinese insurer Ping An, in 2018. The firm’s website also lists the Chinese technology conglomerate

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Czech government closes bars, schools in what PM calls ‘one shot’ to curb COVID-19 surge

PRAGUE (Reuters) – The Czech government ordered bars, restaurants and clubs closed from Wednesday and shifted schools to distance learning as it puts new measures in place to curb the fast spread of novel coronavirus cases.

The Czech Republic is experiencing the strongest surge in Europe when adjusted for population as the number of infections detected since the outbreak began has soared to nearly 120,000, from around 25,000 at the beginning of September.



a clock tower in front of a building: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Prague


© Reuters/DAVID W CERNY
The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Prague


Hospitals are starting to feel that strain as the number of patients have doubled since the start of October to over 2,000.

The government has been seeking to avoid repeating the strict lockdowns imposed in the spring, which sent the economy into a record contraction. The summer saw a relaxation of restrictions after the country came through the first wave of the pandemic with far fewer cases than western neighbours.

“We are aware that we have one shot, and one shot that has to be successful so we manage the growth of the epidemic this time as well,” Prime Minister Andrej Babis said told a news conference.

Babis said the priority was for hospitals to be able to manage the sharp increase in infected patients.

From Wednesday, public gatherings would be limited to six people, alcohol consumption in public spaces would be banned and masks would be required at public transport stops. Takeaway orders will still be available until 8 p.m.

Schools, expect for pre-schools, would move to online lessons until Nov. 1 – a measure that companies and especially hospitals have worried would affect staffing. This extends distance learning that had already been in place for secondary schools.

The measures will be in place until the start of November, and the government said that while schools would definitely reopen on Nov. 2, other measures would be relaxed according to the epidemiological situation. The government had already tightened curbs to limit restaurant openings and widen the use of masks.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Jason Hovet; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)

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Government made mental health and domestic violence worse during COVID-19 pandemic

The U.S. reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected Americans more than the virus itself. It’s been well-documented that large percentages of businesses will fail, including some even in the medical profession due to the decimation caused shutdowns and essential procedure orders — but three of the most overlooked negative impacts of the shutdowns have been mental health, drug abuse and domestic violence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during the time period of April-June, nearly 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health of substance abuse. In a study published by the CDC on Aug. 14 due to stay at home orders, 40.9% of adults reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, 30.9% reported either anxiety or depression and 26.3% reported having something called trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TDSR). And those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.

The same CDC study showed that 13% of people surveyed by the CDC during the same time said that they started or increased their substance use and 11% seriously considered suicide. The Washington, D.C.-based ODMAP (Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program) reported that drug overdoses during COVID rose 18%. And a study released by Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in June showed calls to suicide hotlines are up 47% nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic with some crisis lines experiencing a 300% increase. 

These statistics are horrifying — but it doesn’t end there.

Not far from these numbers of increased mental health issues and substance use during COVID-19 is what the New England Journal of Medicine has labeled “A Pandemic within a Pandemic,” the rise and lack of reporting of domestic violence. With schools closed and people furloughed from work, stress levels were all-time highs in the home — and with it came higher numbers of violence. Typically, one in four women and one in 10 men experience domestic violence, but because of lockdowns, there were far less options to get away for either to report the other safely to the police. Worse is for children, who with school closures, lost teachers, guidance counselors and administrators they would once have an opportunity to report abuse to.

And how have the federal and state governments reacted? Not well. Many states are still closed, exacerbating all the issues I’ve mentioned. And similar to restaurant and small-business closures, many Americans will never recover from the damage that has been caused.

More egregious than our government not reacting is our government doing something even worse — chipping away services that could help those who find themselves in a hopeless or dangerous place. One such service at risk is the toll-free number. When I first heard about the potential to end the concept of toll-free numbers, I honestly blew it off. I, like many people that I know in my bubble, have an unlimited cellphone plan — toll-free numbers don’t come in to play for someone like me. But there are many who this would adversely affect.

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COVID-19 Is Decimating Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Communities. It’s Up to Religious Leaders to Protect Their Followers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re making some of our coronavirus pandemic coverage free for nonsubscribers. You can read those articles here and subscribe to our newsletters here.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re making some of our coronavirus pandemic coverage free for nonsubscribers. You can read those articles here and subscribe to our newsletters here.

By every measure, Israel’s war against the coronavirus pandemic has been a miserable failure; it’s a stark turn after what appeared to be an initial success during a strict lockdown earlier this year. Last month, it was the first country in the world to go into a second general lockdown, just four months after the first one ended. In recent weeks, it has had one of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the world. Crisis management has been beset by confusion and petty politics, for which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deserves most of the blame.

But there’s another factor behind Israel’s stunning failure: While Israelis have generally abided by the lockdown rules, the ultra-Orthodox Jews known as Haredim who make up about 10-12 percent of the population have generally not, due their unique and jealously guarded lifestyle. The result is that they have accounted for as much as 40 percent of new daily confirmed cases.

The phenomenon is not unique to Israel: In the New York City metropolitan area, another region with a large population of ultra-Orthodox Jews, communities have also been hit hard by the coronavirus. In one, Kiryas Joel, about an hour north of the city, the average rate of positive test results recently was 28 percent, compared with 1 percent statewide.

In both Israel and New York, the question of how to address the problem has gotten enmeshed in politics. Never well-liked by Israel’s secular majority because of their refusal to serve in the army and their control over personal issues, such as marriage, Haredim have become a whipping boy in the mainstream media, which regales viewers with videos of mass gatherings in defiance of the rules and confrontations with the police.

In turn, Haredi leaders and apologists say they are being unfairly singled out. In New York, many claim they are being targeted due to anti-Semitism. More reasonably, they say that keeping the coronavirus under control is more difficult for them than for other populations.

To a degree, they have a point. Haredi Jews in Israel and to a lesser degree in the United States live in crowded conditions and have less access to information, not to mention fewer intellectual tools for fully understanding the pandemic by virtue of an education devoted almost exclusively to the study of religious texts. However, unlike any other impoverished, undereducated minority, the Haredim have consciously chosen this way of life by adhering to an ideology that looks upon the modern world as a threat. It undercuts the argument that they are blameless victims of a virus.

The crowding is one manifestation of a much bigger problem. In Israel—and increasingly in the United States—the ultra-Orthodox community is

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