Scientists urge debate commission to install air filtration system for debate
Scientists from the University of Maryland sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates urging them to install an air filtration system for Wednesday’s vice presidential debate in order to keep participants, staff and spectators safe.
“In a debate forum with unmasked debaters, the risk to the candidates and others is not from flying droplets expelled by speech or coughs but from aerosolized virus particles travelling in the air,” the letter reads. “Droplet spray does not easily travel twelve feet or more. Airborne particles, however, can and might reach everyone in the room.”
Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris has requested a plexiglass barrier at the debate in the wake of President Trump and several other White House officials testing positive for COVID-19 following the first presidential debate. The scientists warn, however, that this would be inadequate protection.
“Localized filtration and well controlled airflow can provide more effective protection of the participants than a barrier,” the letter said.
Stephen Miller tested positive for COVID
Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller has tested positive for COVID-19, he told CBS News in a statement. He said that he had already been working remotely and in isolation.
“Over the last 5 days I have been working remotely and self-isolating, testing negative every day through yesterday,” he said. “Today, I tested positive for COVID-19 and am in quarantine.”
Miller is a key aide to the president, and frequently writes his speeches.
His wife, Katie Miller, who is Vice President Pence’s press secretary, tested positive for coronavirus in May.
Pence doesn’t want plexiglass divider at vice presidential debate
A senior official close to Vice President Mike Pence confirmed to CBS News that the vice president does not want a plexiglass divider on his side of the stage at the debate on Wednesday. The senior official said Senator Kamala Harris and moderator Susan Page could have dividers if they want, but Pence doesn’t want them.
The senior official added that CDC guidance recommends plexiglass whenever six feet isn’t possible and that the tables are going to be beyond 12 feet apart. Pence’s opposition to the plexiglass shield was first reported by The Washington Post.
Harris’ press secretary, Sabrina Singh, said in a statement that Harris “will be at the debate, respecting the protections that the Cleveland Clinic has put in place to promote safety for all concerned.”
“If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their COVID response is a failure,” Singh said.
Biden again tests negative for COVID-19
Biden tested negative for COVID-19 again on Tuesday, his campaign announced.
“Vice President Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” his campaign said in a statement.
Facebook and Twitter take action against Trump post comparing COVID-19 to flu
A post from Mr. Trump downplaying COVID-19 in comparison to the flu was removed by Facebook and flagged by Twitter soon after the president posted it Tuesday morning. It was a rare instance of both social media companies swiftly taking action against one of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods on their platforms.
The president’s post claimed that “sometimes over 100,000” Americans a year die from the flu — a number that vastly overstates the normal toll from flu. “Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!” he wrote.
Mr. Trump’s claim about flu deaths is false. The CDC estimates that 12,000 to 61,000 Americans have died from influenza each year since 2010. By comparison, COVID-19 has killed more than 210,000 Americans over the last eight months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Twitter flagged the tweet with a message saying it “violated the Twitter Rules about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19,” and added a link to help users find more reliable information about the pandemic. But the president’s tweet was not taken down entirely because Twitter said it “determined that it may be in the public’s interest.”
Facebook, which has often been more hesitant to act on the president’s misinformation, removed the post entirely, citing its policies against COVID-19 misinformation.
Read more here.
Pence healthy with no coronavirus symptoms, physician says
Dr. Jesse Schonau, a White House physician, said in a memo released Tuesday that Pence “has remained healthy, without any COVID-19 symptoms” and “is not a close contact” with anyone who has tested positive for the coronavirus, including Mr Trump and senior White House aides, under CDC guidelines.
Schonau said the vice president has been tested daily for the coronavirus, and the results of his tests have all been negative.
“Vice President Mike Pence is encouraged to go about his normal activities and does not need to quarantine,” Schonau said.
The vice president left Washington for Salt Lake City on Monday ahead of the vice presidential debate.
Military leaders quarantining after top Coast Guard official tests positive
Nearly all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including its chairman, General Mark Milley, are quarantining after attending meetings last week at the Pentagon with the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Charles Ray, who has since tested positive.
In addition to the chairman, the list of top military officials in quarantine includes the vice chief of staff, Army chief of staff, chief of naval operations, Air Force chief of staff, CyberCom commander, the Space Force chief, chief of the National Guard and deputy commandant of the Marine Corps.
A Pentagon spokesman said the department is conducting contact tracing related to last week’s meetings.
“Out of an abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining and have been tested this morning. No Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms and we have no additional positive tests to report at this time,” spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said. “There is no change to the operational readiness or mission capability of the U.S. Armed Forces. Senior military leaders are able to remain fully mission capable and perform their duties from an alternative work location.”
Read more here.
White House doctor says Trump reports “no symptoms”
White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said in a memo to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that Mr. Trump “had a restful first night at home” and reports “no symptoms” from COVID-19.
Conley said the president’s doctors met with him in the residence Tuesday morning. His vital signs and physical exam are stable, Conley reported, and Mr. Trump has an ambulatory oxygen saturation level of 95% to 97%.
“Overall he continues to do extremely well,” Conley said.
Kamala Harris tests negative for COVID-19
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris took a PCR test for COVID-19 yesterday, and COVID-19 was not detected, a source with the Biden-Harris campaign confirmed.
Harris is set to go head-to-head with Pence for the first vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday.
White House exploring ways for Trump to address the nation
The White House is exploring various options for the president to address the nation as early as today, a senior administration official says. The White House is still trying to determine where within the White House they would do this, and it would be a pre-recorded video or a live, primetime address.
The president is determined to appear on the job and as if he has conquered the virus, even though his own doctors say he is not out of the woods yet and Fauci says they need to watch for a possible reversal in his recovery.
Pence tests negative for COVID-19 ahead of debate
Vice President Mike Pence tested negative for COVID-19 again on Tuesday, his office announced. He is in Salt Lake City, Utah, preparing for the vice presidential debate on Wednesday.
There will be several safety precautions taken at the debate tomorrow, including significant distancing between Pence, Senator Kamala Harris and moderator Susan Page, as well as plexiglass dividers around their podiums.
White House considering rooms where Trump can work and appear on TV
The White House is currently exploring various rooms in the complex that President Trump could use for both work and any addresses to the nation or TV appearances, a senior administration official told CBS News. The Diplomatic Reception Room and Map Room on the ground floor of the residence are both under consideration.
White House officials want to keep Mr. Trump as close to the residence as possible, as well as to the White House Medical Unit. The Oval Office is not considered feasible at this point because of the logistical issues, such as its distance from the residence and the medical unit.
The senior administration official said that the number of White House staffers interacting with the president and first lady is being kept to an absolute minimum, and anyone who comes near them has “appropriate PPE.”
Many people who can typically be found working in the White House and West Wing are in quarantine, infected or working from home. One White House staff member described the complex as “eerily quiet” to CBS News.
D.C. tops 100 new coronavirus cases for first time since August
The District of Columbia reported its highest daily increase in new cases of COVID-19 in nearly two months.
According to data from the mayor’s office, there were 105 new positive cases on October 5, the first triple-digit daily increase since August 8 and the highest increase since June 2, when there were 130 new cases.
Monday’s increase brings the 7-day daily average of new cases to 50.3, a jump of nearly 10 points from Sunday’s 7-day average of 40.4. The 7-day average was last above 50 on September 20.
There have been a total of 15,652 positive cases in the district since March 7, with 631 deaths.
Trump says he’s “feeling great”
After a morning of tweets in which he attacked Joe Biden and continued to downplay the threat of the coronavirus, Mr. Trump told his more than 87 million followers he is “feeling great” and “looking forward” to the second presidential debate.
“It will be great!” the president said of the next debate, which is scheduled for October 15 in Miami, Florida.
Mr. Trump is set to receive his fifth and final dose of the antiviral drug remdesivir at the White House today, his medical team said Monday before he was discharged from Walter Reed. They said he remained on dexamethasone, a powerful steroid.
Fauci says Trump’s doctors need to watch for “reversal” in condition
Hours after Mr. Trump was discharged from Walter Reed and returned to the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned the president’s condition could still go “in the wrong direction” as he continues to recover from COVID-19.
“He looks fine as you can see, the way he looked when he came out of the hospital,” Fauci said in an interview with CNN on Monday night. “The issue is that he’s still early enough in the disease that it’s no secret that if you look at the clinical course of people, sometimes when you’re five to eight days in, you’re going to have a reversal.”
Fauci added that “reversal” means “get into trouble.”
“It’s unlikely it’ll happen but they need to be heads-up for it,” he continued. “He knows it. The physicians know it, so they’re going to keep an eye on it.”
Disease experts alarmed by Trump’s message
Mr. Trump immediately ignited a new controversy when he got back to the White House after being discharged from Walter Reed Medical Center Monday evening by declaring that, despite his illness, the nation shouldn’t fear COVID-19.
Mr. Trump’s message alarmed infectious disease experts and suggested his own illness hadn’t caused him to rethink his often-cavalier attitude toward the disease.
“Don’t be afraid of it,” Mr. Trump said of the virus. “You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines.”
“We have to be realistic in this: COVID is a complete threat to the American population,” Dr. David Nace of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said of Mr. Trump’s comment. “Most of the people aren’t so lucky as the president,” with an in-house medical unit and access to experimental treatments, added Nace, an expert on infections in older adults.
“It’s an unconscionable message,” agreed Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “I would go so far as to say that it may precipitate or worsen spread.”
Likewise, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who spent more than 90 minutes on the debate stage with Mr. Trump last week, said during an NBC town hall Monday night that he was glad Mr. Trump seemed to be recovering well, “but there’s a lot to be concerned about — 210,000 people have died. I hope no one walks away with the message that it’s not a problem.” Biden tested negative for the virus on Sunday.
Trump tweet angers pandemic survivors
Some survivors of COVID-19 and people who have lost loved ones to the pandemic are angry over President Trump’s advice not to fear the disease.
The world’s most prominent coronavirus patient tweeted Monday that he’s feeling great and that people shouldn’t let COVID-19 dominate them.
Seneca Nation member and New York resident Marc Papaj lost his mother, grandmother and aunt to the virus. He was finding it tough to follow the president’s advice not to let the virus “dominate your life.” On the contrary, he says his loss will forever dominate the rest of his life.
At least 210,000 Americans have died from the virus since March.