COVID-19 🦠 Newsbites
Listen to Trump privately say in February that coronavirus is 'more deadly' than the worst flu as he publicly lied about the threat
  • Trump knew far more about the threat of COVID-19 than he publicly acknowledged in the early months of the outbreak, newly released recordings reveal.
  • In conversations with veteran journalist Bob Woodward, the president said the virus was "more deadly" than the worst flus.
  • Publicly, Trump said the virus was under control and nothing to worry about. He repeatedly lied to the public.
See also: 25 times Trump downplayed COVID-19 publicly after telling Bob Woodward on tape it was 'more deadly than strenuous flus'

Trump Called the Coronavirus ‘Deadly’ in Private While Minimizing Its Risks in Public, Book Reveals
In a taped interview with the journalist Bob Woodward, President Trump admitted that he intentionally played down the threat of the coronavirus.
See also: Trump’s Deceptive Comparison of the Coronavirus to the Flu

Trump Defends Comments to Woodward Downplaying Coronavirus
President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his comments about having downplayed the coronavirus during his conversations with journalist Bob Woodward, saying he didn't want to "create panic."

"The fact is, I'm a cheerleader for this country," Trump said at a press conference to announce judicial appointees. "I love our country, and I don't want people to be frightened."

The president defended his administration's work on the pandemic, saying it has done an "incredible job," adding that China "should have stopped" the virus.

"We don't want to instill panic," Trump said. "We don't want to jump up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem."

Carl Bernstein — Bob Woodward's old reporting partner — said the tape of Trump admitting to downplaying COVID-19 is worse than Watergate, calling it 'homicidal negligence'
  • Veteran reporter Carl Bernstein, who reported on the Watergate scandal with Bob Woodward, has said his former colleague's revelations about President Trump and COVID-19 are "graver than in Watergate."
  • Woodward recorded the president telling him in February that the coronavirus was "deadly," then telling him in March that he "always" downplayed its impact.
  • Trump reasoned that he did not want to spread panic, and the White House has said he has never lied to the American public.
  • Bernstein on Wednesday accused the president of endangering the health of Americans in order to further his reelection interests, framing it as "a kind of homicidal negligence."

Why Trump agreed to be interviewed by Bob Woodward 18 times, despite his top aides' advice
  • Top aides are reportedly baffled about why President Donald Trump agreed to 18 separate interviews with veteran reporter Bob Woodward.
  • In the recorded conversations, Trump can be heard making damaging admissions, including that he delibeately downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in the early weeks of the outbreak.
  • News outlets including Politico and CNN are reporting that Trump ignored the advice of aides and went ahead with the interviews because he believed he could "charm" Woodward.
  • Throughout his presidency, Trump has placed faith in his charisma, and capacity to charm and cajole. This time it appears to have backfired.

N.I.H. Director Undercuts Trump’s Comments on Covid-19 Vaccines
The director, Dr. Francis Collins, took issue with President Trump’s suggestion that a coronavirus vaccine would be available by Election Day.

How the Coronavirus Attacks the Brain
The coronavirus targets the lungs foremost, but also the kidneys, liver and blood vessels. Still, about half of patients report neurological symptoms, including headaches, confusion and delirium, suggesting the virus may also attack the brain.

A new study offers the first clear evidence that, in some people, the coronavirus invades brain cells, hijacking them to make copies of itself. The virus also seems to suck up all of the oxygen nearby, starving neighboring cells to death.

It’s unclear how the virus gets to the brain or how often it sets off this trail of destruction. Infection of the brain is likely to be rare, but some people may be susceptible because of their genetic backgrounds, a high viral load or other reasons.

College Quarantine Breakdowns Leave Some at Risk
Colleges are trying to isolate students who have the coronavirus or have been exposed to it, but they are running into a host of problems.

Across the United States, colleges that have reopened for in-person instruction are struggling to contain the rapid-fire spread of coronavirus among tens of thousands of students by imposing tough social-distancing rules and piloting an array of new technologies, like virus tracking apps.

But perhaps their most complex problem has been what to do with students who test positive for the virus or come into contact with someone who has. To this end, many campuses are subjecting students to one of the oldest infection control measures known to civilization: quarantine.

UK's Boris Johnson will lower limits on social gatherings to control coronavirus spread
England, which is seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases, will ban most social gatherings of more than six people beginning next week.

The new lower limit, revised down from 30, will make it easier for police to identify and disperse illegal gatherings of more than six people unless it meets one of the exemptions. Exemptions include: A household or support bubble larger than six, if gatherings are for work or education purposes, weddings, funerals, or organized team sports.

Trump, campaign crowd appear to violate North Carolina mask order
Trump at a rally in Winston-Salem
A crowd of hundreds of people gathered for a Trump campaign rally in North Carolina on Tuesday, many of them forgoing masks in defiance of the state’s guidelines -- including the President.

Before Tuesday's event, the Republican chairman of the local county commission said the President should wear a mask during his speech, a virtually unimaginable prospect for a President who has mocked election rival Joe Biden for wearing one and who demanded reporters remove their face coverings when asking him questions on Monday.

US needs 200 million Covid-19 tests a month, new report recommends
The United States needs to perform as many as 200 million coronavirus tests every month well into next year if there's to be any chance of controlling the pandemic, experts said in a new report released on Wednesday.

That is way beyond current capacity, but new, fast tests are being developed and once they reach the market it should be possible, according to the report from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy.

The report comes a day after National Institutes of Health directors said that testing "as many people as possible" was vital to helping fight the pandemic. Their joint blog post contradicts recently changed guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicates that not everyone who believes they have been exposed needs to be tested.

LA County bans trick-or-treating due to coronavirus
Trick-or-treating will not be allowed in Los Angeles County this Halloween due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus, according to new guidance from the local health department.

“Trunk or treating” events where children trick-or-treat from cars are also not allowed.

Under the guidance, gatherings or parties with non-household members are prohibited even when conducted outdoors. Carnivals, festivals, live entertainment, and haunted house attractions are also prohibited.

The county’s public health department is encouraging alternative ways to celebrate Halloween this year, including online parties and car parades that comply with public health orders. Individuals must remain in their vehicles during these drive-thru events.

As the nation’s most populous county with over 10 million residents, Los Angeles County remains in the first tier of the state’s four-tiered reopening system.

To date, Los Angeles County has reported a total of 249,241 Covid-19 cases and 6,036 deaths.

More than half a million US children have been diagnosed with Covid-19
More than 513,000 US children have been diagnosed with Covid-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

The groups found that 70,630 new child cases were reported from Aug. 20 through Sept. 3. This is a 16% increase in child cases over two weeks, bringing up the total to at least 513,415 cases, the groups said in their weekly report on pediatric coronavirus cases.

“These numbers are a chilling reminder of why we need to take this virus seriously,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Sally Goza. “While much remains unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities,” she added.

JPMorgan investigates employees over potential misuse of PPP loans
In a memo to staff on Tuesday, JPMorgan (JPM) urged employees to be "vigilant" about fraud involving government stimulus programs.

The probe was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

JPMorgan, the nation's largest bank, said it has seen "conduct that does not live up to our business and ethical principles — and may even be illegal." The company said it is working to identify the abuse and cooperating with law enforcement.

The memo, signed by JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and other top executives, said that includes "instances of customers misusing" PPP loans, unemployment benefits and other programs.

"Some employees have fallen short, too," the bank said.

JPMorgan urged employees to "say something" if they see improper conduct, including reporting confidentially to managers or through the bank's conduct hot line: "We take each report seriously and will take action, including disciplinary, when warranted."

It's not clear whether any charges have been filed, nor whether JPMorgan has already taken disciplinary action against employees. The bank declined to comment beyond the memo.

... JPMorgan alone has funded more than 280,000 PPP loans totaling more than $32 billion.

... In July, authorities accused a man in Miami with bank fraud for allegedly lying on PPP loan applications and spending the money on a $318,000 Lamborghini and other luxury purchases.

New Jersey nursing home where authorities found 17 bodies sued for alleged failures during Covid-19
The nephew of a man who died during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in New Jersey is suing the nursing home where his uncle was a resident, alleging that the facility failed to provide the legally required level of care while fraudulently claiming to do so.

The nursing home, Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center II in Lafayette Township, New Jersey, is the same facility where authorities found 17 bodies in April in a morgue meant for four. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is continuing to investigate Covid-19-related deaths at the facility.

Brian Roberts of New Jersey filed the suit in Sussex County Superior Court on Tuesday. The suit names the nursing home, a sister facility called Andover Subacute Rehab Center I and owners Louis Schwartz and Chaim Scheinbaum as defendants, in addition to unnamed staff members and assorted business entities.

Scheinbaum, one of the owners of the facility and a named defendant in the suit, declined to comment on Roberts' specific allegations, but said in a statement that the staff of Andover II had taken the Covid-19 threat seriously.