Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
CDC abruptly removes guidance about airborne coronavirus transmission, says update 'was posted in error'
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly dropped new guidance from its website about airborne transmission of the coronavirus yesterday, just days after publishing it and hours after this newsletter reported it.

The agency said a draft version was posted in error, before it had gone through the normal review process, and reverted to its previous guidance, which does not mention airborne transmission.

The back and forth by America’s top health authority is confusing and worrying. Scientists have been calling for the risk of airborne transmission to be recognized by health authorities.

Taiwan led the world in closing down for Covid-19, now it wants to do the same with opening back up
On the streets of Taipei, there are few if any visible signs that this is 2020 and the world is in the grip of a raging pandemic. As the global number of confirmed Covid-19 cases surpasses 30 million, residents of Taipei seem relaxed in the knowledge there has been only one suspected case linked to local transmission in the city since mid-April.

In Taiwan as a whole -- an island with a population of approximately 23 million people -- there have been around 500 confirmed cases and just 7 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

NFL levies more than $1 million in fines against 3 teams and their coaches who didn't wear masks during games
The teams facing sanctions are the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers.

The three head coaches of those teams -- Seattle's Pete Carroll, Denver's Vic Fangio and San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan -- were each fined $100,000, the source said.

NIH official to 'retire' after being ID'd as author of anti-Fauci posts on right-wing blog
A public affairs official at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will "retire" after a news report identified him as the anonymous author of blog posts on a conservative website that disparaged Dr. Anthony Fauci and mocked the use of masks, a spokesperson for the health agency said Monday.

The Daily Beast reported Monday that William Crews, who worked in NIAID's communications branch, is a managing editor working under a pseudonym for the right-wing opinion website RedState who had mocked Fauci as a "mask Nazi" and described wearing face coverings as "a political statement."

"NIAID first learned of this matter this morning, and Mr. Crews has informed us of his intention to retire," a NIAID spokesperson told CNN. "We have no further comments on this as it is a personnel matter."

Chinese tycoon who criticized Xi Jinping's handling of coronavirus jailed for 18 years
A Chinese billionaire who criticized President Xi Jinping's handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been jailed for 18 years on corruption charges, a court said Tuesday.

Ren Zhiqiang, a retired real-estate tycoon with close ties to senior Chinese officials, disappeared in March after he allegedly penned a scathing essay that month criticizing Xi's response to the coronavirus epidemic. He was later charged with corruption-related offenses.

On Tuesday, a court in Beijing found Ren guilty on multiple charges, including embezzling some $16.3 million (110.6 million yuan) in public funds, accepting bribes, and abuse of power that caused losses totaling $17.2 million (116.7 million yuan) for the state-owned property company that he once headed.

Judges sentenced him to 18 years in prison and imposed a fine of $620,000 (4.2 million yuan). The court said he "voluntarily confessed all of his crimes" and "was willing to accept the court's verdict after all of his illegal gains were recovered."

China's court system has a conviction rate of around 99%, according to legal observers, and corruption charges are often used to go after Communist Party insiders who fall afoul of the leadership.

Ren's conviction and heavy sentence appears designed to send a message to other members of the Chinese elite that any public criticism or defiance of Xi will not be tolerated, as Beijing continues to deal with the fallout of the pandemic and faces intense international pressure from Washington and others.

Without Ginsburg, Supreme Court Could Rule Three Ways on Obamacare
The recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and President Trump’s vows to replace her on the Supreme Court as soon as possible, have increased the possibility that the Affordable Care Act could be overturned in the midst of a pandemic.

Coverage: Roughly 21 million Americans are at serious risk of losing their health insurance if the A.C.A. is overturned. Millions of Americans have already lost their job-based health insurance during the current crisis, and many have relied on Obamacare as backup coverage.

Vaccines: The A.C.A. includes a mandate for insurers to cover preventive care, much of it for free, and that includes vaccines.

Pre-existing conditions: Contracting the coronavirus, which leaves many patients with lingering health problems, could make it difficult or impossible for people to get health insurance in the future if part or all of the A.C.A. is invalidated.