Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
US coronavirus cases hit record daily high and experts warn daily death rates will triple by mid-January
Nearly 90,000 new coronavirus infections were reported in the United States on Thursday, the highest single-day total in the country since the pandemic began. That's equivalent to about one new case every second.

US will cross 100,000 daily Covid-19 infections "at some point" in next couple of weeks, former FDA head says
Former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has warned that the US could cross the 100,000 cases per day threshold sometime in the next couple of weeks -- or maybe even this week.

Gottlieb added that this is due to the public's behavior and lack of caution.

Fact check: Trump falsely claims California requires people to wear 'special' and 'complex' mask at all times
Do people in California really eat through their masks?

The answer is (obviously) no. But that didn't stop Trump from making the outlandish claim at a campaign rally in Arizona on Wednesday -- at which there was no social distancing and most attendees did not wear masks: "In California, you have a special mask. You cannot, under any circumstances, take it off. You have to eat through the mask," the President said. "It's a very complex mechanism. And they don't realize, those germs, they go through it like nothing."

Californians are not required to wear "complex" or "special" masks, as the President claimed on Wednesday; basic face coverings, even homemade ones, are acceptable there. Though Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed a statewide mask order, Californians are not required to wear masks at all times; they can remove them when at home, when alone in a room outside their home, when outdoors and more than 6 feet from others, and when eating or drinking. And while people can transmit the coronavirus or get infected while wearing masks, face coverings have proven effective in reducing the chances of transmission; they are much better than "nothing." ... Top health officials in the federal government, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield, have emphasized that the widespread use of masks is critical to the fight against the virus.

Many counties that hosted Trump rallies had a significant increase in Covid-19 cases
A CNN investigation of 17 Trump campaign rallies finds that 14 of the host counties -- 82% of them -- had an increased rate of Covid-19 infections one month after the event.

The 17 rallies occurred between August 17 and September 26. Of the host counties that had increased infection rates, eight had declining rates in the preceding month before the rally. The other six counties already had increasing rates of infection.

Fact check: No, the media didn't suddenly change its reporting on coronavirus immunity after Trump got infected
President Donald Trump has been telling a conspiratorial story about the media and the coronavirus.

The story goes like this: The media had always said that people who survived a Covid-19 infection would be immune from the virus for life. But once he, Trump, got infected and survived, the media started claiming immunity only lasted for months.

Trump's story is false. In the months before Trump tested positive for Covid-19 in early October, numerous major media outlets had reported that scientists were not yet sure how long survivors might have immunity. While we can't definitively say there was no media report whatsoever from before Trump's infection that had claimed survivors would get lifetime immunity, it was certainly not widely reported that survivors were immune for life.

A CNN fact check in July concluded: "It remains unclear if those already infected with the virus are immune to any reinfection. Additionally, it's unknown how long any sort of immunity would last." A CNN story in mid-August was headlined, "Are you immune to Covid-19 for three months after recovering? It's not clear." And CNN wrote in August about a Nevada man who was infected with the virus twice -- quoting Mark Pandori, the director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, as saying: "After one recovers from COVID-19, we still do not know how much immunity is built up, how long it may last, or how well antibodies play a role in protection against a reinfection."

Even upbeat media stories about optimistic findings about immunity noted that the facts had not been conclusively settled.

12 ways the Trump administration botched America's response to Covid-19
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has listed "ending the Covid-19 pandemic" as an administration achievement; however, the epidemic continues to worsen, and a number of administration errors have led to the current dire circumstances.

Donald Trump Jr said that COVID-19 deaths are down to 'almost nothing' as 1,000 new deaths recorded
  • Donald Trump Jr claimed that COVID-19 deaths had fallen to "almost nothing" in an interview with Fox News on Thursday.
  • Trump Jr defended the coronavirus policies of his father, President Donald Trump, as infection rates and deaths again climb.
  • Though the survival rate for COVID-19 patients has improved, deaths are projected to continue increasing.
Trump Jr, like his father, has consistently sought to downplay the impact of the coronavirus.

With Election Day only four days away, Trump's faltering response to the crisis is believed to a key reason why he trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the polls.

Crude attacks target the health authorities in Germany.
Last Sunday, before Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany announced a second national lockdown, a homemade bomb exploded in the early morning hours in central Berlin, close to a research institute that tracks virus cases and less than a mile from Ms. Merkel’s office. The bomb produced a flash and a boom but not much else. No one was hurt.

But a note found in the blast’s vicinity made clear that the bomb was more than a juvenile prank: The letter demanded the end of all measures aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, the resignation of the entire government and new elections, the newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported on Thursday. The note also indicated that more of the same would come if the authorities did not meet the demands.

Protests against coronavirus restrictions in Germany have included signs and slogans personally attacking politicians or scientists, but the crude bomb in Berlin and other recent attacks are among the first documented cases of violence directed at the scientific institutes helping to fight the pandemic. One favorite target of demonstrators has been the federal health minister Jens Spahn, who recently tested positive for the virus but said he would return to work next week after quarantining at home.

‘It’s going to get worse before it gets better,’ the Connecticut governor says as 3 cities add restrictions.
Months after Connecticut first began its reopening, its largest cities on Thursday announced plans to reimpose restrictions on businesses and gatherings as the state confronts a surge in virus cases.

Over the past week, Connecticut has seen an average of 725 cases per day, according to a Times analysis — more than double its average two weeks earlier.

Earlier this month, the state released a color-coded plan to begin targeted shutdowns in the hardest-hit municipalities, which are labeled red. Thirty towns and cities are currently in red zones, meaning they must cancel public events and postpone indoor and outdoor activities where social-distancing or wearing masks is not possible.

Those municipalities are also allowed to roll back to an earlier phase of the state’s reopening plan, reducing the occupancy limits for many businesses and capping the size of private gatherings.

As of Thursday, three of the state’s largest cities — New Haven, Bridgeport and Stamford — said they would roll back their reopenings.

Regeneron says it will stop enrolling seriously ill Covid-19 patients in its antibody trials.
The drug maker Regeneron said on Friday that it would stop enrolling very sick people in a trial of its antibody treatment in hospitalized patients with Covid-19, in another sign that the treatments appear to not work well in patients who have advanced forms of the disease.

The company said that an outside panel of experts had recommended that people who required high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation not be given the antibody treatment because the risks outweighed the benefits. But it said patients who were hospitalized but not as sick — those who needed either no or low-flow oxygen — could continue in the trial.

Earlier this week, Eli Lilly announced that hospitalized patients in one of its trials would no longer receive its antibody treatment after a similar finding that the therapy did not appear effective.

The news added further evidence to the theory that monoclonal antibodies work best when given to people early in the course of the disease, soon after they have been infected. This week, Regeneron released new data from a separate trial of outpatients that found that the treatment significantly reduced levels of the virus and the need for medical visits, and Eli Lilly has published similar results.

Health-care workers file lawsuit against OSHA, accusing agency of failing to keep them safe
Unions representing hundreds of thousands of nurses and health-care workers filed a lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Thursday, alleging that the agency is violating its duties to keep workers safe by failing to issue an infectious-disease standard to protect health-care workers during the pandemic.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Washington State Nurses Association and the United Nurses Associations of California with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. It alleges OSHA’s decision not to set safety standards about infectious diseases is “unreasonable and unlawful” and a violation of federal law that requires the agency to issue standards for significant health risks.

Former OSHA officials have spoken out forcefully against the agency, but the Trump administration has defended the agency’s approach.

The lawsuit seeks a writ of mandamus — a court order that would require OSHA to fulfill its duties.

Los Angeles schools will probably stick with remote learning until at least January.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest system, will probably not bring students back into classrooms until at least January, two members of the Board of Education said on Thursday.

The state requires a county to have no more than seven new daily cases per 100,000 people for two weeks before schools can fully reopen. In Los Angeles County, the daily case number is now about 18, and it has been climbing.

The president of the school board, Richard Vladovic, said that even if infections started declining soon, it would not make sense to reopen schools just as the holidays are about to begin.

... The district has said that when it does reopen, it will use a hybrid model, in which students cycle between going to school buildings and learning at home.

Masks Work. Really. We’ll Show You How.
Masks work. The Times takes a visual journey through the microscopic world of the coronavirus to illustrate how masks provide an important defense against transmission.

Wearing a mask is more important than ever. In this animation, you will see just how effective a swath of fabric can be at fighting the pandemic.