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10 things you need to know today: May 2, 2020

FDA approves emergency use of remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment, Fauci blocked from testifying before House committee, and more


FDA approves emergency use of remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the emergency use of the antiviral remdesivir on COVID-19 patients. Gilead Sciences revealed promising study results involving remdesivir on Wednesday, and the Trump administration announced the authorization, which sidesteps the usual testing required to approve a drug's usage, during a Friday Oval Office meeting between President Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar, FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, and Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O'Day. In Gilead's trial, at least 50 percent of patients treated with remdesivir improved, though the study wasn't evaluated against a control group, and it's unclear if those recoveries were natural. As clinical trials continue, doctors can use remdesivir on some patients. O'Day said Gilead is working to rapidly increase its supply.


Fauci blocked from testifying before House committee

The White House confirmed Friday it is blocking Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has taken on a prominent role in the Trump administration's coronavirus response, from testifying before the Democrat-led House Appropriations Committee about the pandemic next week. White House spokesman Judd Deere said "it is counterproductive" to have someone like Fauci, who is heavily involved in the government's efforts to re-open the American economy and expedite a coronavirus vaccine, step away from those tasks and testify. Deere did say the White House would work with Congress to find a more "appropriate time" for Fauci to testify. Fauci, who at times has dissented from President Trump on certain coronavirus-related matters, will reportedly appear before the Republican-led Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee the following week.


Biden denies Tara Reade's sexual assault allegation

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday addressed for the first time former staffer Tara Reade's allegation that he sexually assaulted her in 1993. "I want to address allegations by a former staffer that I engaged in misconduct 27 years ago," Biden said in a statement. "They aren't true. This never happened." Biden said Reade's story "has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways," and he said he is asking the National Archives to identify a record of a complaint Reade says she filed in the Senate and release it to the press "if there was ever any such complaint." Biden had been facing calls to personally address Reade's allegation after his campaign previously denied it.


European countries begin to ease some coronavirus restrictions

Coronavirus restrictions continued to ease Saturday in some European countries, including Spain, one of the world's hardest-hit nations. Adults were allowed outside to exercise for the first time in seven weeks, prompting runners and cyclists to hit the pavement, though social distancing guidelines remain in place. In Madrid, a field hospital set up by the military at a convention center was closed, as was a makeshift morgue established at an ice rink. Spain has more than 213,000 cases of COVID-19 with 24,543 deaths. Elsewhere, museums, zoos, and playgrounds were permitted to open for the first time in several weeks in Germany. Italy will begin loosening some restrictions Monday.


North Korean state media: Kim Jong Un makes first public appearance in 20 days

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance in 20 days on Friday, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports, citing state media. Kim reportedly made his appearance for the completion of a fertilizer plant north of Pyongyang. Kim was out of the public eye for weeks, sparking rumors he was in ill health or even dead. CNN reported in April that the U.S. was monitoring intelligence that Kim was "in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery," though South Korean officials disputed that report, saying he was "alive and well" and likely simply mildly sick or "being isolated because of coronavirus concerns." While North Korean state media reported Kim's appearance, few details were verifiable regarding his presence or his health.


Newsom says California could ease restrictions in a matter of days

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Hunting Beach, south of Los Angeles, on Friday to protest California Gov. Newsom's (D) decision to close beaches throughout the state as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the measure was a breach of individual liberties. Many of the protesters were reportedly not wearing masks. But during his Friday press conference, Newsom said he is hopefully just "days" away from lifting some restrictions in California's stay-at-home order, which is one of the strictest in the country. The governor hinted that restaurants may soon be able to re-open for table service with some safety measures, but people will need to continue to shelter at home in the meantime before any changes come to fruition.


Canada bans all assault-style weapons

Canada on Friday banned the use and sale of all assault-style weapons, effective immediately, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced. The ban comes after a deadly shooting in Nova Scotia in April that ended with 22 people dead. The Associated Press writes the ban affects "over 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms, including two weapons used by the [Nova Scotia] gunman as well as the AR-15." Trudeau said the weapons are unnecessary for hunting, and said "There is no use — and no place — for such weapons in Canada." It is "no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade, assault weapons in this country," said Trudeau, but it is not illegal to own the weapons.


Bezos called to testify on Amazon's possibly 'perjurious' statements

House Judiciary Committee members on Friday asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify before Congress and clarify statements from the company they say may be "criminally false." The Wall Street Journal reported last week that although Amazon says it does not use data from third-party sellers to develop competing products, interviews with more than 20 former employees "reveal that employees did just that." Amazon associate general counsel Nate Sutton told Congress last year "we don't use individual seller data directly to compete" with third-party sellers. Seven lawmakers asked Bezos to testify. "If the reporting in the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, then statements Amazon made to the committee about the company's business practices appear to be misleading, and possibly criminally false or perjurious," the letter says.


Judge sides with U.S. Soccer in USWNT's pay discrimination case

A federal judge issued a ruling late Friday hampering the United States women's national soccer team's lawsuit which claims the U.S. Soccer Federation violated the Equal Pay Act by paying them less then the men's national team. Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled the plaintiffs were not able to demonstrate they were paid less than their male counterparts between 2015 and 2019, siding with U.S. Soccer which has said the USWNT was paid more overall during that time frame. The women said that was only because they played more games than the men, but Klausner's ruling cited as undisputed fact that the USWNT averaged more per game, as well. The judge also sided in part with U.S. Soccer in response to the plaintiffs' claim they were discriminated against by being subjected to playing on inferior surfaces.


Scrubs actor Sam Lloyd dies at 56

Sam Lloyd, the actor best known for his role as Sacred Heart's lawyer Ted Buckland on the television comedy Scrubs, died, his agent confirmed Friday. He was 56. Lloyd's agent did not provide details on the cause, but the actor was diagnosed with a brain tumor and cancer last year that had spread to his lungs and spine. Lloyd, who was also a talented musician, additionally appeared in shows like Seinfeld, Modern Family, and The West Wing. Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence and Lloyd's co-star on the show Zach Braff offered tributes to the actor on Twitter, with Braff noting Lloyd never failed to make him laugh and break character when they shared a scene.


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