August 23, 2020

President Trump on Sunday announced that the Food and Drug Administration has issued an emergency use authorization for the use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients.

The FDA said more than 70,000 patients have been treated with convalescent plasma, which is taken from people who have recovered from COVID-19, and the "known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product." Trump called the move "historic" and claimed the treatment will "save countless lives."

There is no conclusive evidence that using convalescent plasma works, and Denise Hinton, the FDA's chief scientist, said this "should not be considered a new standard of care for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Additional data will be forthcoming from other analyses and ongoing, well-controlled clinical trials in the coming months."

Trump, who has touted the use of everything from disinfectants to antimalarial drugs to treat COVID-19, recently accused the FDA of "making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics." Benjamin Corb of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology told The Associated Press Trump's Sunday announcement has "conspicuous timing. President Trump is once against putting his political goals ahead of the health and well-being of the American public." Catherine Garcia

July 30, 2020

Herman Cain, the former pizza mogul and brief frontrunner in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, has died of COVID-19. It is not known for sure where he contracted the virus, but he came down with symptoms nine days after attending President Trump's campaign rally in Tulsa on June 20, and posted a picture online of himself there in a group of people without masks.

In other news, Bill Montgomery, the 80-year-old co-founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA, has also died of COVID-19. It has not been reported where he might have come down with the virus, but the other founder of TPUSA, Charlie Kirk, has repeatedly spread misinformation about the pandemic in general and masks in particular. On Kirk's podcast last weekend, he stated he refuses to wear a mask, and falsely suggested that doing so might make you sicker. The official TPUSA Twitter account deleted a tweet mocking mask-wearing after Montgomery's death.

The whole conservative movement has been trying to deny, downplay, and disregard this pandemic from the start. The resulting collateral damage now includes several prominent figures in their own ranks. But even that might not be enough to convince them to shift direction — 66-year-old Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tex.) recently tested positive, but he suggested on TV that it might have been from wearing a mask. Ryan Cooper

July 22, 2020

The number of Americans infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus is anywhere from two times higher than the reported rate to 13 times higher, depending on the area of the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The report is based on an analysis of antibody tests, which indicate whether a person has been infected, and it's the largest of its kind so far. The U.S. has 3.9 million reported COVID-19 cases and 142,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

About 40 percent of people infected with the new virus never develop symptoms, and they can spread the disease throughout a community without even knowing it. Increased testing would catch some of these silent spreaders and help contain the disease, The New York Times says.

Researchers have also narrowed down their calculation of how deadly COVID-19 is, estimating now that between 5 and 10 people of every 1,000 infected with the coronavirus will die from it, The Wall Street Journal reports. That fatality rate, between 0.5 and 1.0 percent, makes COVID-19 much deadlier than the seasonal flu and less dangerous than Ebola and other recently discovered infectious diseases.

"It's not just what the infection-fatality rate is, it's also how contagious the disease is, and COVID is very contagious," Eric Toner, an emergency medicine physician and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells the Journal. "It's the combination of the fatality rate and the infectiousness that makes this such a dangerous disease." Peter Weber

July 15, 2020

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced on Wednesday he has tested positive for COVID-19, making him the first governor known to be infected by the virus.

Stitt said he was tested on Tuesday, and while he feels "a little bit achy," overall he is "fine." He is isolating away from his family.

In March, Stitt faced backlash after posting a photo online showing him with his children at a crowded restaurant, not wearing masks; he later deleted the picture. Stitt also pushed to quickly reopen the state in May, and he said Wednesday that despite the number of coronavirus cases climbing in Oklahoma — a record 1,075 new cases were just recorded — he won't impose new statewide restrictions or a mask mandate.

"I know that some businesses are mandating masks and that's great," he said. "But you can't pick and choose what freedoms you're going to give people. So if the businesses want to do it, if some local municipalities want to do it, that's fine. But again, we also respect people's rights to stay home if they want, to run their businesses, or to not wear a mask."

Stitt, who attended President Trump's Tulsa rally on June 20 and did not wear a mask, also said he is "pretty shocked" that he is the first governor to test positive for COVID-19. Catherine Garcia

July 10, 2020

Authorities across the United States reported another day of record new coronavirus infections on Thursday, marking the sixth new high in 10 days, The New York Times reports. The surge of about 60,000 new cases was driven by spiking infections across the South and the West, mostly in states that eased lockdowns and reopened their economies early after the first spike in the spring.

At least six states — Alabama, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, and Texas — reported single-day infection records. At least two states saw their biggest death toll increases yet, with Florida reporting 120 deaths and Tennessee 22. Hospitalizations rose sharply in some areas, too, forcing many hospitals across the South and West to open up beds by canceling elective surgeries and discharging patients early. Harold Maass

July 9, 2020

A White House reporter who attended press briefings on Monday and Wednesday has tested positive for COVID-19.

The unnamed journalist "wore a mask the entire time they were on the White House complex," Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, told the New York Post in an email Thursday. "The individual is asymptomatic. We are contacting those who the individual recalled being in close contact."

Karl also said the reporter was only in the briefing room, "not elsewhere in our workspace." The White House is offering coronavirus tests to members of the press who were near the journalist. Catherine Garcia

July 9, 2020

The total number of U.S. coronavirus cases reached 3 million on Wednesday as officials confirmed a record 60,000-plus new cases over the previous 24 hours, and the national death toll rose above 132,000. States in the South and West continued to report spiking new infections. California and Texas both reported more than 10,000 new cases on Wednesday. U.S. deaths, which had been trending downward, rose by more than 900 for the second straight day, the highest level since early June, Reuters reports. Hospitalizations also have increased in the states where infections have jumped, including Florida, where 56 intensive care units this week reached capacity, and Arizona, where ICUs are rapidly filling up, too. Infections have risen in 42 of the 50 states over the past two weeks, according to Reuters. Harold Maass

July 3, 2020

The United States hit another grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic Thursday, recording 55,220 new daily cases, according to The Washington Post. Georgia and Florida both set single-day records — Georgia reported 3,472 new daily cases, while Florida recorded a staggering 10,109 cases Thursday, up more than 3,500 from Wednesday's record-breaking total. "It's the 25th consecutive day that Florida has set a record high in its seven-day rolling average," the Post says.

Texas reported nearly 8,000 new cases Thursday, and in Houston, hospitals are being forced to transfer patients to facilities in other parts of the state as intensive care units near capacity due to the surge in COVID-19 patients. "We're running out of ICU beds," Harris Health Systems spokesman Bryan McLeod told ABC News. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) mandated everyone in the state wear masks in public to help slow the spread of the virus.

There have been more than 11 million coronavirus cases worldwide, with 521,000 global deaths. While cases continue to skyrocket in the U.S., there hasn't been a corresponding surge in the death toll. However, a study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine said the true COVID-19 death toll may be significantly higher than what's being reported. Jessica Hullinger

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