A version of this story appeared in the September 2 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
(CNN)The White House has all but given up hopes of stopping the spread of coronavirus.
It has moved away from the suppression and mitigation efforts advocated by medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, instead focusing on the reopening of the economy under the imprimatur of new White House adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, who has no expertise in infectious diseases or epidemiology, Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak report.An administration official told CNN that many policies Atlas has pushed internally fall into a similar vein as “herd immunity,” though Atlas denies pushing that strategy. Experts have warned that a strategy based on the concept, which relies on allowing the virus to run rampant in order to develop community resistance, could lead to several million deaths in the long term. Nor is it clear that survivors’ develop long-lasting immunity: a number of pre-print studies suggest that humans can develop Covid-19 twice.
Atlas, a contrarian doctor who caught President Donald Trump’s eye after appearances on Fox News, has rejected the need for widespread community testing, arguing that the administration should focus almost exclusively on protecting and testing elderly populations.The shift comes amid fierce political pressure from the White House on government agencies to approve new treatments and even a vaccine before Phase 3 trials are complete. This approach could provide Trump with a short-term political payoff in a vicious re-election fight, but could also have dire scientific consequences, Stephen Collinson writes. Read MoreFauci said Tuesday that the only legitimate way to end the coronavirus vaccine trials early was if ongoing clinical trials produce overwhelmingly positive results. He added that an independent board, which is not filled with government employees, has the authority to end the trials weeks early if interim results are overwhelmingly positive or negative.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED
Q: We need a babysitter. How do I keep my family safe with someone new in the house?A: The Harvard Medical School offers several tips, including:
- Choosing a babysitter who has minimal exposure to other people besides your family
- Keeping the number of babysitters as low as possible. If you can keep it to one, that’s ideal
- Making sure the babysitter understands they need to practice social distancing and limit physical interaction with your children as much as possible
- Telling the babysitter that they must not come to your house if feeling even slightly sick, or after known exposure to coronavirus
- Making sure everyone washes their hands frequently, especially before eating.
Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
US won’t join global vaccine effort because it is led by WHOThe White House said it will not participate in an international effort to develop and distribute the coronavirus vaccine because the initiative is tied to the World Health Organization (WHO). The decision will keep the US isolated from more than 170 countries involved in the COVAX initiative working to provide worldwide access to an effective vaccine, Paul LeBlanc writes. Aside from underscoring Trump’s long-standing distrust of global alliances and, in particular, his criticism of WHO, the decision marks a notable bet on Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s effort to speed development of drugs, vaccines and other measures to fight the pandemic. A first recession in nearly three decades for AustraliaAustralia has fallen into its first economic recession in nearly 30 years, and shutdown measures and other efforts to contain the virus are being blamed.The country’s GDP contracted 7% in the second quarter compared to the prior one, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. It marks the second straight quarter of declines — GDP shrank 0.3% in the first quarter — and the largest drop since records began in 1959.Australia had also been wrangling with issues before the pandemic. The country was ravaged by wildfires earlier this year, which hampered consumer spending and tourism, according to the Australian Tourism Export Council. CDC broadens eviction protections, Iowa given a dire warning In an extraordinary move to stave off an impending eviction crisis across the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that halted evictions for some Americans struggling to pay their rent due to the pandemic. It did so by broadening existing protections. But senior administration officials say renters will have to prove a number of things before qualifying, and will still have to pay back any missed rent payments. This comes as a White House task force report sent to officials in Iowa warned of a dire rise in cases across the state. The report calls for a mask mandate, the closure of bars and a plan from universities as the pandemic intensifies in the Midwest. Last week, the state had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population, the report notes. The three counties with the highest numbers of cases also have large student populations.More research emerges about Covid-19 long haulersMonths into the pandemic that has infected more than 6 million Americans, the public and experts alike are learning the impacts of Covid-19 can drag on longer than expected, Madeline Holcombe writes. The CDC advises that most Americans who have tested positive for coronavirus can return to work or school 10 days after, but new research indicates the virus and its symptoms are far from over by that date. The study also suggests that about one in five negative tests are false negatives, meaning many are still spreading the virus after testing negative without knowing it. Even once patients do test negative, many patients are reporting that their symptoms — from aches to loss of smell to brain fog and affected mood — can last months longer.
ON OUR RADAR
Vehicles drive past a temporary memorial for Detroit victims of Covid-19
- The pandemic has reached crisis levels in government-controlled areas of Syria, with health workers and facilities overwhelmed by a surge of cases.
- A Detroit park has been transformed into a temporary memorial for more than 1,500 residents, with hundreds of large portraits of people who’ve died from the virus lining its roadways
- More than 25,000 coronavirus cases in 37 states were reported at US colleges and universities, illustrating the struggle of reopening schools as the virus surges on campuses.
- Hong Kong will relax some Covid-19 restrictions as the city’s locally transmitted cases start to drop, officials said Wednesday, months after it saw a peak of 149 cases in July.
- Havana residents will face a nightly curfew and will not be allowed to travel to other provinces for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit Cuba. This comes weeks after officials said the virus was all but defeated on the island.
- When the US and Canada mutually agreed to shut down their border to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in March, no one predicted it would be closed this long. There is still no specified date for its reopening.
Doctors are sounding the alarm about Covid-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories running rampant on social media. One such theory falsely links 5G networks to the spread of the virus, focussing on the radio frequencies that signals travel over. But experts point out that low-band and mid-band 5G networks operate at largely the same frequencies as existing networks. “There’s nothing different in terms of exposure,” said Kenneth Foster, professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, whose research focuses on the health and safety aspects of electromagnetic fields interacting with human bodies.Major advancements from 5G will come as a result of high-band networks, where signals travel over millimeter wave frequencies. But millimeter wave frequencies should prompt even less concern because they can’t penetrate surfaces such as walls, trees or human skin (that’s one of the reasons they don’t travel well).
“Well, I was wrong. If it’s not as bad as 1918 and I’m hoping that will be the case, it’ll be right up there in the top five pandemics in terms of number of cases and number of deaths worldwide.” — Dr. Howard Markel, a physician and historian of medicine.Around this time 102 years ago, the U.S. was in a similar position as it is today. CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to Dr. Howard Markel about what we can learn from when schools opened during the influenza pandemic of 1918. Listen Now.