Stunning diagnosis: President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, and the president is described as having ”mild symptoms,” according to CNN. The news followed reports that one of Trump’s closest advisers, Hope Hicks, had tested positive. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, have tested negative, The Wall Street Journal reports. Trump has downplayed the virus and at times mocked people who wear masks. Although top health officials in his own administration have said wearing masks in public can save thousands of lives, the president has held crowded rallies with people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, few of them wearing masks. As Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman report for The New York Times, many senior White House officials do not wear masks around the President because of his ”disdain” for them. Even today, following news of Trump’s positive test, a group of White House staffers were not wearing masks but suddenly put them on when they saw reporters enter the room, according to CNN correspondent Jim Acosta. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for his Tuesday debate with Joe Biden, told CNN that ”no one was wearing masks in the room where we were prepping” the president. Trump announced by tweet around 1 a.m. today that he and the first lady had tested positive for Covid-19, and would begin quarantining immediately. Just hours before, he told an audience that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.” Several other national leaders have become infected by the virus, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
- Also: About 7.3 million people in the U.S. have tested positive, and more than 208,000 have died from Covid-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. Globally, there are more than 34.4 million confirmed cases and more than one million deaths.
Correcting the record: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has again stressed his support for wearing masks after the President misrepresented his views during the presidential debate on Tuesday. Trump claimed Fauci initially said ”masks are not good. Then he changed his mind.” When Democratic contender Joe Biden said mask wearing and social distancing could save thousands of lives, Trump retorted: ”Dr. Fauci said the opposite.” Fauci told ABC News that at the start of the pandemic, when there was a severe shortage of personal protective equipment and fears about people hoarding supplies that were desperately needed by hospital staff, he recommended not wearing masks. But as evidence grew that masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus, Fauci urged people to wear them. “So anybody who has been listening to me over the last several months know that a conversation does not go by where I do not strongly recommend that people wear masks,” Fauci said.
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Rough seas ahead: Axios reports that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield wanted to extend the “no-sail order” on cruise ships to February 2021, but that administration officials overruled him. Instead, the order is set to expire on October 31, coinciding with the end of the cruise industry’s self-imposed ban. Cruise ships saw some of the worst clusters of Covid-19 cases early in the pandemic, but Florida politicians, including Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, have pushed for allowing cruises to resume. The industry employs tens of thousands of workers in the state.
- Also: Florida has seen a spike in coronavirus cases just days after Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed bars and restaurants to begin operating at full capacity again, Madeline Holcombe and Theresa Waldrop report for CNN. There were 3,266 new cases reported Tuesday, up from 738 reported Monday—the highest one-day figure since September 19.
Pre-existing conditions: Writing for Kaiser Health News, Karen Pollitz, Jennifer Kates, and Josh Michaud consider the impact on Covid-19 patients if the Affordable Care Act is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court when it rules on California v. Texas, a lawsuit brought by Republican state officials and supported by President Trump. Depending on the age group, between 20 and 35 percent of symptomatic coronavirus patients still suffer symptoms after two or three weeks. Some patients, known as “long-haulers,” experience symptoms for weeks or months after contracting the virus. The long-term health effects of Covid-19 are not yet known, but early research suggests that it may include damage to the lungs, heart or immune system. If the Affordable Care Act were overturned, a patient with a history of Covid-19 infection could be denied coverage or charged higher rates, or the health insurer could refuse to cover expenses related to Covid-19.
Amazon workers: Amazon said in a blog post that nearly 20,000 workers for Amazon and Whole Foods have tested positive or are presumed to have been positive for coronavirus, Sara Ashley O’Brien reports for CNN. The limited info dump follows months of Amazon resisting sharing comprehensive data with the public and with its employees. To fill the gap, workers have crowdsourced reports of positive cases and deaths, of which there have been at least 10.
5.8 million acres: The wildfires burning in California, Oregon, and Washington have consumed more than 5.8 million acres, an area larger than the size of the state of New Jersey, Oliver Whang and Taylor Maggiacomo report for National Geographic. At least 36 people have died and hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Altogether, 68 large fires are burning in 11 Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The fires are also wreaking havoc on wildlife, Elizabeth Pennisi writes for Science Magazine. Biologists estimate the fires in Washington have killed 50 percent of the state’s endangered pygmy rabbits; perhaps only 50 of the nation’s smallest rabbit remain. They also estimate that fires have killed between 30 and 70 percent of the sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse populations in the state.
Forced labor: The U.S. Department of Labor has released a list of 17 goods made in China using forced labor by ethnic and Muslim minorities in violation of international standards. More than one million Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities have been detained in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in Western China. Between 100,000 and possibly hundreds of thousands of people from ethnic and religious minorities in China are believed to be working in conditions of forced labor following detention in Chinese Communist Party re-education camps. “Forced labor and abusive child labor are dehumanizing, ruining lives and families,” said Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Today’s list illustrates the disturbing role of China – the world’s second largest economy – in sponsoring these exploitative practices.” The broad category of items includes: artificial flowers, Christmas decorations, coal, fish, footwear, garments, gloves, hair products, nails, thread/yarn, tomato products, bricks, cotton, electronics, fireworks, textiles and toys.
FairWarning contributor Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.
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