“He’s back”: President Trump returned to the White House last night after being hospitalized for Covid-19 on Friday, Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey report for The Washington Post. According to his medical team, Trump’s oxygen levels dropped twice on Friday and Saturday, and he suffered from symptoms including a cough, a fever and fatigue. The president is being treated with dexamethasone, a steroid normally reserved for severely ill coronavirus patients, and remdesivir, an antiviral that has been approved for emergency use for those with severe Covid-19 symptoms. “Though he may not be entirely out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations — and most importantly, his clinical status — support the president’s safe return home,” Trump’s doctor Sean Conley said in a press conference, later adding, “He’s back.”
“Utterly irresponsible”: President Trump has seized upon his own illness to downplay the severity of the virus. “Don’t be afraid of Covid,” he tweeted Monday. “Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!” As The New York Times reports, his comments were met with outrage from health experts and relatives and friends of people who died from coronavirus. “I am struggling for words — this is crazy,” Harald Schmidt, an assistant professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Times. “It is just utterly irresponsible.” Shane Peoples, whose parents, Darlene and Johnny Peoples, died of the coronavirus on the same day in September, asked “Is he actually trying to put more lives at risk? He needs to be held accountable for the deaths that could have been prevented if he never downplayed it.”
- Also: As of this morning, more than 7.4 million people have tested positive for coronavirus in the U.S., and more than 210,000 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. Globally, more than 35.5 million people have tested positive and more than 1 million have died.
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Tracking the spread: More than a dozen people who have had contact with the president or attended a White House or Trump campaign event in the last week have tested positive for coronavirus, including: his adviser Hope Hicks, his assistant Nicholas Luna, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, campaign manager Bill Stepien, Kellyanne Conway, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, among others. Although at least eight people who attended a ceremony in the Rose Garden to honor President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, have tested positive, the White House is not tracing the contacts of guests and staff who may have been exposed to the virus, Apoorva Mandavilli and Tracey Tully report for The New York Times.
- Also: President Trump first received a positive result from a rapid Covid test administered last Thursday, but never disclosed the result and still made an appearance on Fox News that evening, Michael C. Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus report for The Wall Street Journal. As the virus spread among his circle, Trump told an adviser not to disclose the adviser’s own positive test, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Even those closest to him and his campaign didn’t learn about some cases, such as Hope Hicks’, until hearing about it on the news.
Out for a spin: Secret Service agents and public health experts expressed outrage after President Trump left the hospital Sunday for a drive in an airtight car because he was bored, advisers told The Washington Post. Campaign and White House officials explained he wanted to show strength after his chief of staff gave a grim assessment of his health to reporters, but the drive put Secret Service agents traveling in the vehicle with him at risk of contracting the virus. “He’s not even pretending to care now,” one agent told The Post. “Where are the adults?” asked a former Secret Service member. “I got into a secure vehicle to say thank you to the many fans and supporters who were standing outside of the hospital for many hours, and even days, to pay their respect to their President,” Trump wrote on Twitter, responding to the criticism. “If I didn’t do it, Media would say RUDE!!!”
Up in the air: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its coronavirus information page to say that tiny particles that linger in the air can spread the virus—just a few weeks after the health agency posted and then abruptly removed new language that acknowledged that very thing, Caitlin McCabe and Betsy McKay report for The Wall Street Journal. “CDC continues to believe, based on current science, that people are more likely to become infected the longer and closer they are to a person with Covid-19,” the agency said in a press release. “Today’s update acknowledges the existence of some published reports showing limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area.”
Scorched earth: The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that the wildfires this year have burned “well over” 4 million acres, more than double the previous record since the department began keeping track in 1987, Tim Stelloh reports for NBC News. More than 30 people have died in the California fires. The largest blaze in the state’s history, the more than one-million acre August Complex fire in Northern California, is just 51 percent contained even though it started in mid-August.
- Also: Highly destructive wildfires can befoul municipal water systems with dangerous chemicals that linger for years after the blaze, Max Horberry reports for The New York Times. After fires in recent years in the California town of Paradise and the wine country counties of Napa and Sonoma, officials found elevated levels of toxic chemicals like benzene, which can cause nausea and vomiting, and possibly cancer if there is long-term exposure.
All Greece to us: Leaked documents from Exxon Mobile show that the oil company expects to increase annual carbon emissions by 17 percent by 2025, Kevin Crowley and Akshat Rathi report for Bloomberg, the equivalent of the entire nation of Greece’s annual emissions. The largest U.S. oil producer has never committed to lower oil and gas output, or publicly disclosed its forecasts for its own emissions. The estimates are only for Exxon’s direct emissions; if emissions from customers using their fuel were taken into account, the estimates would likely be five times larger.
End of the Amazon: Much of the Amazon rainforest is likely to become a grassland savannah, and it could happen sooner than previously thought, researchers warn in a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications. As much as 40% of the existing Amazon rainforest could transform from tropical rainforest to savannah, according to the researchers. Although the full transformation could take decades, Fiona Harvey writes in The Guardian, the process is hard to reverse.
Hungry in America: About 10 percent of American adults reported in August that they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat within the past week, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, Laura Reiley writes for The Washington Post. That’s 22.3 million adults, 4.3 million more than said the same before March 13, indicating a sharp increase in food insecurity since the pandemic hit. What’s more, food banks don’t have enough to feed them. Feeding America, a network of more than 200 food banks across the nation, projects a 6 billion to 8 billion meal shortfall over the next 12 months. Other natural disasters are compounding the crisis: “Many food banks are still experiencing lags because of Hurricane Laura or the California wildfires, which requires us to procure even more food to get resources to those particularly strained areas,” Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of Feeding America, told The Post.
FairWarning contributor Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.
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