Microsoft Teams vs Zoom: We’re working on 49 on-screen video-callers too, says Microsoft – ZDNet

June 3rd, 2020

COVID-19: Drug targets enzymes that enable virus to invade cells – Medical News Today

June 3rd, 2020

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, enlists the help of two enzymes on the surface of human cells in order to invade them. A new study suggests that a compound that inhibits both enzymes could make a highly effective treatment.

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New research finds that a drug could keep the new coronavirus from entering healthy cells.

When disease-causing viruses break into their hosts’ cells, it is invariably an “inside job.” Viral pathogens can only invade cells and replicate with the assistance of the cells’ own molecular machinery.

SARS-CoV-2 is no exception. Before the new coronavirus can enter a human cell, enzymes called proteases on the cell’s surface must split open the protein spikes that give the virus its characteristic crown-like appearance.

This splitting changes the shape of the spikes, exposing the binding sites that allow the virus to gain entry to the cell.

The spikes of coronaviruses contain three “cleavage sites,” where particular proteases can split the proteins. A coronavirus can, therefore, only invade cells that bear the appropriate proteases.

The cleavage sites and their respective proteases help determine how pathogenic the virus is, which tissues it can infect, and whether it can jump from species to species.

Scientists at the University of California, Riverside’s School of Medicine and the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, in La Jolla, wanted to find out whether a compound that inhibits two particular proteases would protect cells from invasion by SARS-CoV-2.

Their findings have been published in the journal Molecules.

A previous study had suggested that one of the proteases, called furin, is used by some of the most pathogenic coronaviruses. It may be one factor that helps SARS-CoV-2 spread so easily.

Rather than working directly with SARS-CoV-2, the researchers used anthrax toxin as a model.

This is because furin not only helps viruses infect cells, it also activates anthrax toxin, allowing it to enter and kill cells.

Crucially, furin cleaves the same sequence of peptides — the units that form protein — in both the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and the anthrax toxin. This makes the toxin an ideal model.

First, the researchers checked whether their agent, called compound 1, could protect human cells in a dish from the toxin.

Once they confirmed this, they went on to investigate whether compound 1 would protect mice from the toxin.

They discovered that even a single dose of the compound significantly improved the animals’ survival.

Compound 1 inhibits both furin and another protease, called TMPRSS2.

In their paper, the scientists argue that further research is needed to develop compounds like theirs that inhibit both proteases, rather than just one. Alternatively, a cocktail of different protease inhibitors could also work, they argue.

The study authors cite two lines of evidence for their argument.

First, when scientists in the past have genetically engineered host cells so that they were unable to make furin, this has failed to stop the virus from infecting the cells.

Second, when the authors of the present study looked at the peptide sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, they found evidence that newly acquired mutations allow the virus to exploit both furin and TMPRSS2 cleavage sites.

These mutations have given the virus the ability to infect a wider variety of tissues in the body.

“In other words, SARS-CoV-2, unlike other, less pathogenic strains, can more efficiently use both proteases, TMPRSS2 and furin, to start the invasion of host cells,” says Maurizio Pellecchia, a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of California, Riverside, who led the research team.

“While TMPRSS2 is more abundant in the lungs, furin is expressed in other organs, perhaps explaining why SARS-CoV-2 is capable of invading and damaging multiple organs.”

A clinical trial of the TMPRSS2 inhibitor camostat in people with COVID-19 recently began.

However, research from the team in California suggests that camostat is a poor furin inhibitor. “Our current study, therefore, calls for the development of additional protease inhibitors or inhibitor cocktails that can simultaneously target both TMPRSS2 and furin and suppress SARS-CoV-2 from entering the host cell,” says Prof. Pellecchia.

He and colleagues are seeking funding to design and develop protease inhibitors that target both TMPRSS2 and furin.

In addition to treating SARS-CoV-2 infections, such agents could combat other highly pathogenic coronaviruses that may jump from other species into humans.

“The funding would allow us to explore new possibly effective therapeutics against COVID-19 and support studies that could have far-reaching applications — to ward off possible future pandemics,” says Prof Pellecchia.

The new research was a lab-based, preclinical study. Clinical trials would, therefore, be needed to test whether an agent such as compound 1 is safe and effective in people.

One shortcoming of protease inhibitors is that they work by disabling enzymes that the body needs for everyday functioning.

While protease inhibitors have proved highly effective in treatments for HIV, for example, they can cause severe side effects in some people.

Cells use furin, in particular, to activate a wide variety of important proteins.

For live updates on the latest developments regarding the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, click here.


Google is being sued for tracking users even when they’re browsing in incognito mode – Business Insider – Business Insider

June 3rd, 2020

Doubt looms over hydroxychloroquine study that halted global trials – Ars Technica

June 3rd, 2020
Closeup image of hands holding a small box labeled hydroxychloroquine.

The Lancet medical journal on Tuesday issued an “expression of concern” over the validity of a recent study suggesting that the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine raise the risk of death and heart complications in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

More than a hundred researchers have raised questions and skepticism about the data and analysis, even as researchers halted clinical trials in light of the study’s findings.

The two drugs at the center of the controversy have had a high profile during the pandemic, with many prominent figures—most notably President Donald Trump—promoting them as effective against COVID-19. On May 18, Trump even told reporters that he was taking the drugs himself to prevent infection from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

Despite the publicity, there’s little evidence to support the efficacy of chloroquine or its analogue, hydroxychloroquine, to prevent or treat COVID-19. Small studies done so far have only provided mixed and inconclusive results in COVID-19 patients. The two drugs are only approved for use against malaria and autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. They have also long been linked to risks of heart complications.

The limited evidence for use against COVID-19 and the known risks led the Food and Drug Administration to issue a safety warning that the drugs “should be limited to clinical trial settings or for treating certain hospitalized patients.”

In the Lancet study—which was published May 22 and reported by Ars—researchers aimed to provide some clarity of the drugs’ effects in COVID-19 patients. The researchers claimed to do so using the largest set of data to date, involving more than 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients from six continents. According to the authors, a thorough hashing of the data indicated that those taking either hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine had significantly higher risks of death and heart complications compared with COVID-19 patients who did not take either of the drugs.

The safety issues were concerning enough that on May 26, the World Health Organization announced that it was suspending the use of hydroxychloroquine in its global Solidarity Trial, which is evaluating several potential COVID-19 therapies. Regulators in the UK and France also changed their recommendations surrounding the drugs.

A closer look

Amid the global influence, outside researchers began closely examining the data behind the study—or at least tried to do so—and have been left concerned.

In an open letter sent to the study’s authors and The Lancet, outside experts outlined ten significant problems, ranging from inadequate statistics, data irregularities, and a lack of ethics review. The letter was signed by more than a hundred researchers.

At the heart of the problem is that the data used for the study was from a data analytics company called Surgisphere, based in Illinois. The company claims to have an enormous trove of data harvested from electronic medical records held by hundreds of hospitals around the globe. However, Surgisphere says it cannot share said data due to data use agreements it has with the hospitals.

This is problematic for critics, who are skeptical of the data the company claims to have and would very much like to see it themselves and confirm that the analysis is accurate. In the open letter, for instance, outside experts noted that:

Data from Africa indicate that nearly 25% of all COVID-19 cases and 40% of all deaths in the continent occurred in Surgisphere-associated hospitals which had sophisticated electronic patient data recording, and patient monitoring able to detect and record ‘nonsustained [at least 6 secs] or sustained ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.’ Both the numbers of cases and deaths, and the detailed data collection, seem unlikely.

In addition to a lack of transparency over the data, a report by The Scientist magazine also noted that Surgisphere’s founder, Dr. Sapan Desai, has a less than pristine past. The magazine noted that Desai, who trained in vascular surgery and founded the company in 2008, resigned from a hospital position shortly after three medical malpractice suits were filed against him in 2019.

Further, before Desai and Surgisphere focused on data analytics, their most public-facing activity was selling medical textbooks. According to The Scientist, the textbooks had fake 5-star reviews on Amazon from accounts impersonating actual physicians. One of the impersonated physicians, a breast surgical oncologist, told the magazine that she and colleagues eventually got Amazon to remove the reviews.

For several years, Desai also published a medical journal called the Journal of Surgical Radiology, which abruptly shuttered in 2013 despite its website claiming to have accrued 50,000 subscribers in short order.

Ongoing concerns

In response to criticism and skepticism over the COVID-19 data, Surgisphere issued a statement saying, in part, that it will submit to an independent audit of its data. On May 30, some of the minor data irregularities—including a mislabeled hospital—were corrected in The Lancet.

Surgisphere wrote in its statement that it is:

[V]itally important that our scientific colleagues around the world understand the validity of our database, particularly regarding data acquisition, warehousing, analytics, and related reporting processes. We are committed to demonstrating the high standards we hold at Surgisphere, and the robustness of the work that has been completed.

Nevertheless, on Tuesday, The Lancet issued an expression of concern over the study, saying that “although an independent audit of the provenance and validity of the data has been commissioned by the authors not affiliated with Surgisphere and is ongoing, with results expected very shortly, we are issuing an Expression of Concern to alert readers to the fact that serious scientific questions have been brought to our attention. We will update this notice as soon as we have further information.”

Two other COVID-19-related studies involving Surgisphere data have also been called into question. The New England Journal of Medicine issued its own expression of concern on a Surgisphere-associated study. The research looked at the effect of preexisting use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) in COVID-19 patients. Researchers have also questioned a pre-print study (one that has not yet been published or peer reviewed) looking at the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin for COVID-19.


The C.D.C. Waited ‘Its Entire Existence for This Moment.’ What Went Wrong? – The New York Times

June 3rd, 2020

WASHINGTON — Americans returning from China landed at U.S. airports by the thousands in early February, potential carriers of a deadly virus who had been diverted to a handful of cities for screening by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Their arrival prompted a frantic scramble by local and state officials to press the travelers to self-quarantine, and to monitor whether anyone fell ill. It was one of the earliest tests of whether the public health system in the United States could contain the contagion.

But the effort was frustrated as the C.D.C.’s decades-old notification system delivered information collected at the airports that was riddled with duplicative records, bad phone numbers and incomplete addresses. For weeks, officials tried to track passengers using lists sent by the C.D.C., scouring information about each flight in separate spreadsheets.

“It was insane,” said Dr. Sharon Balter, a director at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. When the system went offline in mid-February, briefly halting the flow of passenger data, local officials listened in disbelief on a conference call as the C.D.C. responded to the possibility that infected travelers might slip away.

“Just let them go,” two of the health officials recall being told.

The flawed effort was an early revelation for some health departments, whose confidence in the C.D.C. was shaken as it confronted the most urgent public health emergency in its 74-year history — a pathogen that has penetrated much of the nation, killing more than 100,000 people.

The C.D.C., long considered the world’s premier health agency, made early testing mistakes that contributed to a cascade of problems that persist today as the country tries to reopen. It failed to provide timely counts of infections and deaths, hindered by aging technology and a fractured public health reporting system. And it hesitated in absorbing the lessons of other countries, including the perils of silent carriers spreading the infection.

The agency struggled to calibrate its own imperative to be cautious and the need to move fast as the coronavirus ravaged the country, according to a review of thousands of emails and interviews with more than 100 state and federal officials, public health experts, C.D.C. employees and medical workers. In communicating to the public, its leadership was barely visible, its stream of guidance was often slow and its messages were sometimes confusing, sowing mistrust.

“They let us down,” said Dr. Stephane Otmezguine, an anesthesiologist who treated coronavirus patients in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Richard Whitley, the top health official in Nevada, wrote to the C.D.C. director about a communication “breakdown” between the states and the agency. Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois lashed out at the agency over testing, saying that the government’s response would “go down in history as a profound failure.”

ImageA letter sent by Nevada’s top health official to the C.D.C. director, expressing concern about communication.
A letter sent by Nevada’s top health official to the C.D.C. director, expressing concern about communication.Credit…no credit

“The C.D.C. is no longer the reliable go-to place,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Even as the virus tested the C.D.C.’s capacity to respond, the agency and its director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, faced unprecedented challenges from President Trump, who repeatedly wished away the pandemic. His efforts to seize the spotlight from the public health agency reflected the broader patterns of his erratic presidency: public condemnations on Twitter, a tendency to dismiss findings from scientists, inconsistent policy or decision-making and a suspicion that the “deep state” inside the government is working to force him out of office.

Mr. Trump and his top aides have grown increasingly bitter about perceived leaks from the C.D.C. they say were designed to embarrass the president and to build support for decisions that ignore broader concerns about the country’s vast social and economic dislocation. At the same time, some at the C.D.C. have bristled at what they see as pressure to bend evidence-based recommendations to help Mr. Trump’s political standing.

Located in Atlanta, the C.D.C. is encharged with protecting the nation against public health threats — from anthrax to obesity — and serving as the unassailable source of information about fighting them. Given its record and resources, the agency might have become the undisputed leader in the global fight against the virus.

Instead, the C.D.C. made missteps that undermined America’s response.

“Here is an agency that has been waiting its entire existence for this moment,” said Dr. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration who for years worked closely with the C.D.C. “And then they flub it. It is very sad. That is what they were set up to do.”

The agency’s allies say it is just one part of a vast network of state and local health departments, hospitals, government agencies and suppliers that were collectively unprepared for the speed, scope and ferocity of the pandemic. They also point out that lawmakers have long failed to adequately prioritize funding for the kind of crisis the country now faces.

Dr. Amy Ray, an infectious disease specialist in Cleveland, said the C.D.C. did not “get enough credit,” adding, “They are learning at the same time the world is learning, by watching how this disease manifests.”

The agency, which declined repeated requests for interviews with its top officials, said in a statement: “C.D.C. is at the table as part of the larger U.S. government response, providing the best, most current data and scientific understanding we have.”

“It’s important to remember that this is a global emergency — and it’s impacting the entire U.S.,” the agency said. “That means it requires an all-of-government response.”

President Trump made a visit in March to the C.D.C. in Atlanta, speaking with the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, right.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

In early March, Dr. Redfield led Mr. Trump on a V.I.P. tour of the high-tech labs at the C.D.C.’s Atlanta headquarters, standing off to the side as the president spoke.

Wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap, Mr. Trump falsely asserted that “anybody that wants a test can get a test,” claimed he had a “natural ability” for science and noted that he might keep holding campaign rallies even as the virus spread.

“Thank you for your decisive leadership in helping us, you know, put public health first,” Dr. Redfield told the president as they posed for the cameras.

The moment underscored the challenge for the director and his agency. To combat the virus, he would have to manage the mercurial demands of the president who appointed him and the expectations of the career scientists he leads.

The sensibilities could not be more different. At one point that month, White House officials asked the agency to provide feedback on possible logos — including “Make America Healthy Again” — for cloth face masks they hoped to distribute to millions of Americans. The plan fell through, but not before C.D.C. leaders agreed to the request, according to one person familiar with the discussions.

White House aides saw Dr. Redfield, 68, as an ally, but as the coronavirus crisis intensified, his meandering manner in television appearances and congressional hearings irritated a president drawn to big personalities and assertive defenders of his administration.

A former military virologist who specialized in H.I.V., Dr. Redfield was Mr. Trump’s second choice after his first C.D.C. director resigned. He had no experience leading a government agency — though he had been considered for jobs in previous Republican administrations — and often told associates that he was happiest treating patients in Africa or Haiti.

Dr. Robert C. Gallo, who founded the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine with Dr. Redfield in 1996, said he had warned him against taking the C.D.C. post, describing it as “massive public health, lots of politics, lots of pressure.”

Dr. Redfield was a virologist focusd on H.I.V. before taking the top job at the C.D.C.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

While praising his friend as “a terrific, dedicated infectious disease doctor,” Dr. Gallo, who also co-founded the Global Virus Network, said in an interview that Dr. Redfield “can’t do anything communication-wise.” He added, “He’s reticent, never wanting the front of anything — maybe it’s extreme humility.”

The C.D.C., established in the 1940s to control malaria in the South, has the feel of an academic institution. There, experts work “at the speed of science — you take time doing it,” said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

The agency, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services with 11,000 employees, cannot make policy, but it guides federal and state public health systems and advises government leaders.

The C.D.C.’s most fabled experts are the disease detectives of its Epidemic Intelligence Service, rapid responders who investigate outbreaks. But more broadly, according to current and former employees and others who worked closely with the agency, the C.D.C. is risk-averse, perfectionist and ill suited to improvising in a quickly evolving crisis — particularly one that shuts down the country and paralyzes the economy.

“It’s not our culture to intervene,” said Dr. George Schmid, who worked at the agency off and on for nearly four decades. He described it as increasingly bureaucratic, weighed down by “indescribable, burdensome hierarchy.”

The exacting culture shaped its scientists’ ambitions; it also locked some into a fixed way of thinking, former officials said. And it helped produce the C.D.C.’s most consequential failure in the crisis: its inability early on to provide state laboratories around the country with an effective diagnostic test.

The C.D.C. quickly developed a successful test in January designed to be highly precise, but it was more complicated to use and turned out to be no better than versions produced overseas. And in manufacturing test kits to send to the states, the C.D.C. contaminated many of them through sloppy lab practices. That, along with the administration’s failure to quickly ramp up commercial and academic labs, delayed the rollout of tests and limited their availability for months.

In late January, the agency sent epidemiologists to Seattle to help local health officials learn whether what was then the country’s first known patient — a 35-year-old man who had visited Wuhan, China — had infected others.

A drive-through testing center in Virginia in March. Delayed testing hindered the U.S.’s ability to curb the pandemic.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

After an initial round of tests, the agency imposed restrictive testing standards. When doctors in Washington State and elsewhere forwarded the names of about 650 people in January who might have been infected — they had contact with a confirmed patient, had been admitted to a hospital or had other risk factors — the C.D.C. agreed to test only 256. That group consisted primarily of people traveling from Wuhan and their contacts.

In part because of capacity issues, the agency typically did not recommend testing people without symptoms — even though Chinese doctors were reporting that people could spread the virus without ever feeling ill. Dr. Redfield mentioned the possibility of asymptomatic spread in a CNN interview in February, but the C.D.C. did not emphasize such transmission until late March.

In mid-February, C.D.C. officials announced plans for a national surveillance effort — by testing samples from people with flulike symptoms — to determine whether the virus was spreading undetected. The effort was to begin in Seattle, New York and three other cities, but after disagreements over how to proceed, it did not start.

Later that month, public health officials across the country were increasingly concerned about visitors streaming into the United States from South Korea, Japan, Italy and other European countries engulfed by the virus.

On phone calls with the C.D.C., worried state officials kept asking: “Are there plans to expand the travel monitoring?” The response, according to a participant from New York, was always the same: “We’re still actively considering that.”

Mr. Trump announced a European travel ban on March 11, a few days after meeting with Dr. Redfield and others. But it was too late. Genomic tracing would later show that European travelers had brought the virus into New York as early as mid-February; it multiplied there and elsewhere in the country. In Seattle, a strain from China had struck nursing homes in late February.

Health workers with a nursing home patient in Seattle during the outbreak there in February.Credit…Grant Hindsley for The New York Times

If we were able to test early, we would have recognized earlier” the scale of the outbreak, said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, the chief health officer in King County, Wash. “We would have been able to put prevention measures in place earlier and had fewer cases.”

Part of the C.D.C.’s start-up troubles, current and former employees said, was that the group in charge of the response initially — the Division of Viral Diseases — is smaller and has far less staff focused on contagious respiratory diseases than the C.D.C.’s Influenza Division, which eventually took more a leading role. “They were very quickly overwhelmed by what they had to do,” said Dr. Pierre Rollin, a virologist who left last year.

Now, more than 3,000 C.D.C. employees are aiding the coronavirus response, analyzing data, performing lab work and deploying to cities where local health departments need help. While other federal agencies are also involved — including the F.D.A., which has speeded the use of antibody tests; the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has worked to get ventilators and other supplies; and the National Institutes of Health, which has studied vaccines and possible treatments — the C.D.C. is the reigning expert.

Even before the current crisis, Dr. Redfield had kept a low profile. Some days he could be spotted in a corner of the cafeteria, sipping coffee alone.

Although he is on the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Redfield found himself eclipsed by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s most famous infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Deborah Birx, an AIDS expert and former C.D.C. physician.

Meanwhile, his bonds with some of his own staff have frayed. One associate recounted him saying that the agency’s scientists had a “myopic” view of their roles, and characterized his relationship with his top deputy, Dr. Anne Schuchat, a career C.D.C. scientist deeply respected in the agency, as growing strained.

He has not been in Atlanta recently, shuttling instead between his home in Baltimore and the West Wing. One person familiar with his thinking described Dr. Redfield as feeling “a little bit on an island.”

The C.D.C. still has many defenders who say it has done the best it could battling a stealthy, previously unknown virus. “When they do release something, it does what C.D.C. ought to do — retain the voice of credibility,” said Dr. James A. Town, medical director of the intensive care unit at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. “Even if it’s coming at a slower pace, which can be frustrating, I think they’re pretty thoughtful and trying to make even-keeled investigations.”

Dr. Redfield declined to comment for this article. But in a recent interview with The Hill, he said, “I would say C.D.C. has never been stronger.”

In a briefing last week, he acknowledged that the nation must work to improve its systems to track disease outbreaks, though he disputed that the agency was somehow unable to detect when the coronavirus started to spread in the United States. “We were never really blind to the introduction of this virus,” he said.

The C.D.C.’s headquarters, removed from Washington in Atlanta, has the feel of an academic institution.Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times

Inside Building 21, the C.D.C.’s gleaming 12-story headquarters, nothing has been more critical than getting fast, accurate information on how the virus is spreading, who is getting sick, how best to treat them and how quickly the country can reopen.

But that has proved difficult for the agency’s antiquated data systems, many of which rely on information assembled by or shared with local health officials through phone calls, faxes and thousands of spreadsheets attached to emails. The data is not integrated, comprehensive or robust enough, with some exceptions, to depend on in real time.

The C.D.C. could not produce accurate counts of how many people were being tested, compile complete demographic information on confirmed cases or even keep timely tallies of deaths. Backups on at least some of these systems are made on recordable DVDs, a technology that was state-of-the-art in the late 1990s.

The result is an agency that had blind spots at just the wrong moment, limited in its ability to gather and process information about the pathogen or share it with those who needed it most: front-line medical workers, government health officials and policymakers.

“That specific, granular data has huge implications,” said Julie Fischer, a professor of microbiology at Georgetown University who studies community preparedness for emerging diseases. “We lost precious time in decision-making and putting public health resources to use.”

When C.D.C. officials urged states to track travelers from China in February for possible infection, the agency turned to a computer network called Epi-X. It sent emails to state officials, one at a time, for each arriving flight so they could download a list of targeted passengers.

In California, state health officers received as many as 146 notification emails a day, forcing them to spend time forwarding them to the appropriate local health departments. In some cases, the information, collected for the C.D.C. by the Department of Homeland Security, listed incorrect dates or times; in other cases, passenger data was sent to the wrong state or came more than a week after the travelers had entered the United States.

“We got crappy data,” said Fran Phillips, Maryland’s deputy health secretary. “We would call them up and people would say, ‘Well, I was in China, but that was three years ago.’”

On Feb. 11, Mr. Whitley, Nevada’s top health official, complained to Dr. Redfield in a letter about “the breakdown” in “communication the states have received from the C.D.C.” The agency had said three travelers from China could “go along with their normal day-to-day business” — advice that conflicted with the C.D.C.’s message to monitor such passengers and make sure they were in self-quarantine.

One week later, the C.D.C.’s Epi-X system stopped sending notices entirely, even though flights kept coming. The agency had temporarily shut the system down to “improve data quality,” it told state officials in an email.

The travel-monitoring program screened at least 268,000 passengers through mid-April. A C.D.C. report cited 14 Covid cases that were traced back to those passengers, but lapses and errors in the data made that tally far from conclusive. The agency went on to say that the program did not stop the disease from being introduced to California, where incomplete information, high travel volume and the possibility of asymptomatic spread made it ineffective.

Once coronavirus cases started developing in earnest in the United States in March, federal and state officials began demanding information to make key decisions. Among them: where to move ventilators from the national stockpile and where to build temporary hospitals.

State and local officials were quickly overwhelmed trying to document hospitals’ needs. Staff at the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, for example, called each of the 94 county hospitals in the early weeks of the outbreak, asking nurses how many coronavirus patients were in intensive care units and how many were on ventilators.

The C.D.C. tried to repurpose one of its data systems to collect the information directly from hospitals, but it had significant gaps. Finally, the Department of Health and Human Services in April also enlisted a private contractor, TeleTracking Technologies, only to have hospitals struggle to log on to the system.

Hospital executives resorted to finding aid themselves. Scott Malaney, head of Blanchard Valley Health System in Ohio, got a phone call from an official at a Michigan health care system that was running short on beds and equipment. It was asking neighboring facilities to share supplies or take in overflow patients if necessary.

“She said they were looking up the phone book up and down Highway 75 to see if there were other places that could help,” Mr. Malaney recalled.

The disconnects in the public health record-keeping system delayed sharing critical data that could help patients, said Dr. Thomas Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Hospitals look to the C.D.C. for that information. “Is it higher risk to be a healthy person at age 75 with coronavirus or a diabetic with the disease at age 45?” Dr. Inglesby said. “We should have the data to know the answer to this question quickly, and we should be using it to make better decisions.”

Health workers in Brooklyn transferred deceased patients to a refrigerated truck in April as the virus battered hospitals.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

As the number of suspected cases — and deaths — mounted, the C.D.C. struggled to record them accurately. The agency rushed to hire extra workers to process incoming emails from hospitals. Still, many officials turned to Johns Hopkins University, which became the primary source for up-to-date counts. Even the White House cited its numbers instead of the C.D.C.’s lagging tallies.

Some staff members were mortified when a Seattle teenager managed to compile coronavirus data faster than the agency itself, creating a website that attracted millions of daily visitors. “If a high schooler can do it, someone at C.D.C. should be able to do it,” said one longtime employee.

For years, federal and state governments have not invested enough money to insure that the nation’s public health system would have critical data needed to respond in a pandemic. Since 2010, for example, grants to help hospitals and states prepare for emergencies have declined.

In 2019, more than 100 public health groups pressed congressional leaders to allocate $1 billion over a decade to upgrade the infrastructure. The C.D.C. received $50 million toward the effort this year. Then, as coronavirus cases and deaths mounted in March, the federal government committed to $500 million under the emergency CARES Act.

“The crisis has highlighted the need to continue efforts to modernize the public health data systems that C.D.C. and states rely on,” Dr. Redfield told a Senate committee on May 12. “Timely and accurate data are essential as C.D.C. and the nation work to understand the impact of Covid-19 on all Americans.”

Projected deaths at a presentation by the White House task force in March.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Data is one of the essential tools of public health; Mr. Trump, though, often appears to see it as a weapon against him. He has suggested that testing is “overrated” and that it makes the United States look bad by increasing the number of confirmed cases. He has seized on lower-end projections of the virus’s toll, only to see them eclipsed as the cases and deaths rose.

Recently, the C.D.C. drew criticism after media reports disclosed that in tracking how many Americans had been tested, the agency had breached standard practice by combining data from antibody tests, which can indicate past infections, with diagnostic tests. The agency said it was caused by confusion in overworked state and local health officials reporting results, but the mistake muddied the picture of the pandemic.

“The scientists at the C.D.C. are still great,” Dr. Jha said. “It’s very puzzling to all of us why C.D.C. performance has been so poor.”

Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump at a White House briefing in March advocating “15 days to slow the spread.”Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Late in the evening on March 15, the C.D.C. put a bold statement on its website: All gatherings of more than 50 people should be canceled, the agency said, effectively calling for an end to large public events.

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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 2, 2020

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      More than 40 million people — the equivalent of 1 in 4 U.S. workers — have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

Inside the West Wing, the president’s top aides were stunned. Meeting in the Situation Room, the coronavirus task force was just putting the finishing touches on its own guidance. It limited gatherings to no more than 10 people — a fact that C.D.C. officials, including Dr. Redfield, knew from participating in days of debate on the issue.

Reporters soon were peppering the White House with questions about whether it was overruling the C.D.C. Some of Mr. Trump’s aides shrugged it off as a miscommunication. But others viewed it as the C.D.C. insisting it knew best.

The episode underscored the strained relationship between the health agency and the White House. Veteran officials at the C.D.C. were not unfamiliar with the ways of Washington. But they had never dealt with a president like Mr. Trump or a White House like his.

Already under siege for problems with the agency’s diagnostic test, C.D.C. officials watched with growing alarm as Mr. Trump, facing criticism for his administration’s response, repeatedly undermined the agency.

Though the task force was occasionally ahead of the C.D.C. in its cautions to the public, Mr. Trump and his aides often expressed extraordinary skepticism about the coronavirus and the steps required to combat it. He said the virus would disappear “like a miracle” even as C.D.C. scientists described it as a real threat. When the C.D.C. urged Americans to wear masks, he said, “I don’t see it for myself.”

And when Dr. Redfield told The Washington Post that a second wave of the virus could be “even more difficult” than the first, Mr. Trump insisted that he publicly claim to have been misquoted during a White House briefing. Dr. Redfield, with the president standing next to him, scowling, said he had been misunderstood.

At one point, Mr. Trump even complained about the agency to his 80 million Twitter followers, saying, “For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it.”

“There comes a time,” said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, who served as C.D.C. director in the Clinton and Bush administrations, “when it makes it very hard to operate effectively, when things are being suggested, requested, ordered that you think are contrary to the containment of the pandemic.”

The president and his aides viewed the civil servants at the C.D.C. — many of whom had worked under presidents from both parties — as disloyal liberals eager to wound Mr. Trump politically by leaking to the press. In private, some senior administration officials began referring to agency scientists as members of the “deep state,” according to several people who participated in the conversations but requested anonymity to discuss the meetings.

As the crisis deepened, tensions between Washington and Atlanta increased.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, a leader in the C.D.C.’s fight against the virus, was sidelined after issuing a stark warning.Credit…Amanda Voisard/Reuters

In late February, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, who oversees the C.D.C.’s respiratory diseases center and had been leading the agency’s emergency response, was sidelined after she issued a stark public warning that the virus would disrupt American lives. The comments sent stocks tumbling and infuriated Mr. Trump, who had not been told in advance. Public health officials, inside and outside the agency, saw her forced retreat as an effort to silence the truth.

Often, the clashes have centered on the economic consequences of shutdowns, which have forced 40 million people into unemployment, companies into bankruptcy and fueled resentment across the country.

In early April, the C.D.C. posted an extension of its “no sail” order for cruise ships, forbidding them from operating through August and warning that the ban could become indefinite. The White House had supported the original order, but privately objected to an indefinite ban, fearing lasting harm to an industry that employs tens of thousands of people.

The posting quickly came down, replaced by an order ending the ban in July. “Those things aren’t helpful,” Dr. Redfield would tell his colleagues when disputes between the C.D.C. and the task force erupted.

The White House was soon put on the defensive when USA Today cited internal emails about the pressure. “Sorry to do this, but the Office of the Vice President has instructed us to pull the No Sail Order Extension from the website immediately,” the paper quoted a C.D.C. official as writing to agency colleagues.

The Grand Princess, a cruise ship that docked in San Francisco after the virus sickened passengers and crew members.Credit…John G Mabanglo/EPA, via Shutterstock

To the president’s aides, one of the most frustrating moments came on May 1, when Dr. Schuchat published one of the agency’s regular reports on morbidity and mortality without giving the White House any notice, according to two of Mr. Trump’s advisers.

Written in dry, scientific language, the report offered a blunt assessment of the virus’s spread, showing how travel from Europe and mass gatherings had accelerated it. Dr. Schuchat went further when interviewed for an Associated Press article — “Health Official Says U.S. Missed Some Chances to Slow Virus” — saying that “taking action earlier could have delayed further amplification.”

As the president pushed governors to “liberate” their states from virus lockdowns, top C.D.C. officials in April delivered a draft of new guidance full of caveats about lifting the restrictions. In it, the agency urged schools, churches, child care centers, day camps, restaurants and bars to take numerous precautions and move slowly.

Trump aides were furious when they saw the draft. To them, it was more evidence that the C.D.C. refused to consider political, economic and social effects in weighing how and when to reopen the country. The agency’s recommendations for houses of worship, particularly annoyed some aides, who resisted the advice that churches stop giving communion.

When the White House sat on the draft guidance for weeks, a copy was leaked.

While the C.D.C. delayed posting the draft guidance that would allow churches to reopen, Mr. Trump all but ordered it to do so. During a visit to Michigan on May 21, the president — who the next day would explain, “In America, we need more prayer, not less” — made it clear the C.D.C. no longer had any choice.

“I said, ‘You better put it out,’” Mr. Trump told reporters. “And they’re doing it.”

Lawrence Gostin, the director of a legal center at the World Health Organization, and a former C.D.C. official, chided the White House for exerting undue pressure on the C.D.C. throughout the crisis.

“Public health is politics. But this is different,” he said. “It’s criticizing its public health agencies in public. It’s rejecting guidelines it puts out. It tells them you can’t even put guidelines out.”

“I would expect the C.D.C. to coordinate with the White House,” he added. “But this is not team work. This is not coordination. This is confrontation.”

Visitors to the board walk of Coney Island in Brooklyn found many businesses closed over Memorial Day weekend, including the neighborhood’s amusement parks. Credit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

As the battle against the coronavirus stretches into summer and the United States lurches toward restarting its economy, the mayor of Miami Beach wants to know what to do if Covid-19 cases explode after the city’s famous beaches open again.

Doctors and nurses remain desperate for updates on how to protect themselves. School superintendents and college presidents need to decide how to hold classes in the fall. And employers want advice about whether to test all of their workers before returning to business as usual.

The C.D.C. is where they expect to get answers. As the national clearinghouse for critical public health information, it has dual missions: to provide medical guidance to health workers while offering easy-to-understand information for political leaders, business executives and the general public.

But many say the agency has struggled at times to provide clear and timely guidance.

At Margaret Mary Community Hospital in rural Batesville, Ind., doctors and nurses got sick after following C.D.C. guidance in mid-March that masks were necessary only when treating patients with respiratory symptoms or fever. The first patients who tested positive for Covid-19 there instead showed up with headaches, fatigue, nausea and diarrhea.

“This virus made it halfway around the world without us having a heads-up to our providers that this is how the disease can present,” said Tim Putnam, the hospital’s chief executive. “Over two months after the disease surfaced, I would have expected better.”

Front-line doctors and nurses have long relied on the agency for advice on clinical best practices, and many said in interviews that they were satisfied with the C.D.C.’s advisories, especially given the novelty of the coronavirus.

The agency has issued 114 advisory documents for disaster and homeless shelters, retirement communities, taxis, pediatric clinics and other venues. “We have issued countless guidance and recommendations based on the best available science and data,” an agency press officer said. Its experts have also held about a dozen calls for clinicians about caring for Covid patients, and other calls for medical groups.

But in interviews with medical practitioners across the country, many said they now look elsewhere for detailed recommendations about how to safely care for infected patients, posing questions about the new virus on mailing lists or scouring online research articles.

In a crisis, one of the C.D.C.’s main roles is to explain its guidance and reasoning, provide a rationale for when its thinking changes and acknowledge what it does not know. The agency’s routine in past emergencies was to hold press briefings almost daily; Dr. Thomas Frieden, Dr. Redfield’s predecessor, was highly visible during the Ebola and Zika crises. But in this case, medical workers and the public were left to make sense of often-opaque postings on the C.D.C.’s website after ​its leadership stopped holding regular briefings on March 9.

“Right now, they only have the PDFs that are out there, without any kind of a conversation,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins. “That is a real shortcoming.”

Medical specialty and public health organizations have sometimes taken it on themselves to identify and highlight updates for their members.

“It would be awesome if C.D.C. could actually announce significant changes rather than bury it on their website and assume it is done,” Jim Collins, Michigan’s director of communicable diseases, complained to his colleagues in an email on Jan. 31.

A Michigan health official complained about unclear changes in C.D.C. guidance.Credit…

The C.D.C., some medical workers complain, has provided limited guidance on how children transmit the virus, when to ventilate patients and how to prioritize use of isolation rooms. And it took until April 27 for the agency to expand its list of possible symptoms to include more than a dozen signs of illness that some medical specialty societies had reported weeks earlier.

To many anxious doctors and nurses, some of the C.D.C.’s clinical guidance often seemed driven by the nationwide shortages of personal protective equipment, not the best interests of health care workers.

Initially, the C.D.C. recommended that all doctors and nurses coming in contact with coronavirus patients wear N95 respirators, which filter out 95 percent of all airborne particles. But on March 10, with supplies dwindling, the C.D.C. announced that less protective surgical masks were “an acceptable alternative” except during procedures that might aerosolize the virus. Days later, the agency said health workers could even wear “homemade masks (e.g., bandanna, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort.”

“Mistrust crept in,” said Lori Freeman, chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. “‘Are we really being protected?’”

The relaxed guidance on protective equipment matched advice from the World Health Organization on surgical masks. But the C.D.C. did not highlight that fact in its update and gave no public explanation other than acknowledging the worsening shortages. An analysis published this week suggests that N95 and other respirator masks are superior to surgical or cloth masks in protecting medical workers against the virus.

Leaders of schools, businesses and other organizations also said they were confused by the C.D.C.’s advice, which sometimes conflicted with that of the White House coronavirus task force.

In one such instance on March 16, the White House urged limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people and “schooling from home whenever possible” for at least the next 15 days. But days earlier, the C.D.C. had recommended that schools close only if someone in the building tested positive or there was evidence of “substantial community transmission.”

On March 17, nearly 2,500 superintendents from around the country were hoping to get some clarity during an online seminar with the C.D.C. Why was the C.D.C. recommending most schools could remain open?

But just 40 minutes before the seminar was to start, the C.D.C. canceled it without explanation and never rescheduled. The agency later told reporters it had decided “to fully adapt to the new guidance from White House” before addressing the superintendents.

In Miami Beach, densely packed with tourists, older residents and service workers, Mayor Dan Gelber dreads the prospect of new outbreaks. While he appreciated the reopening guidance that the C.D.C. published recently, Mr. Gelber, a Democrat, said he wished the agency would also lay out specific steps to follow if cases surge again.

Workers at the International Taphouse in St. Louis last month after the city began a partial reopening of businesses.Credit…Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

“It’s almost as if they just said, ‘Open up and figure out whether it’s a good idea or not afterward,’” he said of the C.D.C. “We don’t have a net here.”

Noah Weiland contributed reporting.


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American streets calmest in days, protests largely peaceful – CTV News

June 3rd, 2020

WASHINGTON — Protests were largely peaceful and the nation’s streets were calmer than they have been in days since the killing of George Floyd set off demonstrations that at times brought violence and destruction along with pleas to stop police brutality and injustice against African Americans.

There were scattered reports of looting in New York City overnight, and as of Wednesday morning there had been over 9,000 arrests nationwide since the unrest began following Floyd’s death May 25 in Minneapolis. But there was a marked quiet compared with the unrest of the past few nights, which included fires and shootings in some cities.

The calmer night came as many cities intensified their curfews, with authorities in New York and Washington ordering people off streets while it was still daylight.

A block away from the White House, thousands of demonstrators massed following a crackdown a day earlier when officers on foot and horseback aggressively drove peaceful protesters away from Lafayette Park, clearing the way for President Donald Trump to do a photo op at nearby St. John’s Church. Tuesday’s protesters faced law enforcement personnel who stood behind a black chain-link fence that was put up overnight to block access to the park.

“Last night pushed me way over the edge,” said Jessica DeMaio, 40, of Washington, who attended a Floyd protest Tuesday for the first time. “Being here is better than being at home feeling helpless.”

Pastors at the church prayed with demonstrators and handed out water bottles. The crowd remained in place after the city’s 7 p.m. curfew passed, defying warnings that the response from law enforcement could be even more forceful. But the crowd Tuesday was peaceful, even polite. At one point, the crowd booed when a protester climbed a light post and took down a street sign. A chant went up: “Peaceful protest!”

Pope Francis on Wednesday called for national reconciliation and peace.

Francis said that he has `’witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest” in the United States in recent days.

“My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,” the pope said during his weekly Wednesday audience, held in the presence of bishops due to coronavirus restrictions on gatherings.

Trump, meanwhile, amplified his hard-line calls from Monday, when he threatened to send in the military to restore order if governors didn’t do it.

“NYC, CALL UP THE NATIONAL GUARD,” he tweeted. “The lowlifes and losers are ripping you apart. Act fast!”

Thousands of people remained in the streets of New York City Tuesday night, undeterred by an 8 p.m. curfew, though most streets were clear by early Wednesday other than police who were patrolling some areas. Midtown Manhattan was pocked with battered storefronts after Monday’s protests.

Protests also passed across the U.S., including in Los Angeles, Miami, St. Paul, Minnesota, Columbia, South Carolina and Houston, where the police chief talked to peaceful demonstrators, vowing reforms.

“God as my witness, change is coming,” Art Acevedo said. “And we’re going to do it the right way.”

More than 20,000 National Guard members have been called up in 29 states to deal with the violence. New York is not among them, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he does not want the Guard. On Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo called what happened in the city “a disgrace.”

“The NYPD and the mayor did not do their job last night,” Cuomo said at a briefing in Albany.

He said the mayor underestimated the problem, and the nation’s largest police force was not deployed in sufficient numbers, though the city had said it doubled the usual police presence.

Tuesday marked the eighth straight night of the protests, which began after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while the handcuffed black man called out that he couldn’t breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with murder.

The mother of George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, said she wanted the world to know that her little girl lost a good father.

“I want everybody to know that this is what those officers took,” Roxie Washington said during a Minneapolis news conference with her young daughter at her side. “I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good.”

Some protesters framed the burgeoning movement as a necessity after a string of killings by police.

“It feels like it’s just been an endless cascade of hashtags of black people dying, and it feels like nothing’s really being done by our political leaders to actually enact real change,” said Christine Ohenzuwa, 19, who attended a peaceful protest at the Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul. “There’s always going to be a breaking point. I think right now, we’re seeing the breaking point around the country.”

“I live in this state. It’s really painful to see what’s going on, but it’s also really important to understand that it’s connected to a system of racial violence,” she said.

Meanwhile, governors and mayors, Republicans and Democrats alike, rejected Trump’s threat to send in the military, with some saying troops would be unnecessary and others questioning whether the government has such authority and warning that such a step would be dangerous.

A senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the president is not rushing to send in the military and that his goal was to pressure governors to deploy more National Guard members.

Such use of the military would mark a stunning federal intervention rarely seen in modern American history.

Amid the protests, nine states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries that tested the nation’s ability to run elections while balancing a pandemic and sweeping social unrest. Joe Biden won hundreds more delegates and was on the cusp of formally securing the Democratic presidential nomination.

Also Tuesday, Minnesota opened an investigation into whether the Minneapolis Police Department has a pattern of discrimination against minorities.


Sullivan reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press journalists across the U.S. contributed to this report.

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Graphic designers share illustrations in support of Black Lives Matter – Dezeen

June 3rd, 2020

Graphic designers are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and current protests, sharing illustrations and links to resources that people can use to help others and educate themselves. We’ve rounded up just a few of the many artworks created to spread the message.

Worldwide, people are joining marches in solidarity with protestors in America condemning the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other black men and women who have died at the hands of police officers in the US.

Floyd was killed by officers in Minneapolis on Monday 25 May. Just one of the four men involved in the incident – Derek Chauvin – has been charged with third-degree murder, while the others have been fired.

As protests continue, illustrators and artists have used their talents to create visual reminders of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as using their platforms to spread information on how to help.

This includes publicising various charities and funds that people can donate to, petitions they can sign, as well as other resources like books and articles that non-people of colour (POC) can use to educate themselves on the issues.

“Illustrators hold a responsibility not only to be aware of the lack of diversity within mainstream media but also to strive to create representational multicultural artworks that create positive change,” said artist Harriet Lee-Merrion.

Here are 17 artists using their work to support the Black Lives Matter movement:

Mona Chalabi

British data journalist and writer Mona Chalabi has created a series of illustrations outlining the statistics of POC killed by police officers in the US.

Chalabi has also used her work to encourage people to support black-owned businesses, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sacrée Frangine

Creative duo Sacrée Frangine, composed of Célia Amroune and Aline Kpade, has designed a series of collage-like illustrations of figures with the words “black lives matter”, “black children matter” and “black futures matter” written across their faces in place of features.

Courtney Ahn

This image by Korean-American illustrator Courtney Ahn has been widely circulated across Instagram, alongside a post titled A Guide to White Privilege that the artist published earlier this year in February.

Sharing her thoughts on white privilege and systemic racism, Ahn’s post reads: “White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard, it means your skin tone isn’t one of the things making it harder.”

Her post also includes examples of how people can use their white privilege to help, including listening to and amplifying the voices of POC, as well as confronting racial injustices.

Reyna Noriega

Black Latin American artist and author Reyna Noriega used her art to show two different sides of the same scene in her duo of illustrations posted to Instagram in support of racial equality.

“The world is bleeding,” reads her caption. “We have a gaping hole that can’t be filled with anymore bandaids. We need to confront this issue head on.”

Brandy Chieco

North Carolina-based illustrator Brandy Chieco created an artwork titled Enough is Enough to support the protests against racial inequality.

Chieco has made prints of the artwork as well as t-shirts and stickers featuring it available to purchase, with all proceeds going to the Black Lives Matter organisation.

“White and white-passing people: If you want to help but you’re not sure how, start by educating yourself. Knowledge is power,” reads the artist’s Instagram post.

Laura Breiling

Floyd and Taylor take centre stage in Berlin-based illustrator Laura Breiling’s works, which she created in support of the Minneapolis protests.

The drawings depict the two victims individually against backdrops of plants and flowers, alongside the hashtags #sayhisname and #sayhername.

Quentin Monge

Paris-based graphic designer Quentin Monge created an illustration of two figures, one white and one black, embracing one another, alongside a caption stating that “there will never be enough” Black Lives Matter posts.

Petra Eriksson

Swedish illustrator Petra Eriksson posted a silhouette of a side profile set against a stark red background on her Instagram page to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

“This is just another image in the hope that more people will be seen and heard,” the caption reads. “Hope that we will learn to treat each other better, be better allies and support each other towards a more equal and just world.”

Ashley Lukashevsky

Ashley Lukashevsky created an image of a roaring fire with a raised fist icon coming out as smoke to show her “solidarity with Minneapolis protestors and those defending Black lives everywhere.”

“The racist, classist, colonialist institutions are burning,” the caption reads. “Let them burn so that we can rebuild a world where black lives are celebrated, where black joy can thrive, where we all untie ourselves from the heavy armors of white supremacy. In the ashes we will find liberation.”

Harriet Lee-Merrion

British artist Harriet Lee-Merrion used her work to address how racial inequality is reflected in the creative industry.

In addition to creating an illustration of a black man with symbols of peace printed across his hair, she linked to a blog post she has written about the importance of illustrators in depicting underrepresented minorities.

Matt Blease

Liverpool-born illustrator Matt Blease kept it simple with his sketchy graphic, which depicts a raised fist being held up in the air by a group of five people.

Worry Lines

This Belgium-based illustrator, who goes by the name Worry Lines, also used their characteristically simple drawing technique to depict the different ways that people can “show up” for the Black Lives Matter movement.

This includes joining the protests, making donations, sharing the message both on and off of social media, and learning more about the issues.

Reuben Dangoor

British artist Reuben Dangoor drew handcuffs around the fingers of a hand making a peace sign as a comment on the nature of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter riots, which are seeing many protestors being arrested.

The words “no justice no peace” are printed in capitals against the background – a popular rallying cry used during protests.

Chloe Bennett

Australian designer Chloe Bennett, who goes by the Instagram name YeahYeahChloe, offered another visual reminder to her Instagram followers to support the Black Lives Matter movement, by depicting limbs of all skin tones wrapped around lettering that spells out “no justice no peace” in capitals.

Sarah Wasko

Brooklyn-based illustrator Sarah Wasko used her work to bring light to black trans people who have been murdered as a result of police violence.

Her drawing depicts transgender woman Nina Pop, who was found stabbed to death in her Missouri apartment on 3 May 2020, and Tony McDade, a transgender man who was shot and killed by police in Florida on 27 May 2020.

Aurélia Durand

Paris-based illustrator Aurélia Durand used her typically vibrant style to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The artist also recently illustrated the book titled This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 lessons on how to wake up, take action, and do the work, by Tiffany Jewell.

Kristen Barnhart

Kristen Barnhart, who is based in Texas, shared an illustration of a floating figure surrounded by stars and a speech bubble saying “Do Something!”

In her caption, Barnhart linked to accounts of figures she has found useful as sources for learning about racial inequality, including Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Akilah and Ericka Hart.


Dr. Anthony Fauci says there’s a chance coronavirus vaccine may not provide immunity for very long – CNBC

June 3rd, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaking during the U.S. Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on May 12th, 2020.


White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said he worries about the “durability” of a potential coronavirus vaccine, saying there’s a chance it may not provide long-term immunity.

If Covid-19 acts like other coronaviruses, “it likely isn’t going to be a long duration of immunity,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview Tuesday evening with JAMA Editor Howard Bauchner.

“When you look at the history of coronaviruses, the common coronaviruses that cause the common cold, the reports in the literature are that the durability of immunity that’s protective ranges from three to six months to almost always less than a year,” he said. “That’s not a lot of durability and protection.”

The National Institutes of Health has been fast-tracking work with biotech firm Moderna on a potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19, which has infected more than 6.28 million people worldwide and killed at least 375,987, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Fauci said Tuesday that the biotech company expects to enroll about 30,000 individuals when it begins a phase 3 trial in July. He said there are at least four trials for potential vaccines that he is either directly or indirectly involved in.

Fauci said that by the beginning of 2021 “we hope to have” hundreds of millions of doses.

When asked whether scientists will be able to find an effective vaccine, Fauci said he’s “cautiously optimistic,” adding that “there’s never a guarantee.” He cautioned “it could take months and months and months to get an answer” before scientists discover whether the vaccine works. 

U.S. officials and scientists are hopeful a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 will be ready in the first half of 2021 — 12 to 18 months since Chinese scientists first identified the coronavirus and mapped its genetic sequence.

It’s a record-breaking time frame for a process that normally takes about a decade for an effective and safe vaccine. The fastest-ever vaccine development, mumps, took more than four years and was licensed in 1967.

However, scientists still don’t fully understand key aspects of the virus, including how immune systems respond once a person is exposed. The answers, they say, may have large implications for vaccine development, including how quickly it can be deployed to the public.

Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said in congressional testimony last month that he is hopeful scientists would find a workable candidate but warned of potential pitfalls in developing any vaccine. 

“You can have everything you think that’s in place and you don’t induce the kind of immune response that turns out to be protective and durably protective,” Fauci said of a vaccine. “So one of the big unknowns is, will it be effective? Given the way the body responds to viruses of this type, I’m cautiously optimistic that we will with one of the candidates get an efficacy signal.”

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