President Trump is back in the Oval Office and is being briefed on stimulus talks and the hurricane, White House deputy communications director Brian Morgenstern told pool reporters.
Dr. Amy Cho, an ER doctor from Minneapolis, spoke out about the serious dangers of Covid-19 following President Trump's messages downplaying the impacts of the virus.
"I want people to have a bit of fear about this, because it's important. Fear helps you to be careful, it helps to motivate the actions and behaviors that help to reduce risk, and it will actually help to save lives," Cho told CNN's Brianna Keilar.
In Twitter thread that went viral, Cho emphasized the serious risks coronavirus poses and how even medical professionals are fearful of the pandemic.
"Please know that Covid-19 Please know that COVID-19 scares the doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers.
We are afraid.
Because we have witnessed what it can do if you or your loved ones get severe COVID. We know that money, power and fame can’t purchase a cure"
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of the infectious diseases division at Massachusetts General Hospital, says the White House and federal government are not following policies that people in infection control live by, as they try to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
Walensky noted that there are standard definitions and guidelines around quarantine, isolation and contact tracing.
“Some of those policies that we all live by in infection control as we’re trying to contain this pandemic have not, at least by appearance, been followed at the White House and in the federal government,” Walensky said during an Infectious Diseases Society of America webinar on Wednesday.
“Given the intermittent information that we’re getting, it’s very hard to understand a) whether people are being properly quarantined, b) whether people are being properly isolated and c) whether people are being properly contact traced,” she said about cases linked to the White House.
Aside from testing and contact-tracing efforts around well-known figures at the White House, there are other essential workers there who would likely need to be contacted and tested – and that’s a lesson for communities outside the White House, too.
“I really think it’s key that we make sure that all communities have access to contact tracing, treatments and vaccines,” she said.
Attorney General William Barr tested negative for Covid-19 on Wednesday, according to Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec.
Kupec said Barr, who tested negative for the sixth time, is at the Justice Department for meetings Wednesday afternoon.
The attorney general was among the guests at Trump's Rose Garden event late last month introducing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the US Supreme Court – an event which is now believed by many White House officials to be a nexus for contagion that led to the positive tests of at least seven attendees, including the President and first lady.
Barr was seen at the event without a mask, shaking hands and mingling with people in the crowd, including former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway who announced she had tested positive Friday. He also attended the private reception for Barrett afterward.
Sam Kass, former White House chef and adviser to first lady Michelle Obama, voiced his anger with the Trump administration’s handling of coronavirus as it relates to the White House residence staff.
In a four-minute Instagram video posted earlier Wednesday, Kass expressed his outrage following reports residence staff have been put in danger.
“We’re starting to actually learn that there’s been a big cover up in there. There’s been no transparency … and it’s putting real lives at risk,” Kass told CNN in an interview Wednesday afternoon.
After a report from the New York Times that two housekeeping staffers had tested positive and were asked to use discretion, Kass raised the possibility that other potential close contacts were not informed internally.
“There were gaps in communication where people had no idea what was going on, and a lack of communication,” he said.
In his opinion, both President Trump and first lady Melania Trump, who were both diagnosed with Covid-19 last week, should not be at the White House around residence staff “unequipped” to deal with infectious disease, and, rather, in the care of trained medical professionals.
Kass outlined the potential for cross-contamination – even though the East Wing instituted a mask policy early in the pandemic, the West Wing did not. And residence staff are frequently around West Wing staff, setting up and breaking down events in the East Room and Rose Garden, among others. He said the dueling mask policies showed the administration’s “incompetence and hypocrisy.”
“It means they knew they should be in masks. That’s the policy in their home. They knew people should be testing frequently, if not daily. They let the rest of their staff be exposed without any rules, and how dare they,” he said.
Many of the workspaces used by residence staff are extremely small and have a potential for spread, including the pastry shop, which Kass said is “like a walk-in closet,” and “tiny little offices underground” including the engineers’ room, the carpentry shop, and the electricians’ office.
Kass said he was “horrified” by images of the President walking into the residence from the Truman Balcony without a mask after he returned from the hospital.
“I just couldn’t imagine being so careless with the lives of these people who are there to serve and take care of you. It was so unrecognizable for everything I know to be true about that place, the spirit, the camaraderie, the care that people take for each other. I just couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said.
He said he felt compelled to speak out because residence staff, with a long history of discretion, would not speak for themselves.
“There’s a deep tradition in the residence of being credibly discreet and never speaking out, and I know they’re not going to,” he said. “The privacy of the first family, it’s tantamount. They would never violate that trust, even when their own lives are at risk.”
Regeneron, the company that makes the experimental treatment given to President Trump last week, told CNN their antibody treatment could have affected the blood test that shows Trump has antibodies to the coronavirus.
Earlier today the President’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, released a memo on the President’s health. In it, he said Trump had "detectable levels" of coronavirus antibodies as of Monday.
“Of note today, the President’s labs demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-Cov-2 IgG antibodies from labs drawn Monday, October 5th; initial IgG levels drawn late Thursday were undetectable,” the memo read.
Trump received a single infusion of Regeneron’s dual monoclonal antibody treatment on Friday. The company said the IgG antibody test would have detected the engineered antibodies that were administered to Trump.
Those antibodies – laboratory versions of immune system proteins designed to home in directly on specific parts of the coronavirus – would remain detectable in his system for several months.
In a statement to CNN, Regeneron said:
"Most of the standard assays for IgG would not distinguish between endogenous (self-made) antibodies and the ones delivered by our therapy. However, given the volume of IgG antibodies delivered in our therapy, and the timing of these tests, it is likely that the second test is detecting REGN-COV2 antibodies.
Our early data announced last week shows that the patients most likely to benefit from this treatment have a similar profile to President Trump, in that they had undetectable antibodies at baseline (‘seronegative’) and were early in the course of disease. Treatment with REGN-COV2 had the greatest impact in viral load reduction and time to symptom alleviation in this seronegative group. We also know by looking at the placebo groups that these seronegative patients were at a much higher risk of requiring further medical attention than ‘seropositive’ patients when untreated with therapeutic antibodies."
The President’s physician Dr. Sean Conley has released a new memorandum on the President’s status, claiming President Trump has been “symptom-free for over 24 hours.”
Trump, Conley wrote, “has not needed nor received any supplemental oxygen since initial hospitalization,” and has been “fever-free for more than 4 days.”
Trump’s labs, Conley said, “demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies from labs drawn Monday.”
Trump told him he feels “great!” Conley wrote, including an exclamation point.
Conley has not briefed reporters since Monday.
Read the memo:
Both Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence have tested negative for Covid-19 ahead of this evening’s debate, an administration official confirms.
The Commission on Presidential Debate is still planning for the second presidential debate, co-chair of Frank Fahrenkopf said Wednesday. However, it’s not without concern. Everything depends on the President’s health status and whether people around him, including the commission’s crew, will be safe, he told CNN.
“It’s going to depend on what the doctors say about his health, whether or not only will he be safe, but the people around him be safe,” he said. “We're concerned about our staff and workers here. We have a crew of about 65 people who work on these things. So it's going to depend on what the medical evidence is and what the advice we get whether or not it's safe to go forward.”
“We're going forward with our planning for both the second and final one in Nashville,” Fahrenkopf added. “We will make decisions and spend time after [the vice presidential debate] is in the can tonight as to what we're going to do for the next one, once we get that advice."
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Tuesday that the second presidential debate should not be held if President Donald Trump is still infected with coronavirus, but that he would base his participation in the debate upon recommendations from medical experts.