Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.
Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP ramps up attacks on Democrats over talk of nixing filibuster MLB owner: It’s ‘very necessary’ to vote for Trump Delta: Early departures saved flight attendants’ jobs MORE said prospects of a COVID-19 relief bill before the election are slim, the NIH director was not thrilled with the lack of masks at last night’s Trump rally, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciTrump defends claim coronavirus will disappear, citing ‘herd mentality’ Schumer calls for Azar to resign over ‘chaos’ in coronavirus response Trump says he read ‘boring’ Woodward book ‘very quickly’ MORE says we’re not really on the home stretch of the pandemic, and Trump is taking heat for suggesting he didn’t want to panic the country.
We’ll start with the (lack of) COVID-19 relief:
McConnell: Chance for coronavirus deal ‘doesn’t look that good right now’
The coronavirus pandemic continues unabated throughout the country, but Congress is no closer to agreeing to a new relief bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday cast doubt on the ability of Congress to get a deal on a fifth coronavirus relief package after a failed vote in the Senate and a weeks-long stalemate between Democrats and the White House.
“We have been in a challenging period. … Regretfully, I can’t tell you today we’re going to get there. … I wish I could tell you we were going to get another package but it doesn’t look that good right now,” McConnell said during an event in Kentucky.
State of play: McConnell’s comments come after Democrats blocked a GOP coronavirus relief bill in the Senate on Thursday. Congressional Democrats are pushing for a sweeping bill to address the health and economic fallout from the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 192,000 people in the United States. But talks between Democratic leadership, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley: TikTok, Oracle seek Trump’s approval as clock winds down | Hackers arrested for allegedly defacing U.S. websites after death of Iranian general | 400K people register to vote on Snapchat TikTok, Oracle seek Trump’s approval as clock ticks down Dems discussing government funding bill into February MORE and White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsCNBC’s Cramer calls Pelosi ‘crazy Nancy’ in live interview Pelosi digs in as pressure builds for COVID-19 deal Pelosi defends not speaking to Trump for almost a year MORE have gone nowhere since early August.
Failed gamble? Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for Azar to resign over ‘chaos’ in coronavirus response CNBC’s Cramer calls Pelosi ‘crazy Nancy’ in live interview Schumer calls for Azar to resign over ‘chaos’ in coronavirus response MORE (N.Y.) predicted on Thursday that blocking the GOP bill could force Republicans to come back to the negotiating table and agree to a larger deal that includes Democratic priorities. But Republicans argue that Democrats, specifically Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi seeks to put pressure on GOP in COVID-19 relief battle On The Money: Pelosi says House will stay in session until stimulus deal is reached | GOP short of votes on Trump’s controversial Fed pick | WTO rules Trump tariffs on Chinese goods illegal Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into allegations of medical neglect at Georgia ICE facility MORE (Calif.), will need to make concessions for the talks to resume including dropping the demand for a multi trillion-dollar bill.
Read more here.
Fauci disagrees with Trump that US rounding ‘final turn’ on pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, no matter how sick of it people are and no matter how rosy a picture the president tries to paint.
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, said he disagrees with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn’t think he could’ve done more to stop virus spread Conservative activist Lauren Witzke wins GOP Senate primary in Delaware Trump defends claim coronavirus will disappear, citing ‘herd mentality’ MORE that the country has rounded “the final turn” on the COVID-19 pandemic, and warned Americans not to get complacent heading into the fall.
Trump on Thursday said the U.S. was “rounding the final turn. And we’re going to have vaccines very soon, maybe much sooner than you think.”
Fauci said he disagrees.
“I have to disagree with that, because if you look at … the statistics, they are disturbing. We’re plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day. And the deaths are around a thousand,” Fauci told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
Fauci said he hopes there is not a post-Labor Day surge of cases like there was following Memorial Day and July 4th, because the country’s infection rate is already too high.
Fauci also weighed in on the lack of masks at Trump’s outdoor rally in Michigan on Thursday evening:
“If you’re outdoors and you’re crowded together and you don’t have a mask, the chances of respiratory transmission of a virus clearly are there,” Fauci said. “Just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean you’re protected, particularly if you’re in a crowd and you’re not wearing masks.”
Read more here.
More from Fauci: Return to pre-coronavirus normality will be ‘well into 2021’
Speaking of the Trump rally…
NIH director ‘disheartened’ by lack of masks at Trump rally
NIH Director Francis Collins is not a fan of President Trump holding rallied with largely maskless crowds.
“As a scientist, I’m pretty puzzled and rather disheartened,” Collins said on CNN after being shown images of Trump’s rally filled with maskless supporters.
“It just deeply puzzles me, Sanjay. How did we get here?” Collins asked CNN’s Sanjay Gupta.
Anthony Fauci, the head of the NIH’s infectious diseases branch, also recently called out Trump’s maskless rallies, replying “yes it is” when asked on CBS on Wednesday if they were “frustrating.”
On Tuesday, Trump held a similar rally in North Carolina, where many in the crowd did not wear masks, despite a state mask mandate. Trump quipped then that the gathering was a “peaceful protest” to allow it to get around limits on the size of gatherings.
Read more here.
Science editor says Trump ‘flat-out lied’ about COVID-19, demoralizing scientific community
Not something you see every day in the journal Science: a very sharply-worded editorial about President Trump.
“As he was playing down the virus to the public, Trump was not confused or inadequately briefed: He flat-out lied, repeatedly, about science to the American people,” wrote the editor, H. Holden Thorp. “These lies demoralized the scientific community and cost countless lives in the United States.”
Trump told Woodward in March: “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Thorp wrote Friday that “playing it down meant lying about the fact that he knew the country was in grave danger.”
Read more here.
Trump draws fire for saying he downplayed virus to avoid ‘panic’
President Trump has an explanation for the new revelations that he purposely downplayed the risks of coronavirus: He says he didn’t want to cause panic.
Experts say Trump had another option: He could have calmly, but accurately, explained to Americans the risks associated with the outbreak and what they could do to lessen the danger.
Excerpts released this week from famed journalist Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, “Rage,” have raised questions about whether more lives could have been saved if Trump had, early in the pandemic, shared with Americans all the information about coronavirus he himself had.
But public health experts say there was a middle ground between inaccurately downplaying the virus and causing panic, that Trump could have taken: accurately presenting information on the risks of the virus, while telling people what the government is doing to fight the threat and what people can do themselves.
Read more here.
What we’re reading:
Kids are missing critical windows for lead testing due to pandemic (Kaiser Health News)
Up is down: Trump lies that Biden would ‘destroy’ Obamacare’s protections for pre-existing conditions (CNN)
U.S. hospitals turn down remdesivir, limit use to sickest COVID-19 patients (Reuters)
Centene to add Obamacare plans in 400 new counties, citing Covid (Bloomberg)
State by state:
In worst-hit Covid state, New York’s Cuomo called all the shots (Wall Street Journal)
California may begin wider screening with quick coronavirus tests (Associated Press)
Ernst privately apologized for COVID comments, declines public apology (Iowa Starting Line)