Welcome to Monday’s Overnight Health Care.
The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is putting even more eyes on the ObamaCare case that will be heard on Nov. 10 and raising new doubts about the law’s prospects. But in the meantime, there was plenty of coronavirus news today, and we’ll start there.
CDC pulls revised guidance on coronavirus from website
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday abruptly reversed itself and deleted from its website a new guidance that said the coronavirus can spread through respiratory droplets and “aerosol” particles.
The agency said the guidance was a draft that had been posted in error, and its recommendations are still being updated.
The CDC guidance on the coronavirus is now the same as it was before the revisions.
The change and the reversal comes as the CDC faces extensive scrutiny over whether decisions by and guidance from government scientists are being affected by politics.
Public health experts were pleased with the updated guidance, as evidence has shown COVID-19 can be transmitted beyond the recommended six feet of physical distancing. The updated language suggested that proper indoor ventilation could help mitigate the spread of the virus.
The World Health Organization issued a warning in July, saying that coronavirus could be spread through people talking, singing and shouting after hundreds of scientists released a letter urging it to do so.
Reasons unclear: We don’t know for sure if CDC reverted back to the original guidance because of political pressure. The update could just as easily have been a mistake. But that’s a problem. Some Democrats were quick to point to the possibility of a coverup.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a statement Monday evening called the removal “the latest example of a deeply broken Trump Administration response that sows confusion, fans the virus’s spread and costs Americans’ lives.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted: “The CDC just published scientifically valid information and then pulled it off their website and this is very likely a scandal.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) pointed to the bigger problem.
Read more here.
Government watchdog finds supply shortages are harming US coronavirus response
Shortages of supplies and equipment are harming the U.S.’s COVID-19 response almost six months into the pandemic, a government watchdog said in a report issued Monday.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that states are still facing shortages of protective equipment and testing supplies because of high global demand and the limited production of those items within the U.S, despite “numerous, significant efforts” taken by the federal government.
“Testing supply shortages have contributed to delays in turnaround times for testing results,” the report reads.
“Delays in processing test results have multiple serious consequences, including delays in isolating those who test positive and tracing their contacts in a timely manner, which can in turn exacerbate outbreaks by allowing the virus to spread undetected.”
Why it matters: The Trump administration has largely deferred the COVID-19 response to the states, but it tries to mitigate supply chain shortages and sends shipments of masks, tests and other gear to help with the response.
But state officials also told the GAO they are having trouble getting answers from the federal government on supply requests, which makes it more difficult to plan for the future.
Read more here.
As virus pummels US, Europe sees its own spike
Europe, which for a while was doing much better than the United States, is now seeing some major new outbreaks.
What it means: Easing up on restrictions too forcefully can lead to new spikes, both in the US and overseas.
Israel, which was earlier seen as a success story, is now imposing a new three-week lockdown as it tries to halt a surge in cases.
France and Spain, which had flattened their initial outbreaks with strict lockdowns early this year, are experiencing new spikes after reopening, and both countries now have more new cases per day than the U.S., when adjusted for population, according to data compiled by Our World in Data.
Reminder, though: The US is faring badly, and has the most cases per capita of any major developed country.
The U.S. is averaging about 40,000 new cases and 850 new deaths every day, among the worst numbers in the world. After declining for weeks, cases across the United States are now starting to tick back up.
Read more here.
Biden hammers Trump over coronavirus response: ‘The virus was too big for him’
Joe Biden on Monday tore into President Trump over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the president “panicked” in the face of an outbreak that has so far claimed nearly 200,000 lives in the U.S. alone.
Speaking at a campaign stop in Manitowoc, Wis., the former vice president mourned the climbing death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, blaming Trump for publicly downplaying the threat posed by pandemic despite privately acknowledging the dangers of the virus.
“We hear him privately saying this is a deadly virus. Far more deadly than any flu. But that’s not what he was saying to us publicly,” Biden said. “Publicly he told us it was just like the flu, and it would disappear in the warm weather, just like a miracle. It was all a lie. He knew it. What’s his explanation? He said he didn’t want to see the American people panic. He didn’t want to panic them.”
“Trump panicked,” he added. “The virus was too big for him.”
Biden’s remarks came as the U.S. nears the grim milestone in its struggle with the coronavirus pandemic; nearly 200,000 people have died in the U.S. since the outbreak began.
Read more here.
What we’re reading:
A notorious COVID troll actually works for Dr. Fauci (The Daily Beast)
Black doctors’ group creates panel to vet COVID-19 vaccines (STAT)
Medicare wouldn’t cover costs of administering coronavirus vaccine approved under emergency use authorization (The Wall Street Journal)
Tennessee’s Medicaid block grant proposal delayed by coronavirus (The Tennesseean)
Vermont to reboot all-payer model in response to warning from feds (vtdigger.org)
California surpasses 15,000 coronavirus deaths, just behind Texas (LA Times)
Op-eds in The Hill
Coronavirus lockdowns work
House Democrats should play hardball on coronavirus relief