Monday CoronaBuzz, October 5, 2020, Part 1: What’s Up at the White House. 23 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Because of the current situation, a huge amount of the news is about the coronavirus outbreak in our federal government. Because of that I’m splitting this issue into two parts: What’s Up at the White House and then everything else. You should get the 2nd issue momentarily. Meanwhile: please wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you can. Please be careful. I love you.


New York Times: The Busy Week When the President Met the Virus. “It is not clear exactly when Mr. Trump was infected or by whom, and the White House remained secretive about the circumstances on Friday, declining to provide any account of who made the decision for the president to go to New Jersey or of how Ms. Hicks’s illness was handled on Wednesday and Thursday. But by day’s end, there was little doubt that the virus had been circulating in proximity to Mr. Trump for the past week, even as he disparaged mask wearing and campaigned in person in front of crowds that were not socially distanced.”

Daily Beast: Chris Wallace: Trump Arrived at Debate Too Late for COVID-19 Test. “President Donald Trump arrived too late in Cleveland on Tuesday to get a COVID-19 test ahead of the debate, according to Chris Wallace, the event’s moderator. Instead, the Fox News star revealed, there was an ‘honor system’ for the two campaigns to have arrived having already tested negative.”

Vanity Fair: “This Is Spiraling Out Of Control”: Allies Panic About Trump’s Hospital Stay As White House Deflects . “On Saturday, the West Wing plunged into damage-control mode after Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, told reporters that Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday—a day earlier than Trump previously disclosed. The new timeline meant that Trump would have been contagious when he debated Joe Biden on Tuesday and attended a fundraiser on Thursday at his Bedminster golf club. The White House released follow-up statements saying Conley misspoke, but they did little to quell the chaos.”

New York Times: Trump’s Symptoms Described as ‘Very Concerning’ Even as Doctors Offer Rosier Picture. “The White House offered a barrage of conflicting messages and contradictory accounts about President Trump’s health on Saturday as he remained hospitalized with the coronavirus for a second night and the outbreak spread to a wider swath of his aides and allies.”

CNN: Chris Christie checks into hospital as a precaution after positive Covid-19 test. “Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told CNN he checked himself into a hospital Saturday afternoon as a precautionary measure after announcing earlier in the day that he had tested positive for Covid-19. Christie, who suffers from asthma, said in consultation with his doctor he decided it was best to be monitored in the hospital. He said he has a slight fever and is achy but felt well enough to drive himself to the hospital, Christie told CNN by phone from the hospital on Saturday.”

New York Post: President Trump’s personal assistant tests positive for COVID-19: report. “Body man Nick Luna, who works very closely with the president, is the latest in Trump’s inner circle to contract the virus, Jennifer Jacobs, of Bloomberg News tweeted Saturday.”

Washington Post: Little evidence that White House has offered contact tracing, guidance to hundreds potentially exposed. “The crisis within a crisis is emblematic of an administration that has often mocked or ignored the coronavirus guidance of its own medical experts. In this case, the failure to move swiftly potentially jeopardized the health of their own supporters and those close to them, who might fall ill and unwittingly spread the infection to others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a contact tracing team ready to go, according to multiple sources, but had not been asked to mobilize, even though White House physician Sean Conley said at a press briefing that his team was working with the agency.”

New Yorker: Maggie Haberman on the Fallout from Trump’s Hospitalization. “Since early Friday morning, when the White House announced Trump’s diagnosis, Haberman’s byline has appeared on more than twenty stories. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed what we know about when Trump first tested positive, how the President has been trying to control the narrative around his illness, and the level of coronavirus denial among Republicans in Washington.”

Politico: How Mark Meadows Became the White House’s Unreliable Source. “Friends would describe him as a respectable player—calculating and slippery but decent to a fault. Enemies would liken him to a political sociopath, someone whose charm and affability conceal an unemotional capacity for deception. What both groups would agree upon is that Meadows, the 61-year-old White House chief of staff, is so consumed with his cloak-and-dagger, three-dimensional-chess approach to Washington that he can’t always be trusted. Which makes him precisely the wrong person to be at the center of an international crisis.”

STAT News: A one-page memo could defuse the panic about Trump’s Covid-19. Where is it?. “The information that could ease American minds, quash conspiracy theories, and slow a rapacious 24/7 news cycle around President Trump’s case of Covid-19 could fit in a few paragraphs that would not fill a single page, several doctors tell STAT. So why, they wonder, has none of that information been included in a 15-minute press briefing and three short memos released by the president’s physicians?”

Washington Post: White House gives confusing and incomplete answers about Trump’s health as president says he is ‘feeling well’. “The White House on Saturday created a startling amount of confusion on the status of President Trump’s health and precisely when he contracted covid-19 — issuing conflicting statements and injecting uncertainty into the nation’s understanding of the president’s well-being and whom he and his associates may have exposed to the novel coronavirus.”

STAT News: Trump is receiving dexamethasone, a steroid usually given to patients with severe Covid-19. “Dexamethasone is generally reserved for patients who have serious disease. The National Institutes of Health’s treatment guidelines for Covid-19 say dexamethasone should be used only in hospitalized patients who are on ventilators or who require supplemental oxygen, and specifically ‘recommends against using dexamethasone for the treatment of Covid-19 in patients who do not require supplemental oxygen.'”

New York Intelligencer: The White House Is Spreading Virus and Lies. “With President Trump hospitalized for COVID-19 at Walter Reed medical center, officials spent the weekend sowing doubt about his condition instead of offering clarity and reassurance. Doctors and members of the White House staff provided conflicting information about the timeline and progression of the president’s illness, making a bad situation even worse. Asked what it’s been like for insiders trying to get information about the president and the virus spreading through the government, a senior White House official told Intelligencer, ‘That’s easy. We don’t get any.'”

CNN: Advisers made last-minute push to get reluctant Trump to Walter Reed. “Aware of his hesitancy to appear seriously ill or convey the serious nature of his condition, Trump’s aides now appear to be scrambling to provide a portrait of a mildly ill commander-in-chief. But on Friday, medical officials were concerned about his vitals and thought it would be better to monitor his response with the vast resources that Walter Reed National Military Medical Center provided. Trump was told the facility was a more prudent place for him to be in case his condition deteriorated.”

New York Times: Use of Dexamethasone to Treat Trump Suggests Severe Covid-19, Experts Say. “President Trump’s doctors offered rosy assessments of his condition on Sunday, but the few medical details they disclosed — including his fluctuating oxygen levels and a decision to begin treatment with a steroid drug — suggested to many infectious disease experts that he is suffering a more severe case of Covid-19 than the physicians acknowledged.”

The Atlantic: Trump Didn’t Even Try to Keep His Own People Safe. “Trump’s indifference to the welfare of others extends to the circle of close advisers who surround him and the wider White House staff. As my colleague Peter Nicholas has reported, there have been practically no serious efforts at coronavirus control at the White House. Once Trump was diagnosed, aides were left confused and in the dark. According to reports from Axios and New York magazine, staffers had no information about the president’s condition and no instructions about what they should do for their own health.”

Washington Post: Infectious Trump briefly leaves hospital to greet fans as confusion continues over his health. “The White House continued to provide limited and contradictory information about President Trump’s health on Sunday, saying that he had begun a steroid treatment after twice suffering bouts of low oxygen but also contending that he was doing well and could soon be discharged from the hospital where he is being treated for the novel coronavirus. Adding to the confusion about his status, Trump briefly left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda to wave to supporters from a motorcade, after releasing a video on Twitter thanking people who had gathered outside the facility.”

Washington Post: Secret Service agents, doctors aghast at Trump’s drive outside hospital. “A growing number of Secret Service agents have been concerned about the president’s seeming indifference to the health risks they face when traveling with him in public, and a few reacted with outrage to the trip, asking how Trump’s desire to be seen outside his hospital suite justified the jeopardy to agents protecting him. Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis has already brought new scrutiny to his lax approach to social distancing, as public health officials scramble to trace those he may have exposed at large in-person events.”

Politico: President Pelosi? Pence prepares to risk it all for Trump. “After months of campaigning in smaller, lower-profile settings — from greeting voters at roadside diners to addressing blue-collar workers deep in the Rust Belt — Pence will step into the spotlight this week for a high-stakes debate against Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, a MAGA rally in Arizona and a brief stop in his home state of Indiana to cast an early ballot in the 2020 race.”

Washington Post: White House physician Sean Conley draws scrutiny for rosy assessments of Trump’s health. “…long before the president contracted a virus especially lethal to older people, some of Conley’s former colleagues said they were disappointed in what they view as his lack of independence from White House politics. ‘Every statement he is giving appears to be political, dictated by the White House or the president,’ said one person who has worked with him, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering the White House. ‘These are not the statements a medical doctor gives.'”

New York Times: At the White House, an Eerie Quiet and Frustration With the Chief of Staff. “The West Wing always clears out when the president is not in the building, usually because a large portion of the senior staff travel with him wherever he goes or on weekends. But over the past few days, it has been even quieter. A number of staff members are either sick themselves or quarantining after being in contact with Mr. Trump or colleagues who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some advisers, like Mr. Meadows and Dan Scavino, the deputy White House chief of staff for communications, have been at the hospital in order to remain in the president’s immediate orbit.”

Bloomberg: From Bereaved Parents to CEOs: Trump Encounters Spark Covid Fears. “All told, hundreds of people — some masked, many not — came into contact with Trump in the week leading up to his positive Covid test, according to interviews with witnesses and a review of White House schedules, news accounts and photographs. Most famously, the Rose Garden event to announce Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court nominee attracted 150 people — at least eight of whom have since tested positive for the illness. Between it and Friday, when Trump was helicoptered to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he headlined a string of risky events, many indoors, that have sent people scrambling to get tested.”

CNN: Trump campaign adviser says rally protocols won’t change after President’s coronavirus diagnosis. “A senior adviser to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign said Sunday there won’t be any additional safety protocols for upcoming rallies following the President’s hospitalization after contracting Covid-19.”

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