• Sun. Nov 29th, 2020

Coronavirus updates: Trump accuses ‘deep state’ in FDA of slowing vaccine testing; park access linked to higher deaths for non-whites – USA TODAY


President Donald Trump’s claim that the Food and Drug Administration is trying to slow testing of COVID-19 vaccines until after the November presidential election drew a sharp rebuke from Democrats.

“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd.” 

Trump tagged FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, a Trump appointee, in the post. Hahn did not respond on Twitter and the FDA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, accused Trump of undermining public safety to help his reelection.

“The FDA must approve drugs or vaccines based on their safety and effectiveness – NOT political pressure from the White House,” Pelosi tweeted. “The President’s dangerous attempt to inject himself into the scientific decisions of @US_FDA jeopardizes the health & well-being of all Americans.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-New Jersey, urged the FDA to ignore “Trump’s dangerous ‘miracle’ cures,” claiming the president’s :”recklessness has killed people.”

Medical staff wearing personal protective equipment in Hong Kong on August 23, 2020.

Some significant developments this weekend:

  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he is prepared to shut the country down as president if that were recommended by scientists. “I would shut it down. I would listen to the scientists,” he told ABC News’ David Muir on Friday in an interview set to air Sunday.
  • The House of Representatives passed legislation Saturday to prevent any further changes at the United States Postal Service and to provide $25 billion in funding ahead of an expected surge in mail-in ballots in the November election, due to the ongoing pandemic. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has 5.6 million confirmed infections and more than 176,000 deaths. Worldwide, there have been more than 805,000 deaths and 23 million cases, according to John Hopkins University data.📰

What we’re reading: Delivering millions of vaccine doses will be a daunting task, and the federal government wants a system ready by Nov. 1. Freezer farms and UPS are part of the plan.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to the Daily Briefing.

Coca-Cola or ‘bottled poison’? Mexico finds a COVID-19 villain in big soda

As COVID-19 cases mount in Mexico and the death toll soars – Mexico only trails Brazil and the United States in total pandemic fatalities – President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have increasingly pinned Mexico’s pandemic problems on its poor nutrition habits. Soda consumption has been a focus. Mexicans drink more soda per-capita than any other country – an estimated 163 liters per year. And bottlers, such as Coca-Cola, deliver its products to the remote corners of the country where potable water is scant and soda is often sold for less than water.

Mexico’s beverage industry responded that Mexicans consume less than 6% of their daily calories from sugary drinks. The attacks, the industry said, “show the need to find a public enemy to hold responsible for the health crisis.”

David Agren

Access to parks linked to higher COVID-19 deaths for non-white groups

Among factors contributing to poorer health and more susceptibility to COVID-19 deaths among Black and Hispanic Americans is a significant difference with majority white populations in access to parks for outdoor recreation opportunities, according to a new study. The report by the nonprofit land-access advocacy group Trust for Public Land finds that parks serving primarily non-white populations nationwide are half the size of parks serving majority white populations, and are five times more crowded.

Experts say the lack of access to parks means people living in dense, urban areas have a harder time getting as much physical exercise as recommended and are missing out on equally important mental health wellness opportunities. Black and Hispanic Americans also tend to have higher rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease because they are less likely to go to the doctor or have health insurance, and their overall health is poorer due to systemic poverty.

— Trevor Hughes

Georgia becomes 10th state to top 5,000 virus deaths

Georgia on Saturday became the 10th state in the nation to report that it has surpassed 5,000 deaths caused by COVID-19. The Georgia Department of Public Health said there have been at least 5,092 deaths in the state caused by the coronavirus and more than 252,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who was among the first governors to ease earlier restrictions this spring, highlighted the downward trends this past week. He has used social media to remind residents to wear a mask, maintain social distancing and follow guidance from the health department.

Dozens of WWII veterans to gather in Hawaii amid pandemic

Several dozen aging U.S. veterans will gather on a battleship in Pearl Harbor next month to mark the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender, even if it means the vulnerable group may be risking their lives again amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 75th anniversary was meant to be a blockbuster event, and the veterans have been looking forward to it for years. There were to be thousands of people watching in Hawaii as parades marched through Waikiki, vintage planes flying overhead, and gala dinners to honor the veterans.

Now, most in-person celebrations have been canceled over fears the virus could infect the veterans, who range from 90 to 101. But about 200 people, mostly veterans, their families and government officials, will still commemorate the milestone on the USS Missouri, which hosted the surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.

New York blocks wedding with 175 expected guests 

A federal appeals court granted New York’s attempts to block weddings from having more than 50 people, allowing the court fight to continue. The ruling thwarted efforts by at least one couple to have a large wedding this weekend and leaves in doubt any other weddings that exceed more than 50 attendees. One couple planned on being married Saturday in Erie County with 175 people expected to attend, the court papers said.

The couple’s attorney, Anthony Rupp, told the Times Union the wedding will be moved to a later date. “We had won every stage of this thing, but the judge in the 2nd Circuit just cavalierly postponed it until Tuesday,” Rupp said. “So we’re very unhappy about this decision.”

– Joseph Spector, New York State Team

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY

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Contributing: The Associated Press