SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 103 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, continuing a steady spread as people increasingly venture out in the public amid eased social distancing measures.
The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday brought the national caseload to 26,146, including 461 deaths.
Donald Trump has been absent from White House COVID-19 task force meetings for “several months,” says White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Fauci.
According to CNBC, Vice President Pence leads the task force meetings that used to occur every day during the first few months of the pandemic but have now been scaled down to one virtual meeting a week despite cases continuing to rise.
“We certainly interact with the vice president at the task force meetings, and the vice president makes our feelings and what we talk about there known to the president,” Fauci told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.
Related: Fauci quotes ‘The Godfather’ in response to Trump criticisms
Trump apparently receives all of his information via Pence and coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas, according to the director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins, who did an interview with NPR on Monday. Dr. Collins also sits on the task force.
“The President is routinely briefed about the coronavirus each and every day,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews told CNBC in a statement. “The relevant information is brought to him on the big decisions, and then he moves forward in the way that’s best for our country.”
While the President misses task force meetings, the United States is averaging nearly 61,000 new cases of COVID-19 on a daily basis, CNBC cited. Texas currently has the most cases out of any other state of the last seven days, currently sitting at 35,292 according to CDC COVID data tracker.
Trump has also gone on record to ridicule Dr. Fauci, saying that he is tired of listening to him.
“Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths,” he said, later repeating himself and raising the number even higher. “If there’s a reporter on, you can have it just the way I said it, I couldn’t care less.”
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The FDA took the unusual step Thursday in opening to the public a routine meeting with an advisory group that’s weighing in on approving the coronavirus vaccine as the agency battles public concerns about its safety as well as political pressure from President Donald Trump to approve it before the Nov. 3 election.
The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, an outside group of researchers and physicians who are advising the Food and Drug Administration on whether to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, debated the standards needed to ensure a Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective in a meeting broadcast on YouTube and C-SPAN. Those are key questions among medical experts who worry the U.S. will approve a vaccine before it has been adequately tested.
Officials at the meeting Thursday said the public forum was “critical” to build public trust and confidence in the development of potential vaccines, which are being developed in record time. FDA officials promised that any vaccine would undergo rigorous testing before being distributed to the public.
“Vaccine development can be expedited. However, I want to stress that it cannot, and must not, be rushed,” said Dr. Marion Gruber, director of FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, adding the agency would not lower its standards.
Trump has pushed the FDA to approve a drug in time to distribute by the Nov. 3 election — a daunting task even his closest advisors have said is near impossible.
“I think we should have it before the election, but frankly the politics gets involved and that’s okay. They want to play their games, it’s going to be right after the election,” Trump said in a video he posted on Twitter on Oct. 7. “The FDA has acted as quickly as they’ve ever acted in history. There’s never been a time, and no president’s ever pushed them like I’ve pushed them either, to be honest.”
The agency is approving drugs “in a matter of weeks” that used to take years, he added.
Video: Dr. Patel on how the White House should be dealing with the virus outbreak: ‘This should go well beyond what’s standard’ (MSNBC)
Four drugmakers backed by the U.S. are still conducting their late-stage trials, and medical experts don’t expect to see trial data needed for FDA authorization until later this month at the earliest.
Because of the pandemic, U.S. health officials and researchers have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates by investing in multiple stages of research even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.
The FDA, under pressure from the White House, has faced skepticism from medical experts that the vaccine approval
WALLINGFORD, CT — A “large portion” of Wallingford’s coronavirus cases in October came from a single event in town, according to Health Director Stephen Civitelli.
In an update to the Town Council this week, Civitelli said health officials were able to contact trace the confirmed COVID-19 cases to the event and found there were relationships with multiple people that also ended up impacting schools.
Civitelli provided the update at Tuesday night’s meeting, which was the first in-person Town Council meeting since April because of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to resume in-person council meetings was criticized by several people on the Wallingford Patch Neighbor Post page and a speaker at the meeting.
Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in Wallingford in October. There were 20 confirmed cases as of Oct. 13, compared to 33 cases in September, 24 in August and 18 in July.
There were 1,928 tests conducted from Sept. 26 to Oct. 3 with a positive test rate of .7 percent, according to Civitelli.
Phase 3 of the state’s reopening, which increased indoor restaurant and personal service capacity from 50 to 75 percent, began Oct. 8 and Civitelli said health officials are trying to monitor reopenings with the cases and “how we react to that as a community.”
“We’re trying to monitor everything as best we can to try and get a grasp on where cases are and get to those quickly, so that we can identify the situation and try to isolate the people before it becomes a greater issue,” Civitelli said.
Civitelli, who was appointed this week to Gov. Ned Lamont’s Vaccine Advisory Group, compared Wallingford’s case rate to two cities that were recently assigned a “Red” alert level for the state’s coronavirus warning system. Towns in the red threshold have the option to scale back to the state’s second reopening phase.
Based on a new case rate per 100,000 population, New London had a 14-day rolling average of 30.5, Norwich was 46.9 and Wallingford was at 3.7, according to Civitelli.
The school district notified parents several times within the past week of confirmed COVID-19 cases at five different schools. Councilor Chris Shortell asked Civitelli if there is a concern about the school system.
Civitelli said “not at this point” because contact tracing showed the cases originated from within the community and were not spread from students in the same cohort at school.
“If we’re identifying where everything is coming from, that’s a good thing,” Civitelli said. “It’s when I can’t wrap my arms around it, and there’s no way where I can trace it back, then that’s where we’re back in April and early May where it was just so widespread. At that point, then you have true community spread. As of right now, it seems like it’s fairly steady.”
In-person meetings resume in Wallingford
Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni opened the meeting saying it was “appropriate” for the council to resume in-person meetings.
“In the past month, children of Wallingford have returned