Agencies’ Actions Varied From Desultory To Defiant
Across the federal agencies, the response to the COVID-19 epidemic has been haphazard, but the FDA is showing signs of standing up for scientists.
NIH Chief: Trump Has Not Met With White House COVID-19 Task Force In 'Quite Some Time'
President Trump has not met with the White House coronavirus task force in "quite some time," the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said Tuesday. NIH Director Francis Collins told NPR's "Morning Edition" that Trump instead gets his information from Vice President Pence and task force member Scott Atlas, neither of whom are infectious disease experts. (Weixel, 10/20)
The New York Times:
How The F.D.A. Stood Up To The President
In what might be the final months of the Trump administration, and close enough to the election to make his firing unlikely, Dr. [Stephen M.] Hahn seems to be trying to save the F.D.A. from the fate of its sister agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose scientists have been stripped of much of their authority and independence in responding to the pandemic. “It’s better late than never, but I do think we can see a lot of damage has been done,” said Dr. Jesse L. Goodman, the F.D.A.’s chief scientist from 2009 to 2014. “And I don’t think they are out of the woods yet.” (Kaplan, LaFraniere, Weiland and Haberman, 10/20)
The EPA Refuses To Reduce Pollutants Linked To Coronavirus Deaths
In April, as coronavirus cases multiplied across the country, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejected scientists’ advice to tighten air pollution standards for particulate matter, or soot. In the next few weeks, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler likely will reaffirm that decision with a final ruling, despite emerging evidence that links particulate pollution to COVID-19 deaths. (Song and Younes, 10/21)
DeVos Says It Isn't Department Of Education's Job To Track Schools' Coronavirus Reopening Plans
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Tuesday it is not the job of her department to track school districts’ reopening plans or the number of coronavirus cases they are grappling with as districts look for guidance as to how to conduct classes safely during the pandemic. “Well I'm not sure there's a role for the Department of Education to compile and conduct that research,” DeVos said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Milken Institute in response to a question about the role of the federal government to boost confidence regarding in-person schooling. (Axelrod, 10/20)
The New York Times:
A Viral Theory Cited By Health Officials Draws Fire From Scientists
As the coronavirus pandemic erupted this spring, two Stanford University professors — Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Dr. Scott W. Altas — bonded over a shared concern that lockdowns were creating economic and societal devastation. Now Dr. Atlas is President Trump’s pandemic adviser, a powerful voice inside the White House. And Dr. Bhattacharya is one of three authors of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration, a scientific treatise that calls for allowing the coronavirus to spread naturally in order to achieve herd immunity — the point at which enough people have been infected to stall transmission of the pathogen in the community. While Dr. Atlas and administration officials have denied advocating this approach, they have praised the ideas in the declaration. (Mandavilli and Gay Stolberg, 10/19)