President Trump and public health officials touted the promise of convalescent plasma therapy as a treatment for the coronavirus disease.
“We’re also very encouraged about the prospects for plasma therapies,” Trump said Monday. “This really makes people better.”
Plasma therapy is an experimental treatment in which doctors take blood from a patient who has recovered from COVID-19 and whose body has antibodies that it created to fight the virus. Doctors then transfuse the liquid part of the blood, called plasma, into the COVID-19-positive patient’s blood.
“We need that beautiful ingredient that you that got better seem to have in your veins,” Trump said. “And you know, you had something very special, something that knocked it out, so we want to be able to use it.”
Trump encouraged people who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma, “because we’re low.” He joined the Red Cross and 13 other healthcare organizations last week to launch a national plasma drive where he announced that roughly 50,000 coronavirus patients have been treated with convalescent plasma therapy already.
Four former Food and Drug Administration Commissioners publicly endorsed convalescent plasma therapy Monday. They pushed for a “concerted effort to collect blood plasma, along with clinical trials to determine when its benefits outweigh the risks so we can treat the right people at the right time.”
Nearly 4.7 million coronavirus infections have been confirmed in the U.S. and more than 155,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Trump attacked White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx for the first time Monday, saying on Twitter that Birx was “pathetic” for saying that the coronavirus had become more dangerous and widespread in recent months.
“So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics,” Trump said. “In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Birx Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” saying that she is complicit in Trump’s efforts to downplay the pandemic, adding, “I don’t have confidence” in Birx.
Last week, Pelosi told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, “Deborah Birx is the worst. Wow, what horrible hands you’re in,” according to Politico. Meanwhile, White House officials came to Birx’s defense in the wake of criticism from Pelosi. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said Sunday that Birx is “one of the smartest, honest, most talented professionals I’ve ever worked with” and called attacks “baseless,” “disgusting,” and “shameful.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy scaled back indoor group size limits to 25 people Monday, with exceptions for weddings, funerals, and religious and political events. The limit for indoor gatherings had increased to a maximum of 100 people in June. That was up from the previous maximum of 50 people.
“We cannot be any clearer that indoor gatherings — especially large, crowded ones, where social distancing isn’t being practiced and face masks aren’t being worn — are not safe,” Murphy said in Monday’s press briefing.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, overruled a decision from health officials in Montgomery County to keep private and parochial schools closed for in-person classes through October. He issued an emergency order Monday reversing the county’s decision.
“The blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer,” Hogan said.
Private and parochial schools have said they want to fully reopen for in-person learning, saying classes that are smaller than those in public schools will allow them to more easily follow social distancing guidelines, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Florida health officials reported 4,866 new coronavirus cases Monday as well as 73 new deaths. The number of new cases is the lowest single-day total the state has reported since June.
At Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press conference Monday, health officials and providers encouraged the wearing of masks, while DeSantis downplayed their effectiveness at protecting people from the virus.
“The physical distancing, avoiding the close contact and an enclosed environment, that should not be put aside, so you’re going to do the mask and addition to that,” DeSantis said. “But just understand… particularly with some of those cloth masks, you don’t have 100% protection of the droplets you’re talking about. It will intercept hopefully some… but certainly not all, so people shouldn’t have a false sense of security on that.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District has reached a tentative deal with United Teachers Los Angeles, a teacher’s union, to construct a more predictable class schedule for students when schools reopen virtually later this month. The schedule would start at 9 am and end at 2:15 pm, which creates a semblance of normalcy for both students and teachers used to a normal school day.
The school day would include daily live online interaction, small group and independent work, as well as time for office hours, during which students and families could connect with teachers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
This last weekend the series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers was postponed when one player and three staff members of the Cardinals tested positive for COVID-19. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said the MLB season would continue.
The struggle against COVID-19 may be setting back efforts against tuberculosis, HIV and malaria, according to the New York Times. Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, the director of the World Health Organization’s global malaria program, told the Times, “Covid-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago.” The pandemic has caused clinics to shutdown, adversely affecting patients with the TB, malaria, and H.I.V. Additionally, delivery of medications to areas struggling with those diseases has been limited due to restrictions on air and sea travel.
House Democrats said that they are making progress in striking a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other White House officials to pass another coronavirus aid package after meeting for over two hours Monday.
“We are really getting an understanding of each side’s position,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “There are a lot of issues that are still outstanding, but I think there is a desire to get something done as soon as we can.”
Mnuchin left the meeting Monday afternoon and walked over to the Senate, where he planned to brief Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who accused Democrats of introducing “a massive wish list for left-wing lobbyists.”