Argentina surpasses 900,000 COVID-19 cases, virus spreads to the interior

FILE PHOTO: Men recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) donate convalescent plasma, at the Hemotherapy Institute in La Plata, Argentina October 5, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina surpassed 900,000 cases of coronavirus on Monday, with strong growth of infections in large populated centers in the interior of the country after months of the virus’ being concentrated in Buenos Aires and its suburbs.

The government late last week tightened restrictions on the movement of people in 18 provinces for two weeks due to the growth of COVID-19 cases. On Monday, the Health Ministry said the death toll reached 24,186 and the number of infections totaled 903,730. During the previous 24 hours, 318 deaths and 9,524 new cases were reported.

As an example of the virus’ spreading outside of Buenos Aires, in areas untouched by the virus in the early days of the pandemic, more than 90% of the intensive-care beds at the Centenario hospital in the city of Rosario, 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires, are occupied by COVID-19 patients, hospital staff told Reuters.

Rosario is the main ports hub carrying agricultural commodities from the Pampas farm belt to export markets. Argentina is a major global soybean, corn and wheat supplier.

“Hopefully we continue as we are, with 95% to 97% occupancy (of ICU beds) and that narrow margin will allow us to have a reasonable turn-over of beds,” Rosario intensive care doctor Juan Pendino, 62, told Reuters.

Over the last week Argentina registered almost 100,000 new cases, with a positive rate of 72.5% as of Sunday, one of the highest levels in the world.

“We are not going to have normalcy again – neither in the short- nor medium-term – until we have a high rate of immunization of the population, either naturally or through a vaccine,” Gerardo Laube, an infectious disease doctor at the Muniz Hospital in Buenos Aires, told local radio on Monday.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Juan Bustamante; writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Leslie Adler

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White House virus aid offer is panned by Pelosi, Senate GOP

A new White House coronavirus aid has gotten bad reviews from both ends of the political spectrum

WASHINGTON — A new White House coronavirus aid offer got bad reviews from both ends of the political spectrum on Saturday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rejected the most generous Trump administration plan to date as “one step forward, two steps back.” The Republicans who control the Senate dismissed it as too expensive and a political loser for conservatives.

Pelosi said she is still hopeful that progress can be made toward a deal but it’s as clear as ever that GOP conservatives don’t want a deal on her terms.

“Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” Trump said Friday on Twitter.

The new offer totals about $1.8 trillion, aides familiar with it said, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent offer before that was about $1.6 trillion. The aides were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.

In a letter Saturday to colleagues, Pelosi said, “This proposal amounted to one step forward, two steps back. When the president talks about wanting a bigger relief package, his proposal appears to mean that he wants more money at his discretion to grant or withhold.”

She said that while his administration attempted to address some of the Democratic concerns, disagreement remained on many priorities and Democrats are “awaiting language” on several provisions.

Mnuchin’s latest offer also got a roasting from GOP senators, who weighed in on a conference call Saturday morning, according to a Republican familiar with the call who was not authorized to discuss the call publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Many conservatives are skeptical of so much deficit-financed aid in the first place, and Pelosi-sought provisions such as expanding eligibility for the Affordable Care Act landed with a thud.

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White House ups virus aid offer, resumes talks with Pelosi

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is boosting its offer in up-and-down COVID-19 aid talks Friday in hopes of an agreement before Election Day, even as President Donald Trump’s most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

Trump on Friday took to Twitter to declare: “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” A top economic adviser said the Trump team was upping its offer in advance of a Friday conversation between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The two spoke for more than 30 minutes Friday afternoon, said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

A GOP aide familiar with the new offer said it is about $1.8 trillion, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent prior offer was about $1.6 trillion. The aide requested anonymity because the negotiations are private.

“I would like to see a bigger stimulus package than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering,” Trump said on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Friday. Earlier this week, Trump lambasted Democrats for their demands on an aid bill.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.

But GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told an audience in Kentucky that he doesn’t see a deal coming together soon out of a “murky” situation in which the participants in the negotiations are elbowing for political advantage.

“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did in March and April but I think it’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said. McConnell said later that “the first item of priority of the Senate is the Supreme Court,” suggesting there isn’t time to both process a COVID relief bill and the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the election.

He spoke after Trump apparently performed an about-face, empowering Mnuchin to resume negotiations with Pelosi, D-Calif., on a larger, comprehensive coronavirus relief package despite calling off the talks just days before.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Friday that “developments are positive” and that “the bid and the offer have narrowed” in advance of a the telephone conversation later Friday between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

McConnell remains a skeptic that a deal can come together — and he has issued private warnings that many Senate Republicans will oppose a deal in the range that Pelosi is seeking.

“We do need another rescue package,” McConnell said. “But the proximity to the election and the differences about what is need at this particular juncture are pretty vast.”

Later Friday, during an appearance in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, McConnell said, “I don’t know whether we’ll get another (virus relief) package or not.”

McConnell’s remarks capped a tumultuous week in which Trump sent conflicting signals and made unworkable demands. On Tuesday, he ordered an end to the weekslong talks after being told that few Republicans

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The White House has gone to extraordinary lengths to withhold critical information about Trump’s health, even after he contracted a deadly virus



a close up of a person: Getty


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  • The White House has consistently lacked transparency when it comes to President Donald Trump’s health, especially since he contracted COVID-19.
  • Multiple officials have refused to say when the last time Trump tested negative for the virus was, raising questions as to what they could be hiding.
  • The White House has also been opaque about a mysterious trip Trump took to Walter Reed last November.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There has been an extreme lack of transparency from the White House when it comes to President Donald Trump’s health, even after he contracted COVID-19. 

The Trump administration has consistently dodged questions on when Trump’s last negative COVID-19 test was, which is vital information in terms of who the president may have exposed and precisely when he was infected. The White House has said Trump was diagnosed on October 1, but the administration’s refusal to say when the president’s last test was has raised suspicions about what they could be hiding.

“I don’t want to go backwards,” White House physician Sean Conley said on Monday when asked about Trump’s last negative test. Conley was the target of media criticism last weekend after he initially avoided other questions on Trump’s health, including whether the president had received supplemental oxygen. 

Prior to Trump’s diagnosis, the White House routinely announced when the president tested negative for the virus, but now it’s treating the matter as if it’s top secret. White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah on Thursday said the information was Trump’s “private medical history.”

“The doctors would like to keep it private since it’s his private medical history,” Farah said.

On Thursday night, Trump was asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity if he’s tested negative for COVID-19 in the time since he was diagnosed. The president did not answer the question, making it unclear whether he’s still COVID-19 positive as he pushes to get back on the campaign trail and hold rallies. 

In an MSNBC interview on Friday, White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern would not answer when pressed on when Trump’s last negative test was and contended the information is not valuable to the public.

“The president doesn’t check all of his HIPAA rights at the door just when he becomes president,” Morgenstern said. “The doctors obviously share fulsome information with the president. The president shares a great deal of information with the American public.”

“There is a reason to share certain information. It is to prevent further transmission of the virus, it’s public health purposes, and that’s what we’re doing,” Morgenstern added. 

As Insider previously reported, the last time Trump said he tested negative for COVID-19 was in May.

Insider’s Jake Lahut and Oma Seddiq asked the White House repeatedly on Thursday how often the president is tested, when his last test was, and if it had disclosed any tests taken since May 21.

“The president is tested regularly,” a White House

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White House ups offer in virus aid before talks with Pelosi

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is boosting its offer in up-and-down COVID-19 aid talks Friday in hopes of an agreement before Election Day, even as President Donald Trump’s most powerful GOP ally in the Senate said Congress is unlikely to deliver relief by then.

Trump on Friday took to Twitter to declare, “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big!” A top economic adviser said the Trump team is upping its offer in advance of a Friday conversation between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A GOP aide familiar with the new offer said it is about $1.8 trillion, with a key state and local fiscal relief component moving from $250 billion to at least $300 billion. The White House says its most recent offer was about $1.6 trillion. The aide requested anonymity because the negotiations are private.

Pelosi’s most recent public offer was about $2.2 trillion, though that included a business tax increase that Republicans won’t go for.


But GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told an audience in Kentucky that he doesn’t see a deal coming together soon out of a “murky” situation in which the participants in the negotiations are elbowing for political advantage.

“I’d like to see us rise above that like we did in March and April but I think it’s unlikely in the next three weeks,” McConnell said.

He spoke after Trump apparently performed an about-face, empowering Mnuchin to resume negotiations with Pelosi, D-Calif., on a larger, comprehensive coronavirus relief package despite calling off the talks just days before.

White House economic adviser Lawrence Kudlow told reporters Friday that “developments are positive” and that “the bid and the offer have narrowed” in advance of a telephone conversation later Friday between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

McConnell remains a skeptic that a deal can come together — and he has issued private warnings that many Senate Republicans will oppose a deal in the range that Pelosi is seeking.

“We do need another rescue package,” McConnell said. “But the proximity to the election and the differences about what is need at this particular juncture are pretty vast.”

Later Friday, during an appearance in Tompkinsville, Kentucky, McConnell said: “I don’t know whether we’ll get another (virus-relief) package or not.”

McConnell added that “the first item of priority of the Senate is the Supreme Court. We’ve got a stunningly outstanding nominee.” He later said: “We intend to put her on the Supreme Court in the next few weeks.”

McConnell’s remarks capped a tumultuous week in which Trump and sent conflicting signals and made unworkable demands. On Tuesday, he ordered an end to the weekslong talks after being told that few Republicans in Congress would end up voting for a possible Pelosi-Mnuchin deal.

After taking blowback for that decision, Trump sought to revive the negotiations on Thursday. Yet even as Mnuchin was reengaging with Pelosi, staffers in the White House — working under Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a key negotiator — were issuing demands for a

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McConnell Says He Avoided White House Because of Virus Protocols

(Bloomberg) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hasn’t been to the White House in two months because of concerns that the White House wasn’t following proper social distancing or mask-wearing protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, left, wears a protective mask as he departs the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Talks Thursday between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought no immediate breakthrough on a deal for a new pandemic relief package, while the House prepared to vote on a Democrat-only plan.


© Bloomberg
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, left, wears a protective mask as he departs the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Talks Thursday between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brought no immediate breakthrough on a deal for a new pandemic relief package, while the House prepared to vote on a Democrat-only plan.

“I haven’t actually been to the White House since August the 6th, because my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different from mine, and what I insisted we do in the Senate, which is to wear masks and practice social distancing,” McConnell said at a press conference Thursday in Kentucky.

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President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and multiple top presidential advisers are among a number people working at the White House who’ve tested positive for Covid-19.

McConnell said some people are “paying the price” for failing to wear masks and practicing social distancing.

“If any of you’ve been around me since May the 1st, I’ve said ‘wear your mask, practice social distancing, it’s the only way we know of to prevent the spread until we get a vaccine,” he said. “And we’ve practiced that in the Senate. Now you’ve heard about other places that have had a different view and they are, you know, paying the price for it.”

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ignored virus rules at wedding, report says

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a castle on top of a building: The White House is seen in Washington, early Tuesday, the morning after President Trump returned from the hospital where he was treated for COVID-19.


© J. Scott Applewhite
The White House is seen in Washington, early Tuesday, the morning after President Trump returned from the hospital where he was treated for COVID-19.

President Trump made the stunning announcement that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19 early Friday, Oct. 2. Since that time, several others in Trump’s circle have tested positive for the virus. Here’s the latest about what we know:

  Thursday, Oct. 8 11:56 a.m.  

Democratic nominee Joe Biden will hold event next week in lieu of debate, campaign says

By Christina Prignano, Globe staff

In a statement issued shortly before noon Thursday, the Biden campaign said it would hold its own campaign event next week in lieu of the debate, and called on the Commission on Presidential Debates to move back the town-hall style debate on Oct. 22. The third debate is currently set to be similar in format to the first debate.

Next week’s debate was scheduled to emphasize questions from voters rather than a moderator.

“The voters should have a chance to ask questions of both candidates, directly. Every Presidential candidate since 1992 has participated in such an event, and it would be a shame if Donald Trump was the first to refuse,” deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in the statement.

  Thursday, Oct. 8 10:07 a.m.  

Trump touts progress in stimulus talks days after spiking them

By Bloomberg News

President Trump said talks on providing additional fiscal stimulus are now “starting to work out,” after he pulled his side out of negotiations earlier this week.

“I think we have a really good chance of doing something,” Trump said Thursday morning in a live interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business. There are now “very productive talks” on coronavirus relief, he said.

Months of hard-fought negotiations on a stimulus package to shore up a slowing economic recovery came to an abrupt end Tuesday, when Trump pulled his team out of the talks. He then called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to send him standalone assistance bills, including for airlines and individual stimulus checks.

  Thursday, Oct. 8 9:52 a.m.  

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ignored virus rules at wedding, report says

By Associated Press

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows hosted a large wedding for his daughter that appeared to violate a Georgia order and city of Atlanta guidelines aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, an Atlanta newspaper reported Thursday.

Photos of the event show that social distancing guidelines were not followed during the May 31 nuptials at the Biltmore Ballrooms Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

About 70 guests, including US Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, wore tuxedos and ball gowns but no masks at the indoor wedding, and photographs show groups of people clustered closely together in the same room throughout the evening, the newspaper said. Georgia had loosened some coronavirus restrictions by the end of May, but Gov. Brian Kemp’s orders at the time

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BuzzFeed News Pulls Reporter From White House, Citing Virus Risk

BuzzFeed News has pulled a political correspondent from the White House press pool, citing concerns that the area has become a coronavirus hot zone after President Trump, many of his top aides — including the press secretary Kayleigh McEnany — and several journalists have tested positive for the virus.

A BuzzFeed News spokesman, Matt Mittenthal, confirmed that the company on Tuesday had withdrawn the correspondent, Kadia Goba, from her Wednesday shift out of concern for her safety. The spokesman added that BuzzFeed News was awaiting further guidance from the White House Correspondents’ Association.

Reporters rotate into the White House press pool, a group of journalists that represents the wider corps to share coverage of the president and the day’s events. The pool includes representatives of wire news services, newspapers and news sites, as well as television and radio outlets.

“Anyone that knows me understands I’d rather be at the White House working today,” Ms. Goba said, “but at the same time, there are obvious concerns about working indoors during an outbreak.”

She added, “I don’t want to be knocked out for the rest of the election because I’m sick.”

After BuzzFeed News notified other news organizations on Tuesday that its reporter would not work her shift, an email circulated among members of the press pool asking for someone to fill in.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Todd J. Gillman, the Washington bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News, who coordinates the print pool, wrote in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times.

“No one wants anyone to take unwarranted risk,” he added. “Nor do we want the pool system to collapse.”

Politico sent a reporter, Meridith McGraw, to cover the White House in place of the BuzzFeed correspondent.

In addition to the president and Ms. McEnany, the coronavirus outbreak has ensnared nearly a dozen members of the Trump administration. Two other members of the White House press team, including a relative of Ms. McEnany’s, are known to have tested positive. At least three journalists who have covered the White House reported that they were infected, including Michael D. Shear, a reporter at The Times.

In a statement on Wednesday, the White House Correspondents’ Association said that dozens of tests had been conducted on members of its press corps since Friday, and that there had been no additional cases of the coronavirus.

The association continued to encourage the wearing of masks and the use of regular testing on Wednesday, and said it had pushed the White House to give the press corps more information about known infections so that journalists could evaluate the risk.

“Still, despite everything we’ve experienced in recent days, it would be foolish of us to assume that the situation at the White House or on the campaign trail will improve dramatically over the coming four weeks,” the statement said.

“That means that we as a press corps, and each of us individually, must be cleareyed about the potential risks of Covid exposure on the

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What the White House cluster reveals about virus’ spread

It wasn’t long after President Donald Trump and other Republicans were diagnosed with the coronavirus that people detected a common thread: All of them had been at the White House on Sept. 26.



Chris Christie et al. standing in front of a crowd


© Provided by NBC News


Numerous people who attended the event to announce the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court are known to have caught the virus. Others close to people who tested positive at the event have since also caught the virus, some of whom initially tested negative for several days after the gathering.

The emerging White House cluster is the kind of incident that infectious disease experts are focusing on as a crucial way to understand how the coronavirus spreads. They’re known as “superspreader” events.

“What gives rise to transmission is based on multiple factors, and you get the best and biggest superspreading events when all the stars align in the wrong way,” said Jamie Lloyd-Smith, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA.

As the pandemic has evolved, infectious disease experts have zeroed in on so-called superspreaders who are thought to play a major and disproportionate role in transmitting the virus.

Although pieces of the puzzle are still missing, understanding those broader patterns of transmission will help scientists pinpoint not only how the virus spreads, but also what public health strategies will be most effective to curb runaway outbreaks.

Did the White House conduct a super-spreader event?

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There is no official definition for superspreader events, but they are characterized by incidents that result in a large cluster of infections. In March, a Biogen corporate meeting in Boston is thought to have been linked to 20,000 Covid-19 cases, according to a study published to the preprint server medRxiv that has yet to be peer-reviewed. In Michigan, a cluster of more than 180 cases in June was traced to a restaurant and bar in East Lansing. And an indoor wedding in Maine in August is thought to have resulted in at least 176 coronavirus cases and seven deaths.

Those episodes and others suggest that although any infected person can spread the virus, there are circumstances in which transmissions can spiral out of control.

One major factor is the setting. The virus can be spread through airborne transmission, which means it can linger in tiny droplets in the air. That makes certain environments particularly risky, Lloyd-Smith said.

Video: The typical progression of Covid-19 virus (CNBC)

The typical progression of Covid-19 virus

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“A perfect storm is someone who is shedding a lot of virus in a space where they are able to share that virus effectively, so an indoor space without much ventilation with a lot of other people — and particularly if those people are inconsistent with practices like wearing masks,” he said.

But there’s also a lot of individual variation, and it’s not clear whether any infected person — given the right environmental factors — could become a superspreader.

“I don’t

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Pence, Harris to clash in VP debate amid White House virus outbreak

(Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris will square off on Wednesday in their only debate, as President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis and the ongoing pandemic continue to roil the U.S. presidential contest.

The televised clash comes at a precarious moment for the Trump-Pence re-election campaign, less than a week after the president announced he had contracted COVID-19 amid a White House outbreak that has infected numerous high-profile Republicans.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, is leading Trump in national polls, including an advantage of 12 percentage points in the latest Reuters/Ipsos survey of likely voters, with less than four weeks until the Nov. 3 election.

Late on Tuesday, the two sides were still arguing over Harris’ request for plexiglass barriers on stage to lessen the chance of infection. CNN reported that a member of the commission that oversees the debate said Pence would be permitted to appear without a barrier, while Harris would have one on her side of the stage if desired.

Both Pence and Harris, a U.S. senator, tested negative for the coronavirus on Tuesday. Current government guidelines call for anyone exposed to someone with COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days regardless of test results.

Pence’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In a statement, Harris spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said, “If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their COVID response is a failure.”

With two septuagenarians at the top of the ballot, the debate could take on greater importance than in other years, when the vice presidential match-up was largely seen as an afterthought to the presidential debates. Both Pence and Harris will seek to demonstrate that they can step into the Oval Office if necessary to lead the country.

Trump, 74, returned to the White House on Monday after three days in a military hospital. It is unclear when he will again be able to campaign. Trump has said he plans to participate in the Oct. 15 presidential debate.

The pandemic is likely to dominate the proceedings. Biden, 77, and Harris, 55, have made Trump’s handling of the disease the central theme of their campaign, blaming Trump for deliberately downplaying the health risks and failing to endorse mask-wearing.

The 61-year-old Pence, who headed up the administration’s coronavirus task force, will defend Trump’s response to the virus, which has killed 210,000 Americans and decimated the U.S. economy even as other wealthy nations have managed to get the disease under control.

Viewers will have a constant reminder of the pandemic’s effect on daily life: Pence and Harris will be more than 12 feet apart on stage at the University of Utah, in addition to the plexiglass barrier

In preparation for the debate, Harris got help from former Democratic presidential primary rival Pete Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is familiar with Pence’s past record when he was governor

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