Worries behind the scenes at White House after Trump COVID diagnosis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House officials sought to project an air of business as usual on Friday despite President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, but aides privately expressed concern about the presidential election and showed signs of rising worry about the coronavirus.

“The business of government continues,” economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters after Trump disclosed on Twitter early in the day that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Trump flew by helicopter to Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment in the early evening. But staff members said he would continue working from a special suite there and that he had remained engaged in governing throughout the day. He did not transfer power to Vice President Mike Pence.

“We’re just trying to make sure that he takes it easy but he’s hard at work and will continue to,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox.

Trump spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, McEnany said, and discussed emergency declarations and the coronavirus stimulus package with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“His first question to me this morning was, ‘How is the economy doing, how are the stimulus talks going on Capitol Hill?,” Meadows told reporters outside the White House, adding he had spoken several times to Trump already.

Privately, some Trump advisers worried Trump’s illness could cost him the presidential election in just 31 days.

White House staff members wait to watch U.S. President Donald Trump depart by helicopter to fly to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where it was announced that he will work for at least several days after testing positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

“Clearly it changes the dynamic from us being able to travel and show enormous energy and support from the rallies, which has been part of our calculation just like in 2016,” said one Trump adviser.

The president’s upcoming election events were postponed or moved online. Trump had been scheduled to hold a “Make America Great Again” rally in Florida on Friday night, two in Wisconsin on Saturday and another in Arizona on Monday.

On Friday, the sight of more White House staff than usual donning masks, including press secretary McEnany in the evening, was taken as a sign that coronavirus risks were being taken more seriously. Communications adviser Hope Hicks and first lady Melania Trump also tested positive.

Some in Washington speculated that Trump’s events on Saturday to announce Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court may have spread the virus.

Besides Trump and his wife, attendees Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chair, Mike Lee, a Republican senator, and the University of Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John Jenkins, have all tested positive for the coronavirus.

As Trump told the country that the coronavirus would “disappear,” White House officials and many Republican politicians have eschewed mask-wearing and other protocols health officials recommend to stop the

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Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines

Welcome to Wednesday night’s Overnight Health Care, where we’re waiting to see if there’s going to be a deal on a new COVID-19 relief package.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines | Fauci said his mask stance was 'taken out of context' by Trump


© Washington Examiner/Pool
Overnight Health Care: House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses | Ex-FDA employees express worries to Congress over politicization of vaccines | Fauci said his mask stance was ‘taken out of context’ by Trump

Top House Democrat: Parties ‘much closer’ to a COVID deal ‘than we’ve ever been’

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The head of the House Democratic Caucus said Wednesday that the negotiators seeking an emergency coronavirus deal are “much closer” to a deal than they have been at any point during the long weeks of on-again-off-again talks.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) pointed to comments by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicating a willingness to embrace $1.5 trillion in new stimulus spending – a number on par with the bipartisan relief package offered last week by the Problem Solvers Caucus – noting that that figure is far closer to the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package than Republicans have previously backed.

After almost two months of stalled talks, Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have resumed the negotiations this week by phone. In some sign that progress is being made, Mnuchin met with Pelosi in the Speaker’s office on Wednesday afternoon.

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House Democrats slam pharma CEOs for price hikes driven by revenue, executive bonuses

An explosive staff report from the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee found that the CEOs of Teva and Celgene raised drug prices exponentially for no reason other than to boost profits and inflate executives’ bonuses.

Oversight Democrats at a hearing on Wednesday pressed those CEOs, and put them on the defensive.

Highlights: Internal documents obtained by the committee found Celgene raised the price of the cancer drug Revlimid 22 times.

The drug, approved to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma, more than tripled in price since its launch in 2005, driven almost exclusively by the need to meet company revenue targets and shareholder earnings goals.

In 2005, a monthly supply of Revlimid was priced at $4,515. Today, the same monthly supply is priced at $16,023, a cost of $719 per pill.

Easy target: The report found that executives at Celgene and Teva specifically targeted the U.S. market for massive increases because Medicare is not allowed to negotiate drug prices.

Context: The Democratic-led report comes just weeks before Election Day, and follows a flurry of mostly empty last-ditch efforts by President Trump aimed at showing he is taking action on drug pricing. Trump has made lowering drug prices a key part of his messaging for years, dating back to the 2016 campaign, but has little to show for all his bluster.

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Atlas, health officials feuds add to Trump coronavirus turmoil

The feuds between White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas and top public health officials are raising more questions about President Trump‘s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atlas, a

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