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Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today


President Trump has lauded the experimental treatment he received for his coronavirus infection, releasing one enthusiastic video on Wednesday and another today.

In Wednesday’s video, Mr. Trump called the cocktail of monoclonal antibodies being developed by the drug maker Regeneron “a cure,” a term he repeated today. He said he would make the treatment free to anyone who needed it, stressing “the seniors” in today’s video.

The treatment, however, is still in trials; costs a great deal to produce; and involves the use of a fetal cell line derived from an aborted fetus, a practice that the president has repeatedly condemned and his administration has tried to curtail.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug Mr. Trump also received, was tested using the same cell line. In addition, at least two companies, Moderna and AstraZeneca, are also using that cell line as they race to produce vaccines against the coronavirus, and Johnson & Johnson is testing its vaccine using another cell line originally produced from fetal tissue.

Regeneron’s treatment essentially takes antibodies from Covid-19 survivors and clones them, then administers them to current patients to help their bodies fight off the infection. The fetal cell line, derived from the kidney tissue of a fetus aborted in the 1970s, is used to create virus-like particles as a proxy for live virus, to test the antibodies on.

Mr. Trump’s certainty in the efficacy of the treatment far outstrips that of health experts, who say it is impossible to know whether the antibodies made a difference in his care. In addition, the president is receiving other drugs, including the powerful steroid dexamethasone, which can enhance feelings of well being that in some patients exaggerates into mania.

Regeneron, whose shares have soared in recent days, applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of its antibody cocktail on Wednesday night.


With roughly two dozen people who have been in President Trump’s recent orbit known to be infected, the White House’s antivirus measures are coming under increasing scrutiny. A major vulnerability is that officials relied heavily on rapid tests that are prone to yielding false negatives.

The outbreak continues to grow. We’ve learned that the White House chief of security has been hospitalized with Covid-19 since late September, and at least two senior military leaders who attended a White House event are infected.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, said that he had been avoiding 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for months because of the lack of virus precautions.

“My impression was that their approach to how to handle this was different from mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” Mr. McConnell said.


States across the Northeast are witnessing a troubling rise in cases, in what could be the beginning of the anticipated second wave of the virus — a concerning prospect and a cautionary tale for the rest of the country.

The region was devastated by the virus in the spring and was then held up as a model of infection control by summer. But the hard-won gains are eroding.

Boston has halted plans to bring children back to school as cases climb precariously. New case clusters are emerging in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

In New York City, the largest resurgence of the virus since it was the epicenter of the pandemic in the spring has sparked fears that the second wave has already begun. The number of new cases recently surpassed 400 per day for the first time since June, and new restrictions that shutter nonessential businesses and schools have gone into effect in areas of Brooklyn and Queens.

That has drawn significant backlash in Orthodox Jewish areas, which are facing unwelcome scrutiny over whether the virus is spreading because some people are crowding together in synagogues and reluctant to embrace public health practices.

There may be a number of reasons for the uptick in cases. The weather has turned colder, forcing people indoors. Students have returned to schools and college campuses, and Northeasterners, who were among the first to take the virus seriously, may simply be growing weary after months of social distancing and wearing masks.


  • The coronavirus has torn through the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, sickening more than 10 percent of the tribe’s 10,000 residents and killing at least 81 people. The tribe is bracing for a second wave.

  • Poland will make face masks mandatory in public spaces starting Saturday in response to a second day of record-high case numbers.

  • Brazil surpassed five million virus cases, though its pace of confirmed infections has slowed — which many health experts believe is a demonstration that the virus has thoroughly ravaged the country.

  • In Spain, Madrid’s highest regional court annulled a lockdown that the country’s central government imposed on the capital region to contain infections.

Here’s a roundup of restrictions in all 50 states.



Our colleague Jim Dwyer, one of the greatest New York City reporters of his generation, died today at 63 of complications from lung cancer.

Jim wrote about New York, as his obituary says, “in prose that might have leapt from best-selling novels.” He crusaded against injustice, and always had time to help younger journalists. His last column, in May, was about the pandemic and the people who make survival possible. It included this reflection on the legacy of an Irish woman who fed others during the 1918 pandemic, ensuring the survival of his own family:

In times to come, when we are all gone, people not yet born will walk in the sunshine of their own days because of what women and men did at this hour to feed the sick, to heal and to comfort.

Sign up here to get the briefing by email.


Andrea Kannapell contributed to today’s briefing.

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