While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for October 9

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Indiana cases. Indiana reported 1,488 new coronavirus cases Thursday–the second-most reported in a day.

Last Friday, the state reported 1,495 coronavirus cases on its dashboard. Those cases fell over the course of multiple days, however. All but one of Thursday’s newly reported cases fell on Wednesday, making Oct. 7 the single day with the highest number of cases reported at 1,487.

The state reported 16 additional deaths.

Also of concern: an uptick in the state’s seven-day positivity rate, which currently stands at 5.1% and has steadily increased during the week.

The CDC recommends against fully reopening if a state’s positivity rate falls above 5%.

President’s recovery. President Donald Trump‘s physician said Trump finished his course of therapy on Thursday, in a new letter released just after 7 p.m.

“Since returning home, his physical examination has remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest progression of illness,” Dr. Sean P. Conley said in the letter.

He added that Saturday will be day 10 since Thursday’s diagnosis.

“I fully anticipate the President’s safe return to public engagement at that time,” Conley said.

The diagnosis was not made public until Friday morning.

Conley also said President Trump “responded extremely well to treatment,” without adverse therapeutic effects.

White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said President Trump worked from the Oval Office on Thursday, making calls about stimulus negotiations.

Meanwhile, the fate of the final debates between President Trump and Democrat Joe Biden is uncertain as the campaigns offered dueling proposals for moving forward with a process.

On Wednesday, President Trump posted a nearly 5-minute video on Twitter Wednesday saying he plans to make an experimental coronavirus treatment, which has not yet been approved for use beyond a clinical trial, available and free to the public.

“This was a blessing from God that I caught it,” Trump said about his diagnosis in the video recorded outside the Oval Office.

The president received the experimental treatment called REGN-COV2, a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, last week. The manufacturer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., told NewsNation in a statement that they received a request from the president’s physicians to provide a dose.

Stimulus update. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for 40 minutes on Thursday about a coronavirus stimulus relief bill, according to a Pelosi spokesperson.

“Their conversation focused on determining whether there is any prospect of an imminent agreement on a comprehensive bill. The Secretary made clear the President’s interest in reaching such an agreement,” said deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill.

At the same time, White House spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said President Donald Trump wants a “skinny” coronavirus relief bill that includes elements such as direct payments and a bailout to the struggling airline sector.

Pelosi’s office called the statements from Farah a contradiction of her call. However, “the Speaker trusts that the Secretary speaks for the President,” Hammill said.

In a later update with the media, Farah said President Trump worked from the Oval Office, making calls on a stimulus plan that would include direct payments and the Paycheck Protection Program.

“The president remains committed to, we’d like to see airline aid,” she said. “We’d like to see sort of a skinny piecemeal bill if we’re able to get that, that will deal with PPP and with direct payments. But we’re open to going with something bigger, but we’re not going to operate from the 2.2 trillion that the speaker laid out.”

Crisis in France. Over the course of a single overnight shift this week, three new COVID-19 patients were rushed into Dr. Karim Debbat’s small intensive care ward in the southern French city of Arles. His service now has more virus patients than during the pandemic’s first wave, and is scrambling to create new ICU beds elsewhere in the hospital to accommodate the sick.

Similar scenes are playing out across France. COVID-19 patients now occupy 40% of ICU beds in the Paris region, and nearly a quarter in ICUs nationwide, as several weeks of growing infections among young people spread to vulnerable populations.

Despite being one of the world’s richest nations — and one of those hardest hit when the pandemic first washed over the world — France hasn’t added significant ICU capacity or the staff needed to manage extra beds, according to national health agency figures and doctors at multiple hospitals. Like in many countries facing resurgent infections, critics say France’s leaders haven’t learned their lessons from the first wave.

“It’s very tense, we don’t have any more places,” Dr. Debbat told The Associated Press. His hospital is converting recovery rooms into ICUs, delaying non-urgent surgery and directing more and more of his staff to high-maintenance COVID patients. Asked about extra medics to help with the new cases, he said simply, “We don’t have them. That’s the problem.”

When protesting Paris public hospital workers confronted French President Emmanuel Macron this week to demand more government investment, he said: “It’s no longer a question of resources, it’s a question of organization.”

He defended his government’s handling of the crisis, and noted 8.5 billion euros in investment promised in July for the hospital system. The protesting medics said the funds are too little and too slow in coming, after years of cost cuts that left France with half the number of ICU beds in 2020 that it had in 2010.

ICU occupancy rates are considered an important indicator of how saturated the hospital system is and how effective health authorities have been at protecting at-risk populations.

And France’s numbers aren’t looking good.

It reported more than 18,000 new daily cases Thursday, and virus patients now occupy 1,427 ICU beds nationwide — a figure that has doubled in less than a month. France’s overall ICU capacity is 6,000, roughly the same as in March, according to national health agency figures provided to the AP.

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