Wednesday News: Frivolous


JUDGE WILL ISSUE WRITTEN OPINION IN FOREST'S LAWSUIT AGAINST GOVERNOR: Forest vs. Cooper — the lawsuit, not the election battle — hinged on interpretation of the state’s Emergency Management Act and what the state law says about the authority of the governor. After 90 minutes of arguing each side by lawyers and questioning by Gale, the judge said that instead of giving a “horseback opinion,” he owed it to them to write a thorough opinion because of the significant public importance. He also acknowledged Cooper’s Phase Two of reopening is scheduled to expire on Friday so he said he would rule as quickly as he could. Forest has said the lawsuit is about the process, not the orders themselves. Forest and other Republicans on the Council of State have said they want more of a say in the governor’s coronavirus response. However, Forest was not joined by other Council of State members in the lawsuit.

FEDERAL JUDGE LEAVES WITNESS REQUIREMENT IN PLACE FOR ABSENTEE VOTING: Among other things, U.S. District Judge William Osteen declined to extend the state's voter registration period, set to end now 25 days before the Nov. 3 elections, or to require election offices to offer secure, no-contact drop boxes for absentee ballots. He also left in place a one-witness requirement for absentee ballots, a rule that left-leaning groups had targeted as an unfair voting restriction during the ongoing pandemic, given the need for social distancing and the higher risk senior citizens face from the coronavirus. But Osteen's 188-page order forbids state and local election officials from rejecting absentee ballots simply because of a signature mismatch or bad witness contact information. That rule will stay in place until the state puts together a process that lets voters be heard before their absentee ballot is rejected, something Osteen said the state is working on. The order also blocks a number of rules forbidding nursing home employees from helping people vote by mail, saying coronavirus visitation restrictions at the homes may make it impossible for family members to assist, potentially denying people their right to vote.

FORSYTH COUNTY SHERIFF APOLOGIZES TO FAMILY OF INMATE KILLED BY DETENTION OFFICERS: Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said during a news conference that he was saddened by the video showing jail officers hog-tying John Neville before Neville died at a local hospital last December. “And I cried as well,” Kimbrough said, directing the comment to Sean Neville, John Neville's son, who was seated in front of the sheriff alongside family attorney Mike Grace. “While mistakes were made that day, the truth is the truth,” the sheriff said. Five former detention officers and a nurse were charged last month with involuntary manslaughter in connection with John Neville's death. Kimbrough also said the sheriff's office has undergone administrative changes as a result of Neville's death, including what Kimbrough described as “integrative training" with the department which involves medical providers.

TRUMP SUES NEVADA OVER NEW MAIL-IN VOTING PROGRAM: President Trump’s campaign followed through late Tuesday on a threat to sue Nevada over a new law passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic that requires election officials to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters. In a federal lawsuit, the campaign claims that the law, signed Monday by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution on multiple counts, including violating a provision that grants Congress the sole power to set Election Day. The law allows ballots to be counted later if they are postmarked by Election Day. That, the campaign argues, violates federal laws by “requiring elections officials to accept and count ballots received after Election Day even when those ballots lack objective evidence that voters cast them on or before Election Day. In short, [the law] effectively postpones and prolongs Nevada’s 2020 general election past the Election Day established by Congress.” Trump threatened the lawsuit on Monday, tweeting that Democrats in the state were “using Covid to steal the state.” Trump for weeks has sought to undermine confidence in mail-in balloting by claiming without evidence that it will lead to widespread fraud. On Tuesday, however, he encouraged Floridians to cast absentee ballots, which he claimed are more secure in their state, as fears mounted among Republican strategists that the president’s rhetoric could cost the party votes in November.

TRUMP'S PUSH FOR PLASMA TREATMENT IS UNDERMINING CLINICAL TRIALS THAT WOULD PROVE (OR DISPROVE) ITS EFFICACY: President Trump on Monday promoted its promise: “You had something very special. You had something that knocked it out. So we want to be able to use it,” he said, calling on Covid-19 survivors to donate their plasma, which he called a “beautiful ingredient.” But the unexpected demand for plasma has inadvertently undercut the research that could prove that it works. The only way to get convincing evidence is with a clinical trial that compares outcomes for patients who are randomly assigned to get the treatment with those who are given a placebo. Many patients and their doctors — knowing they could get the treatment under the government program — have been unwilling to join clinical trials that might provide them with a placebo instead of the plasma. As of last week, just 67 people had enrolled in the Columbia study — too few to form sound statistical conclusions. In a last-ditch effort, Dr. Lipkin’s team shipped the plasma to Brazil, where the epidemic is still raging. Now, at the height of a public health crisis, the government’s push to distribute an unproven treatment to desperately ill patients as quickly as possible could come at the cost of completing clinical trials that would potentially benefit millions around the world by determining whether those treatments actually work. “I’m not as concerned about the political leaders having a misguided approach to science,” she said. “What I’m really concerned about is scientists having a misguided approach to science.” On Monday, four former F.D.A. commissioners — including Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who served under Mr. Trump — called for more rigorous clinical trials to evaluate whether plasma is an effective treatment for the coronavirus. “If this is going to work, we need to do it right,” they wrote.



Jumping the gun

I can understand why primary care physicians would opt for direct treatment as opposed to a trial. Their concern is for their individual patients as opposed to the broader issue of proving it works. But that's where Trump's FDA is failing us (big surprise): giving those doctors the choice to make that decision prematurely.

Clever little germ...

But there is such a thing as "too clever"...