GAO to probe political interference at health agencies; FDA panel to review COVID-19 vaccines — 5 updates

The U.S. recorded at least 58,387 new COVID-19 cases Oct. 19, marking the highest single-day increase reported on a Monday since July 20, according to data from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University cited by CNN

This figure is up 40 percent from the number of cases reported Monday, Oct. 12. CNN said Monday is usually among the lowest reporting days of the week, even though unreported COVID-19 cases from the weekend are often added to this tally.  

Five updates:

1. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will meet Oct. 22 to discuss COVID-19 vaccines for the first time, reports STAT. The FDA relies on the external committee to determine whether new vaccines are safe and effective based on available data. The meeting displays an effort to make decisions that aren't affected by politics, according to STAT.

2. All public transportation passengers and workers should wear masks, according to new CDC guidelines. The agency strongly recommends individuals wear masks on planes, trains, buses and other public transportation to limit the spread of COVID-19.

3. UNICEF will stockpile 520 million syringes by the end of 2020 to prepare for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the organization said Oct. 19. The effort is part of a larger plan to acquire 1 billion syringes during 2021. 

4. The Government Accountability Office will investigate whether any White House officials have interfered with the CDC and FDA's pandemic response activities, Senate Democrats said Oct. 19, according to Politico. The independent watchdog is slated to launch the probe in about three months. 

5. California will convene a panel of health experts to independently review any FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine before distributing it in the state, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said Oct. 19, according to The Hill.

Snapshot of COVID-19 in the U.S.

Cases: 8,215,605
Deaths: 220,134
Recovered: 3,272,603

Counts reflect data available as of 8:30 a.m. CDT Oct. 20.

More articles on public health:
'Long COVID' may be 4 different syndromes, UK health agency report finds
COVID-19 hospitalizations by state: Oct. 20
22 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Oct. 20

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