Coronavirus updates: Top health officials to quarantine, Obama says response has been ‘disaster’

Three top health officials and members on the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, will self-quarantine after exposure to a person with the virus, the latest in a series of developments that have brought the virus close to the inner circle of the White House in recent days.

That news came as former President Barack Obama criticized the federal response to the pandemic as a "chaotic disaster" in a call with supporters, according to published audio of the call.

There were more than 78,700 deaths and 1.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. early Sunday, according to the John Hopkins University data dashboard. Worldwide, the virus has killed almost 280,000 people and surpassed 4 million infections.

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Here are some of the most significant developments to know today:

Dr. Anthony Fauci is taking "appropriate precautions," and two other White House Coronavirus Task Force members will self-quarantine for two weeks after being in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.Three children in New York have died from an inflammatory illness that has been linked to the coronavirus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday. The illness appears to be similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome and includes a persistent fever.The federal government is shipping hundreds of donated cases of remdesivir, an experimental drug shown to be useful in treating COVID-19 patients, to six hard-hit states.

What we're talking about today: It's Mother's Day, and it's easy to see what the pandemic has taken. But it's also brought grown children home.

Does wearing a mask weaken the immune system? We rate the claim "false," even though you may have heard it in a debunked viral video.

Top health officials to self-quarantine

Multiple top health officials and members on the White House's Coronavirus Task Force will self-quarantine for two weeks after exposure to a person with the virus, according to official statements and media reports.

Among them is Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who CNN says will begin a "modified quarantine" after a low-risk exposure. He has tested negative, is taking "appropriate precautions" for that risk and will be tested regularly and monitor his temperature and other health indicators, a NIAID spokesperson confirmed to USA TODAY. By virtue of his calm, Brooklyn-inflected White House briefings, Fauci has become a leading expert on the coronavirus.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be “teleworking for the next two weeks" after it was determined he had a “low-risk exposure" to a person at the White House who tested positive, the CDC said in a statement Saturday evening. The statement said he felt fine and has no symptoms.

And the Food and Drug Administration confirmed to USA TODAY on Saturday that commissioner Stephen Hahn will self-quarantine for two weeks after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Hahn has tested negative for the virus, according to FDA press officer Stephanie Caccomo.

The coronavirus pandemic has been creeping closer to the inner circle of the White House in the past week, as two employees there have tested positive. Meanwhile, at least 11 U.S. Secret Service employees were reported to be infected and about 60 other staffers were in self-quarantine, USA TODAY has learned.

— Joel Shannon

Obama: US coronavirus response a 'chaotic disaster'

Former President Barack Obama called the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic an "absolute chaotic disaster" and promised to campaign "as hard as I can" for former Vice President Joe Biden in a Friday call with 3,000 people who served in his administration.

A recording of the call was obtained by Yahoo News. Katie Hill, Obama's communications director, confirmed the call to CBS News.

In addressing the Trump administration's response to the global coronavirus pandemic, Obama cited concerns about division and tribalism in the country and internationally. That has contributed to an "anemic and spotty" response to the health crisis, Obama said.

— Joel Shannon

More coronavirus news from USA TODAY

Airport fever screenings: The White House is pushing to restart airport fever screenings for COVID-19, overruling CDC experts.There's a global, all-out race to create a vaccine. Here are the latest developments.Historic layoffs: They're taking the largest toll on Blacks, Latinos, women and the youngLooking for toilet paper, disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer? Try bartering on Facebook and Nextdoor

Do opioids, heart disease and cancer kill more Americans annually than the coronavirus? We checked the facts.

FDA authorizes new type of diagnostic test

The Food and Drug Administration issued its first emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 antigen test, a new type of diagnostic test that provides rapid results and is cheap to produce.

Antigen tests analyze samples collected with a nose or throat swab to search for proteins found on or within the virus. While positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, there is a higher chance of false negatives, according to the FDA.

The test is different from the two existing types of FDA-authorized tests. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are diagnostic tests that detect genetic material from the virus to determine if someone has an active infection. Serological tests detect antibodies to attempt to determine if someone has had the virus and built up an immune response to it.

The FDA issued the authorization late Friday to the California-based Quidel Corporation.

— Grace Hauck

Trump congratulates Dana White for putting on UFC 249 during pandemic

Trump was featured in a pre-taped video during Saturday’s UFC 249 preliminary broadcast on ESPN, congratulating UFC president Dana White and the UFC for resuming operations and hosting the card during the global coronavirus pandemic.

“They’re going to have a big match,” Trump said during the broadcast. “We love it. We think it’s important – get the sports leagues back. Let’s play. We do the social distancing and whatever else you have to do, but we need sports. We want our sports back, and congratulations to Dana White and the UFC.”

UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Jacksonville, Fla., was not only the first UFC card in the U.S. since the outbreak of coronavirus forced stay-at-home orders in most of the country, but also the first major sporting event of any sort.

Although the UFC paired with the Florida State Boxing Commission and implemented several safety protocols to deal with COVID-19, there’s been plenty of criticism surrounding whether or not professional fighting should resume.

— Danny Segura

More COVID-19 headlines from USA TODAY

Reopening America:Find out when your state is lifting restrictions LGBTQ Americans are getting coronavirus, losing jobs. Anti-gay bias is making it worse for them.What it's like to be principal of a school closed by coronavirus: 'I just miss them so much'


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