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Apley declined to specify which companies he’s represented or what they’re paying him. He said the companies pay a membership fee to be in the coalition he represents. While Apley is currently focused on shaping news coverage, he said direct lobbying of Congress could come later.

 “Our initial interest right now is getting the story out,” he said. Lobbying “is a possibility being discussed as we proceed.” Apley’s firm, Black Watch Agribusiness, advises companies on USDA contracting opportunities, according to its website. Apley has been a registered lobbyist on and off for two decades, including as recently as last year, according to congressional records.

 Federal contracting rules prohibit using taxpayer dollars on lobbying or political expenses. Contractors are, however, free to use their own funds to lobby, and routinely do. Trump, his daughter Ivanka and Perdue have personally praised the program. “USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program is an example of Americans helping Americans”.

First Drug Proves Able To Improve Survival From COVID-19

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE

proper licenses. Some organizations across the country reported difficulty working with unfamiliar distributors who won the USDA contracts. Meanwhile, well-established firms said their bids were rejected on mistaken grounds. The Democrats also asked if the USDA thought about apportioning funding to regions based on population. Out of $1.2 billion in the program’s first round, just $46 million is going to the Northeast. Even though the region has the most coronavirus cases, it received the least money of any region except the Mountain Plains, which has almost half as many people. Maine and Alaska were left out of the program altogether. Food banks in the Northeast told ProPublica the imbalance makes it harder to find food for hard-hit communities. The USDA said it’s evaluating how to reach “underserved” areas in future funding rounds. The controversy m o b i l i z e d s o m e contractors who wanted to change the narrative. 

 Contractors for Trump’s Controversial $3 Billion Food Aid...

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 extra oxygen alone. This is the same study that earlier this month showed the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was not working against the coronavirus. The study enrolled more than 11,000 patients in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who were given either standard of care or that plus one of several treatments: dexamethasone; the HIV combo drug lopinavir-ritonavir, the antibiotic azithromycin; the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab; or plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 that contains antibodies to fight the virus. Research is continuing on the other treatments. The research is funded by government health agencies in the United Kingdom and private donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. ___ AP medical writer Maria Cheng contributed reporting from London.

are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.” Even though the drug only helps in severe cases, “countless lives will be saved globally,” said Nick Cammack of Wellcome, a British charity that supports science research. “Dexamethasone must now be rolled out and accessed by thousands of critically ill patients around the world,” said Cammack, who had no role in the study. “It is highly affordable, easy to make, can be scaled

up quickly and only needs a small dosage.” Steroid drugs reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in COVID-19 patients as the immune system overreacts to fight the infection. This overreaction can prove fatal, so doctors have been testing steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs in such patients. The World Health Organization advises against using steroids earlier in the course of illness because they can slow the time until patients clear the virus. R e s e a r c h e r s estimated that the drug would prevent one death for every eight patients treated while on breathing machines and one for every 25 patients on 

Researchers in England say they have the first evidence that a drug can improve COVID-19 survival: A cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients. R e s u l t s w e r e announced Tuesday and researchers said they would publish them soon. The study is a large, strict test that randomly assigned 2,104 patients to get the drug and compared them with 4,321 patients getting only usual care. The drug was given either orally or through an IV. After 28 days, it had reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen. It did not appear to help less ill patients. “This is an extremely welcome result,” one study leader, Peter Horby of the University of Oxford, said in a statement. “The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who 

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