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STUDY ON COVID-19 VACCINE CANDIDATE PAUSED AFTER AN “UNEXPLAINED ILLNESS”

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A late-stage study of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been paused while the company investigates whether a study participant’s “unexplained illness” is related to the shot.

The company said in a statement last night that illnesses, accidents and other so-called adverse events “are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies,” but that its physicians and a safety monitoring panel would try to determine what might have caused the illness.

The pause is at least the second such hold to occur among several vaccines that have reached large-scale final tests in the U.S.

The company declined to reveal any more details about the illness, citing the participant’s privacy.

Temporary stoppages of large medical studies are relatively common. Few are made public in typical drug trials, but the work to make a coronavirus vaccine has raised the stakes on these kinds of complications.

TRUMP HOLDS RALLY IN FLORIDA, FIRST SINCE GETTING COVID-19

SANFORD, Florida (AP) — Defiant as ever about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump turned his first campaign rally since contracting COVID-19 into a full-throated defense of his handling of the pandemic that has killed 215,000 Americans.

Trump joked that he was healthy enough to plunge into the crowd and give voters “a big fat kiss.”

There was no social distancing and mask-wearing was spotty among the thousands who came to see Trump’s return to Florida. He held forth for an hour, trying to get his struggling campaign back on track with just weeks left before Election Day.

Though he was hospitalized battling the virus only a week ago, Trump’s message on COVID-19 was unaltered since his diagnosis: a dubious assessment that the pandemic is just about a thing of the past. However, hundreds of people in the U.S. continue to die of the virus every day.

TEXAS GOVERNOR TO SEND SURGE TEAM INTO EL PASO AREA

AUSTIN, Texas -- An ongoing wave of COVID-19 cases in the El Paso area prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to announce that a surge team of medical professionals would be dispatched to the area.

The 75 doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists being dispatched will be accompanied by a supply of extra personal protective equipment to support efforts by El Paso hospitals to meet the surge of coronavirus infections. The team will be in addition to the 169 professionals the state previously sent to the area.

As of yesterday, 313 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in El Paso, Hudspeth and Culberson counties of West Texas. The state estimates that active COVID-19 cases in El Paso County alone soared from almost 4,000 on Oct. 1 to just over 6,000 Monday. Seven cases were fatal during that period.

CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS BUREAU ORDERS REPUBLICANS TO REMOVE UNOFFIIAL BALLOT DROP BOXES

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s chief elections official has ordered Republicans to remove unofficial ballot drop boxes from churches, gun shops and other locations and Attorney General Xavier Becerra warned those behind the “vote tampering” could face prosecution.

Republican refused, saying they are taking advantage of California’s liberal ballot collection law that allows anyone to collect ballots from voters and deliver them to county election offices.

“As of right now, we’re going to continue our ballot harvesting program,” California Republican Party spokesman Hector Barajas said.

Due to the coronavirus and concerns about health safety at polling places, California for the first time mailed ballots for the Nov. 3 election to all active registered voters — more than 21 million people. The ballots come with pre-paid envelopes for voters to mail back, free of charge.

State law also allows county election officers to set up drop boxes throughout the county where people can drop off their ballots in person. The secure boxes can sometimes weigh more than 600 pounds and are monitored frequently by local election officials.

Republicans have set up their drop boxes at churches, gas stations and gun shops in at least three California counties. Some are identified as “secure ballot drop-off location,” while others say “approved and bought by the GOP.”

The party declined to say precisely how many boxes have been distributed and where they all have been placed.

FED COURT RESTORES BAN ON POLICE USING FORCE ON JOURNALISTS AT PROTESTS

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — In a split opinion, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has restored a court injunction that bans federal law enforcement from using force, threats or dispersal orders against journalists and legal observers covering protests in Portland, Oregon.

The 2-1 ruling issued this past Friday restores an injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon. That injunction was put on hold when the Trump administration challenged Simon’s order. The ruling by the 9th Circuit restores the ban while it considers the U.S. government’s appeal.

The Justice Department did not immediately comment on the ruling.

The ACLU of Oregon, which filed the initial class-action lawsuit on behalf of journalists and legal observers, applauded the news.

The Trump administration sent federal agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to Portland this summer to help quell racial injustice protests. The presence of the U.S. agents prompted thousands of residents to show up at protests.

Multiple journalists and photographers said they were targeted with tear gas, flash-bang grenades and pepper spray as they tried to document the unrest.

FANS BEING ALLOWED INTO SOME MLB PLAYOFF GAMES

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Scott McIlroy reached out with his left hand as a batting practice home run clanged off a railing and hit him in the palm, the ball popping in the air before settling back into his grip as he held a cell phone in his right hand.

Count the Texas resident and Los Angeles Dodgers fan among the first in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season to catch a pre-game souvenir — and among the first ticket buyers to see live baseball in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series last night.

Major League Baseball said it was selling 11,500 tickets per game at Globe Life Field for the series between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves and plans a similar allotment at the same ballpark when it hosts the first neutral-site World Series starting Oct. 20. McIlroy got a call from a friend knowing the longtime Dodgers fan would want to make the two-hour drive to the Dallas area.

The announced attendance was 10,700, not including those who didn’t pay. Ticket prices ranged from $40 to $250 for the NLCS, and $75-450 for the World Series, which has already sold out.

About 75% of fans appeared compliant with the requirement to wear masks except when “actively” eating or drinking. Some weren’t covering their nose or mouth.

It was the first MLB game of any kind with fans since March 12, when five Grapefruit League games in Florida were completed as the novel coronavirus caused the shutdown of spring training there and in Arizona.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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