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US News Roundup: 10-16 July


The latest research and funding policy news from the US

In depth: The United States needs more evidence to guide its response to public health crises, according to an independent panel sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal public health agency.

Full story: Steady research needed for public health crises, US academies say


Here is the rest of the US news this week…

International student visa ban reversed

The US government has reversed its decision to prevent international students from staying in the United States if they take classes entirely online. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took legal action against the policy, with multiple other universities following suit. Minutes into a court hearing in Boston, a judge announced that the administration has rescinded its policy, according to press reports. “This is a significant victory,” Harvard University president Lawrence Bacow said in a message to staff and students, adding that the university would return to the courts to “protect our international students should the government again act unlawfully”.

NOAA nominations challenged after ‘sharpiegate’ investigation

The leading Democrat member of the Senate Commerce Committee has opposed nominations for senior leadership roles at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Commerce following the release of findings from an investigation into the ‘sharpiegate’ scandal. The scandal involved senior NOAA and DoC staff backing, against scientific advice, a claim by president Donald Trump that Alabama would be affected by Hurricane Dorian, which he illustrated using a weather map altered with a Sharpie pen. Senator Maria Cantwell said acting NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs, nominated for administrator, “failed to protect scientists from political influence”, and DoC chief of staff Michael Walsh, nominated for DoC general counsel, was “instrumental in suppressing scientific information”.

Former CDC leaders blast Trump over political interference

Four former heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal public health agency, have accused the Trump administration of an unprecedented level of political interference in public health advice. Writing in the Washington Post on 14 July, the former CDC directors said they “cannot recall over our collective tenure a single time when political pressure led to a change in the interpretation of scientific evidence”. The strong criticism came after senior government figures cast doubt on the CDC’s guidelines for reopening schools.