Tag Archives: Dr. Scott Gottlieb

COVID-19 Roundup: Farmers’ Market Supports Vendors; Aid For Small Businesses; Videos, Art, And More

The Westport Farmers’ Market is between seasons. But they never stop helping their shoppers — or their farmers.

At a time when healthy, fresh food is especially important; when supermarket shopping carries risks, and purveyors — like all of us — have been rocked by COVID-19, the Farmers’ Market has a plan.

Just click here. Scroll down; click on a logo to select a vendor (there are 8: Calf & Clover Creamery, Seacoast Mushrooms, Wave Hill Breads, Farmers & Cooks, Two Guys from Woodbridge, Paul’s Custom Pet Food, Herbacious Catering and Ox Hollow Farm).

Place your order. Pay directly on their site, by Wednesday noon.  You’ll receive info about your scheduled pickup time by 8 a.m. Thursday. (Delivery is available too — but only in Westport.)

If you’re picking up, at the appropriate time head to the Winter Farmers’ Market site: Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens, 7 Sylvan Lane South. Your order will be bagged and waiting outside. Only the vendor and you will touch your bag.

Bring your own totes, if you’ve ordered several bags. “Bring your patience too,” the Farmers’ Market says. “We will figure this out together.”

Seems like the Farmers’ Market has already figured out most of it. Now all we have to do is order — and thank them, and their awesome farming partners.


Alert reader Marshall Kiev passes along a great summary of the relevant small business relief portion of the recently enacted CARES Act.

“This relief package should be an important  lifeline to many small businesses in Westport – coffee shops, butchers, hair salons, etc.,” he says. “Let’s get the word out to everyone. Many of these businesses are shut down, and owners may not be aware of the available funding.”

Click here to view — then forward far and wide!

Many shuttered Westport businesses can benefit from recent legislation. (Photo/Katherine Bruan)


I’ve written before about Cup of Sugar: the fantastic local group providing deliveries of food, medication and anything else for people in need. (Just click here, then click “Request a Delivery.”)

Nick Ribolla was ready to graduate this spring, from Columbia University. He’s finishing online, but wants to help his home town. He signed up with Cup of Sugar. Still, he is eager to do even more.

He has a lot to offer. He’s sharp, multi-talented, funny and fun. (He’s also got plenty of experience with kids, as a longtime camp counselor).

Nick can help youngsters via Zoom with humanities (“especially English and creative writing”), and Spanish. He’ll also help them manage their workloads. “Whatever I can do, I’ll do,” he says simply.

Call or text: 203-451-9453. And of course, say “gracias.”

Nick Ribolla


The Westport Police Department has put together some great videos. A variety of Westporters (see how many you know!) offer messages — “stay strong!” “keep your distance!” “keep buying local!” — via their Facebook page.

Just search on FB for “Westport Police Department.” Or click here for the latest (with a cameo by yours truly); click here for another, and click here for the first.


Once again, Dr. Scott Gottlieb appeared on a Sunday morning news show, direct from his Westport yard.

This morning, the former FDA commissioner told “Face the Nation” that coronavirus restrictions should remain in place ahead of a “difficult April,” and that the US might have “millions” of cases over the next few months.

Click here for the interview.


Coleytown Elementary School art teacher Deb Goldenberg is working with her colleagues around town to help every school share positive messages — through art, of course.

Students are drawing or making designs, then adding brief ideas like “Spread kindness and love.” They’re encouraged to experiment with patterns and fonts. Messages will be included with the school’s Morning News.


In today’s Persona interview, Jimmy Izzo discusses why shopping local is more important than ever. Click here for a clip, then download the app for the full Q&A.

Jimmy Izzo


And finally, if you’re missing a loved one — well, in a pandemic, just follow doctor’s orders.

PS: Sure, get up and dance. No one’s watching!

COVID-19 Roundup: Neighbors Rally; Face Mask Collections; Informative Videos, And More

Someone’s doing great things in the Gorham Avenue/Evergreen neighborhood.

They’re distributing notes in residents’ mailboxes, along with colored paper. The notes ask residents to put the appropriate color in a street-facing window. Green indicates “all ok.” Red means “need supplies.” Yellow is for “elderly/living alone or isolated/mobility issues.”

The note promises that neighbors will monitor the signs, and act as needed. It also offers a phone number to call or text if supplies are needed. Residents can also call that number if they want to help others.

What a great idea — and easy to replicate, in any neighborhood! (Hat tip: Mark Mathias)


Westporter Stephanie Webster’s CTBites is always a great way to keep up with restaurants and bars all around the state. This week’s edition offers comprehensive coverage of places that are open for pickup and delivery throughout Connecticut. There’s also a story about chefs doing good things, and ways everyone else can help them and others.

Click here for details. There are tons of them!


Greens Farms Congregational Church worship, meetings and religious school are now held online.

But yesterday congregants gathered together — 6 feet apart, of course — at a drive-thru food drive for Inspirica in Stamford (where homeless families struggle without the usual supply of donated food and volunteers to help), and Pivot Ministries (a men’s recovery mission in Bridgeport). It’s social distance — and social support — at its best.


The Yale New Haven Health System needs disposable head covers and caps; disposable gowns, gloves and face masks; N95 respirator face masks; powered air purifying respirators; face shields and goggles; coveralls and scrubs; shoe covers; disinfection wipes and liquids, and general purpose hand cleaners.

All should be in original, unopened packages. Email donationsppe@ynhh.org. Include contact information so staff can respond.


Meanwhile, Elizabeth Newman — a physician assistant at New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell — is collecting face masks because of the critical shortages at all hospitals in the are, including hers.

She  has already picked up hundreds in the area, and can pick up tens to hundreds more from doorsteps in the evenings. Email elizabeth.h.newman@gmail.com. Anyone with access to larger quantities shoud contact masks@nyp.org to ship them directly.

Elizabeth notes, “I don’t want to take supplies from local hospitals if they need them. If anyone has any to spare they can also try to donate to the local hospital or EMS station. If they don’t need them I’m happy to bring them into the city.

“Also if owners of spas, tattoo parlors, salons, etc. that are shutting down can spare theirs, I know Governor Cuomo is willing to purchase masks at a premium,which could help offset their business losses.”


Garelick & Herbs offers 20% off for any orders of in-kind donating to elderly, low-immune deficiency or in need neighbors. Contact them to help coordinate this; also contact if you are interested in helping in other ways: social distancing delivery, phoning those who are isolated, etc. Email Garelickandherbs@gmail.com or pgarelick@aol.com; call or text 203-913-9737.


As students adjust to distance learning, Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas is a clear, calming presence.

This morning he offered his second video update. He discussed next steps for students and staff, AP tests, social distancing and more. You don’t have to be a high schooler or parent to appreciate today’s news. Click here, then scroll down under “Announcements” to March 23, and click on the video.


Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb appeared yesterday on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation.” He spoke “outside his Connecticut home” — which, as “06880” readers know, is in Westport.

Click below for the informative interview.

(Hat tip: Dennis Jackson)


As visitors to Aspetuck Land Trust’s 44 trailed preserves increase dramatically — particularly Trout Brook Valley — the non-profit reminds visitors to leave dogs at home. Unfortunately, they create too many opportunities for close human contact. In addition, Aspetuck will closely monitor all areas, to make sure there is proper social distancing. Click here for information on all the preserves.

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Back to face masks.

Lea Kaner is the mother of former 2nd Selectman Avi Kaner and fellow Westporter Celia Offir. When the virus hit, over 1,300 employees in her family’s business — Morton Williams supermarkets — had no face masks.

Unpacking shipments, stocking shelves and checking out customers, those men and women are on the front lines. So Lea — an expert seamstress — stepped up.

Kaner and his wife Liz found pattern cut sheets and instructions on the internet. They drove to a store in Milford, and filled the car with fabric and ribbons. Then Lea went to work.

She’s still working almost non-stop to make sure every employee is protected. Plus, they’re the best looking face masks around.

 

Scott Gottlieb Faces The Nation About COVID-19

Yesterday morning — just an hour or so before local officials convened a community forum on the COVID-19 virus — our neighbor Dr. Scott Gottlieb was in a TV studio.

President Trump’s former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration was interviewed on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Here’s what he said.

MARGARET BRENNAN: For a closer look at how prepared we are for the coronavirus here in the U.S., we turn to former FDA commissioner and physician Dr. Scott Gottlieb. Good to have you here.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Thanks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You served in the Trump administration. What do you think the administration is doing now that is right, wrong in its handling of the virus?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Right. Well, certainly expanding the diagnostic capability is the right move. We’re going to have the capacity by the end of this week to diagnose probably 10,000 people a day or screen 10,000 people a day with the public health labs. Hundred labs doing hundreds of tests a day. By the end of the week after that, we’ll probably bring on another 10,000. So we’ll have testing capacity of perhaps as much as 20,000 a day by the end of the next two weeks. Once we bring on the academic labs, that was really a critical step, bringing on those academic labs and leveraging their capacity. These are the major medical centers. What we need to do now is make a real concerted effort to get a therapeutic. We know when this started, but we don’t know when this is going to end. And what’s going to end it is our technology. Our savior here is going to be our technology. And we need to make a really robust effort to try to develop a therapeutic.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Meaning a treatment?

DR. GOTTLIEB: A  treatment or a vaccine. But a- a therapeutic- a treatment is going to be more likely to be available in the fall. A vaccine is a much longer way off. And we always knew when that once in a generation strain came along, and this might be that strain, that what we were going to have to depend on was our science and something to stop it like a treatment or a vaccine. A treatment, again, we could have by September, October, potentially.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But more testing means more positive results. I mean, you’re saying basically expect the number of those who’ve been diagnosed with the virus to also increase?

DR. GOTTLIEB: It’s going to increase. This- right now, there’s probably hundreds or low thousands of cases. Everyone’s–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Hundreds or low thousands of coronavirus cases–

DR. GOTTLIEB: In the U.S.–

MARGARET BRENNAN: –in the U.S. that aren’t that aren’t reported yet?

DR. GOTTLIEB: –that aren’t reported yet. It’s a big country 3- 340 million people, 330 million people, so anyone’s individual risk is- is still very low. But we need to get those cases diagnosed and identified so we can start getting people quarantined and into treatment and prevent more spread. We need to start mitigating the implications of the spread. There was an analysis out today by Trevor Bradford, very good researcher out of the Hutch, looking at the genetic strains in Washington state. And by looking at the strains and the drift between the different strains for the people who have been diagnosed there, he’s suggested that there’s perhaps hundreds and maybe low thousands of cases. It’s an interesting analysis. There probably are more cases. We have community spread now in Washington state, California, perhaps Illinois or Oregon. So certainly hundreds of cases.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, has the administration been slow in its response?

DR. GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think the decision the administration made to block the travel, which was controversial at the time, clearly bought us time. It- it slowed the introduction of the virus into the country. Virus was probably here at that time, but it slowed additional cases. The question is, what do we do with that time? I think there’s some things we did that were very smart. We got the country prepared. One of the mistakes, one of the challenges was getting the diagnostic testing in place. I think what we should have done and I don’t want to, you know, armchair quarterback this, we relied on the CDC. We always rely on a CDC in a public health emergency. But simultaneous to that, we should have also been reaching out and trying to get the laboratory developed tests into the game and the manufacturers who have diagnostic capability. We’ve done that. You know, a couple weeks went by and they did that. And that is now in place. And those labs are going to be coming online. So we course corrected. I think what it teaches us, if you’re looking back, what is the teachable moment? It’s don’t take a linear approach to these crises, take an all of the above approach. And we need to do that now in a therapeutic. We- we can’t put all our eggs in the vaccine basket. We need to be looking at antibody based prophylaxis treatments, vaccines and all of the above approach. If case one doesn’t work out, we have other options.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you’d suggest that’s the conversation the president should have tomorrow with the pharmaceutical companies–

DR. GOTTLIEB: Tomorrow is the vaccine manufacturers.

MARGARET  BRENNAN: –when he brings those executives?

DR. GOTTLIEB: I think we need to look at the companies that- that can develop antibody based prophylaxis as well. We did that against Ebola. That is actually what we could potentially have for the fall- fall or a small molecule drug that’s currently on the shelf, trying to repurpose it for this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The NIH director, Anthony Fauci, a doctor, said that from what he’s seen, if you get infected, you likely won’t get reinfected. But there seems to be so much we don’t know. If someone has just sort of mild or moderate symptoms, how do they last? How do you know to go and get tested?

DR. GOTTLIEB: That’s the challenge here. You don’t. You know, there isn’t- the spectrum of disease here is very wide. A lot of people are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, but they shed virus and they’re still infected. They can still transfer the virus and a small percentage get very sick. And so, it’s probably the 80 percent that are mildly symptomatic or even asymptomatic that are the ones that are spreading it. The other thing is that people who get very sick, don’t get very sick right away. The time to hospitalization in- in different studies was nine to 12 days. So they start off with cold-like symptoms and then they progressively get more ill. And it’s in that phase that people are spreading it. There was a very interesting analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine about two weeks ago that looked at viral load and viral shedding across a spectrum of disease. And the people who are mildly symptomatic shed as much virus as the people who are very sick and that’s atypical. Typically, the amount of virus you have and shed to- in- in some diseases comports with how much- how much of virus you have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. Doctor, thank you very much for coming on and giving us–

DR. GOTTLIEB: Thanks a lot.

MARGARET BRENNAN: –your analysis. We’ll be back in a moment with a look at Super Tuesday and more.

Click below for the full CBS segment on COVID-19, including Dr. Gottlieb’s appearance.

[OPINION] Westport Mom: Boycott Stores That Promote Vaping

An alert — and concerned — “06880” reader writes:

The other day my daughters and I walked by the Merritt Country Store. The small shop sells food, candy, cigarettes, magazines, lottery tickets — and all kinds of vaping cartridges. The most well-known are Juuls.

We were on our way to Coffee An’, one of our favorite places in town. I noticed the bright, bold posters in the windows of the Merritt store. All but one advertised vaping. All are placed at children’s eye level.

Ads at the Merritt Country Store. The one on the left is for lottery tickets; all the others are for Juuls.

It reminded me of a great presentation that Dr. Ruth Potee gave recently at Staples High School about drug and alcohol use. She described the e-cigarette campaigns that companies utilize to advertise directly to kids.

They use bold, colorful print to draw attention to products in an effort to get kids attracted, and addicted, early.

There’s even a term for this generation of nicotine-addicted children: “Nic Kids.” There may be fewer smokers in this generation, but nicotine use via e-cigarettes or vaping, is clearly on the rise.

According to former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb — a Westport resident — 3.6 million teenagers (middle and high school students) vaped in 2017. That’s a 40% increase since 2011.

Companies market kid-appealing flavors, such as “fruity” vape cartridges (Juul) via online ads, and cool colorful posters in store windows where kids buy candy, gum and soda,

The federally mandated warnings tell one story. The colorful graphics and alluring text tell quite another.

Teenagers’ developing brains quickly become addicted to nicotine via e-cigarettes and other pod-based nicotine delivery systems. E-cigarette use affects brain development, lungs and future addictive behavior.

A new FDA report connects e-cig devices and vaping with seizures.

As the mother of 3 children, I speak openly about addiction and the undermining of their brains by means of these “ends” (electronic nicotine delivery systems).

I urge every adult to avoid patronizing any store that advertises these drugs to our kids. The only ones who benefit are the drug companies and the stores that advertise and sell their products.

Our kids pay the price.

Scott Gottlieb Resigns; One Less Westporter In Washington

Dr. Scott Gottlieb — commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and a strong critic of e-cigarettes and vaping — has resigned. A Westport resident with a background as a health policy analyst, he was appointed to the post 2 years ago by President Trump.

According to the New York Times, his wife and 3 children still live here. The paper said he was “weary of the commute and missed his family.”

However, the paper added, “he has also been subject to increasing pressure from Republicans in Congress and his former associates in the conservative movement for his tough stance against youth vaping and traditional cigarettes.”

The Washington Post noted, “While Gottlieb had some policy disagreements with the White House, he is well respected, and could be invited back to another post, two officials said….

“The move came as a surprise to some FDA officials because he has recently hired senior staff and was aggressively pushing a host of new initiatives.”

Gottlieb was the highest-ranking Westporter in Washington, following the resignation and subsequent move of FBI director James Comey.

When he was nominated to head the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s profile page proudly displayed a photo of Westport.

Westport’s FDA Head Hopes To Snuff Out Juuls

Westporter Dr. Scott Gottlieb was in the news on Wednesday.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration took aim at e-cigarettes. Targeting both manufacturers and sellers, he gave Juul and 4 other major makers 60 days to prove they can keep their wildly popular devices away from minors.

The FDA also warned 1,100 retailers and issued 131 fines for major corporations — including 7-Eleven and Walgreens — that sell e-cigarettes to people under 18.

The New York Times said Gottlieb’s “aggressive approach against private industry is unusual for an official in the business-friendly Trump administration which has sought to roll back numerous environmental and health regulations.”

But, it added, “critics said that his decision last summer to extend a deadline for e-cigarette manufacturers to demonstrate that their products comply with public health concerns helped perpetuate the the current problem.”

Gottlieb told the Times that “the immense popularity of vaping among teens and the growing addiction among young people was not something he foresaw last summer.”

Juul pods: empty (left) and full.

Regarding actions taken by Juul and other companies since then, he said, if they’d had the impact he intended, “I wouldn’t be viewing the statistics I’m now seeing.”

The Times quoted legal experts, who predicted a “protracted legal fight” over the FDA’s threats.

(To read the entire New York Times story, click here. For one Westport teenager’s story about his e-cigarette addiction, click here.)

Westporter In Trump Administration Gets High Marks

Dr. Scott Gottlieb — a Westport resident — serves as President Trump’s commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Yesterday, the New York Times assessed his tenure. The largely positive story begins:

Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, came to the job with a résumé straight out of the Trump administration’s playbook.

A millionaire with a libertarian bent, he made his money working for the industry he now regulates, and had investments in 20 health care companies whose products could come before the agency for approval. Pharmaceutical and medical device executives enthusiastically supported his nomination, while consumer and public health groups sounded the requisite alarms.

“Unprecedented financial entanglements,” complained Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, during his confirmation hearing.

Now, more than nine months after he was confirmed, Dr. Gottlieb has achieved something unusual among President Trump’s appointees: He has quieted some skeptics, while also managing to keep industry supporters content and the president on his side. He has done so by making moves to protect public health while also offering rewards to industry — double plays that have some willing to give him a second look.

Click here to read the full piece.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Westporter May Be Next HHS Secretary

The latest high-profile vacancy in Washington may be filled by a Westporter.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

The New York TimesMSNBC and other sources have mentioned Scott Gottlieb as a possible replacement for Tom Price. The Health and Human Services secretary resigned under pressure yesterday, after criticism for spending over $400,000 on private jet flights.

In March, President Trump nominated Dr. Gottlieb as director of the Food and Drug Administration. He previously served in that agency, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a respected health policy analyst.

Gottlieb was also a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine, and an internist at Tisch Hospital.

At the time of his appointment, there was speculation that his ties to the drug industry and his role at New Enterprise Associates — a large venture capital firm that invests heavily in medical technology and healthcare companies — might hurt his chances. However, he was confirmed easily.

Whether he is named to the cabinet post or not, Gottlieb is already the most powerful Westporter in Washington since James Comey, former head of the FBI.

Interestingly, Comey’s actions during the 2016 election may have been one of the reasons Trump was in a position to hire Price — and now, possibly, Gottlieb — at all.

When he was nominated to head the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s profile page proudly displayed a photo of Westport.

 

Westporter Moves One Step Closer To FDA Helm

As with so many things in Washington these days, today’s Senate committee hearing on the nomination of Westporter Scott Gottlieb as head of the Food and Drug Administration was either a spectacular success — or another stumble.

It all depends on whose news you believe.

NBC’s report — posted at 11:56 a.m. — was headlined “Opponents of FDA Nominee Scott Gottlieb Invoke Opioid Crisis.” High up in the story was this:

Gottlieb is a Washington fixture, with a medical degree, experience at the FDA and in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is a fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and a respected health policy analyst.

But his critics cite his ties to the drug industry and his role at New Enterprise Associates, which bills itself as the world’s largest venture capital firm. It invests heavily in medical technology and healthcare companies.

They seized on the opioid crisis as Gottlieb’s potential weak spot.

“Trump’s nominee to be the next FDA commissioner, Dr. Gottlieb, is entangled in an unprecedented web of close financial and business ties to the pharmaceutical industry and was no doubt chosen because he is well-suited to carry out the president’s reckless, ill-informed vision for deregulating the FDA’s review and approval process for prescription medications, including opioids,” Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told reporters on a conference call.

“Dr. Gottlieb has had a cozy relationship with big drug companies for decades,” added Sherrod Brown, a Democratic senator from Ohio. “He has supported allowing those same companies to rush their drugs — including potentially addictive opioid painkillers — onto the market before we’re sure that they’re safe,” Brown added.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

At 2:55 p.m., MarketWatch announced: “Scott Gottlieb sailed through his FDA commissioner hearing.” Its reprint of a Wall Street Journal story said:

Scott Gottlieb, President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Food and Drug Administration, emphasized in his confirmation hearing Wednesday his belief “in the gold standard of safety and efficacy” at the agency and said he hopes to expand approvals of generic drugs to lower U.S. prices.

Dr. Gottlieb, who was nominated in March, said he sees the need for new laws and FDA regulatory action to get complex-formulation drugs—like those used topically or with inhalers—more quickly approved as lower-cost generics. While he also said there are ways to speed up some clinical trials, “I think there are ways to modernize clinical studies without sacrificing the gold standard.”

His comments appeared aimed at reassuring Democrats, who have been critical of the nomination because of Dr. Gottlieb’s extensive financial ties to drug makers and his prolific, often conservative writings in which he has been critical FDA regulation, often saying the agency should move faster.

The tension between speed and a focus on safety has been at the center of political debates over the FDA’s future. That has especially been the case under the Trump Administration, since the president has said the FDA takes too long in approving drugs and medical devices.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb has over 36,000 Twitter followers. His profile page proudly displays a photo of Westport.

In addition to his work as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Gottlieb is a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine, and an internist at Tisch Hospital.

Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Lamar Alexander lavishly praised Gottlieb. A Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, he also has the support of groups like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which he serves as an adviser.

A vote on Gottlieb’s nomination is expected later this month. If confirmed, he will be the 2nd-highest-ranking Westporter in Washington — or 1st, now that FBI director James Comey’s house is on the market. is the highest-ranking Westport in Washington, now that James Comey has left town.

FDA headquarters — Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s probable next home.

(Hat tip: Luke Hammerman)