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Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday ousted its top spokesperson, Emily Miller, after less than two weeks on the job, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: Miller's removal comes amid disagreements over the FDA's communication strategy and controversy surrounding its emergency use authorization of convalescent blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment.

  • "Effectively immediately, Emily Miller will no longer serve the FDA as the assistant commissioner for media affairs and will no longer be the official spokesperson for the agency. I will appoint someone to an acting role in that position in the interim," according to a memo from FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, obtained by Politico.

The big picture: Scientists and public health experts were up in arms after Hahn inflated the effectiveness of blood plasma as a COVID-19 treatment.

  • Hahn owned up to a mistake while also addressing bigger-picture concerns about the FDA's political independence.

Worth noting: On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services ended the contract of Wayne L Pines, a public relations consultant who had advised Hahn to correct the misleading information on convalescent plasma.

  • HHS told the Times that the termination of Pines' contract had nothing to do with the FDA's plasma messaging. It was "100 percent coincidence," Brian Harrison, the department’s chief of staff, said.

What's next: It's unclear whether Miller, a former reporter for One America News, will leave the administration completely or be reassigned elsewhere.

Go deeper

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Southern California, San Joaquin Valley face new stay-at-home order

A sign in Los Angeles. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Southern California's ICU capacity fell to 12.5% and San Joaquin Valley's to 8.6% on Saturday, triggering the state's new stay-at-home order in the two regions.

Driving the news: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity.

Nov 20, 2020 - Health

Toronto, Peel placed under lockdown as COVID cases soar across Canada

A medical worker walks outside a COVID-19 assessment center in Toronto, Canada. Photo: Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Ontario officials announced new coronavirus lockdown measures for Toronto and Peel Region on Friday, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged all residents to stay home, saying COVID-19 "cases across the country are spiking massively."

Why it matters: Canadian officials predict that by end of the month, the death toll from COVID-19 could be between 11,870 and 12,120, with the country's total cases between 366,500 and 378,600, Reuters reports. Canada has recorded 315,751 cases and 11,265 deaths since the pandemic began.