November 25, 2020

US sees record 184,000 new daily Covid cases as Trump politicises vaccine effort – The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/14/us-record-184000-new-covid-cases-trump-vaccine-biden

The US set yet another daily record for new coronavirus cases on Friday, topping 184,000, while Donald Trump promised imminent distribution of a vaccine – except to New York, which he threatened to leave out for political reasons – and the president-elect, Joe Biden, pleaded with Americans to follow basic mitigation measures.

According to Johns Hopkins University, 184,514 new cases were recorded on Friday, up from 153,496 on Thursday. More than 10.7 million cases have been recorded in total and more than 244,000 people have died. Deaths are also increasing: 1,431 were reported on Friday, the highest toll in 1o days if more than a thousand less than the highest such toll, from April.

At the White House, in his first remarks since losing the election to Biden, Trump said he expected a vaccine developed by Pfizer to receive emergency use authorisation “extremely soon”, and to be available to the general population by April.

He also said the federal government would not deliver the vaccine to New York, because its governor, Andrew Cuomo, “doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from”. Trump and Cuomo have clashed frequently during the pandemic.

Cuomo told MSNBC: “None of what he said is true, surprise surprise. We’re all excited about the possibilities about a vaccine.”

Trump also took a shot at Pfizer, saying its statement that it was not part of Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine effort, was “an unfortunate misrepresentation”. Pfizer did not receive support for research or manufacturing of the vaccine, but has agreed to sell its vaccine to the federal government. A spokeswoman said the company was proud to be part of Operation Warp Speed “as a supplier of a potential Covid-19 vaccine”.

If Trump’s timeline for the Pfizer vaccine holds, he will be out of power by the time it is distributed to the general population. Trump has not conceded defeat to Biden and is mounting legal challenges to results in battleground states. But he has little to no chance of success and Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president in Washington on 20 January.

Preparing for government from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden has named his own Covid taskforce. On Friday one member, Dr Celine Grounder, alluded to delays in providing national security briefings to Biden caused by Trump’s refusal to concede when she told CNN the virus was now “essentially a national security threat [because] Americans are getting infected and sickened by coronavirus, dying from coronavirus, and how the economy is being impacted by the coronavirus.”

Shortly before Trump spoke, Biden issued a statement with a conspicuously presidential tone.

“The crisis does not respect dates on the calendar,” he said. “It is accelerating right now.

“I renew my call for every American, regardless of where they live or who they voted for, to step up and do their part on social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing.”

With winter closing in, socialising moving indoors and case numbers reaching levels regularly warned of by Dr Anthony Fauci, a widely trusted public health expert with whom Trump has regularly clashed, states across the Republican midwest are struggling badly. Hospital resources are stretched and governors have appealed for help.

“It’s on fire,” Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, told the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve never seen anything like this. Our spring surge and summer surge were nowhere like this.”

Another Republican, Doug Bergum of North Dakota, ordered a statewide mask mandate and imposed business restrictions. In Nevada, Democratic governor Steve Sisolak has tested positive.

Elsewhere, the governors of New Mexico and Oregon have ordered strict social limitations. Imposing a two-week stay-at-home order, Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, said: “We are in a life-or-death situation, and if we don’t act right now, we cannot preserve the lives, we can’t keep saving lives, and we will absolutely crush our current healthcare system and infrastructure.


Donald Trump comes close to admitting defeat but stops short – video

On the east coast, New York could close public schools on Monday while Ned Lamont, the governor of Connecticut, has entered quarantine after an aide tested positive.

On the national stage, Trump said: “Ideally we won’t go to a lockdown. I will not go – this administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the – whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration will be.

“I guess time will tell. But I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”

Biden has promised to follow advice from scientists about new social restrictions, although he walked back an initial statement that he would go back into widespread lockdown if so advised. He supports a national mask mandate.

Several dozen US Secret Service agents have contracted the virus, likely as a result of staffing events at the White House and on the campaign trail at which mitigation measures were not enforced. Trump, members of his family, cabinet members and senior aides and top Republicans have tested positive. In September, the president spent three days in the hospital.

One scientific model predicts more than 400,000 deaths by March. Two weeks ago, in an interview with the Washington Post, Fauci warned of a winter of more than 100,000 new cases a day and said the country was in for “a whole lot of hurt”. Now, US has recorded more than 100,000 cases a day for 10 days running.