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Analysis: A leaderless America slips deep into a grim pandemic winter

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The darkest vacation season in fashionable historical past beckons, but President Donald Trump and his closest aides, sulking after his election defeat, are doing little to avoid wasting lives, aside from claiming credit for a vaccine that represents a means out of the nightmare of 2020 however stays months away for many People.

However even a President-elect who guarantees to exchange Trump’s neglect with a science-based strategy to the pandemic can solely achieve this a lot earlier than he takes workplace on January 20, when the well being disaster and financial toll are prone to be far worse.

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The present President spent Sunday firing off delusional new claims to bolster his fantasy that the election was stolen, which did nothing to advance his inept authorized instances however additional poisoned hopes of nationwide unity when he is gone.

Against this, prime authorities well being consultants blanketed Sunday discuss exhibits, warning of an alarming post-Thanksgiving rise in Covid instances, overwhelmed hospitals and exhausted well being employees and pleaded with a rustic beset by pandemic fatigue to mitigate the ache and dying for a number of extra months.
“It is a actually harmful time,” authorities testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir mentioned on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

Biden waits within the wings

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Developments over the Thanksgiving weekend mirrored a juxtaposition between an incoming President who’s gearing as much as sort out a staggering nationwide disaster and a sitting commander-in-chief who retains his authority however is pursuing baseless claims over election fraud that can complicate the duty of his successor.

It was left to the heads of presidency well being companies, a few of whom have been successfully muzzled by the President forward of the election, to muster nationwide resolve.

Since Biden has little capability to restrict the explosion in Covid-19 instances, his most crucial preliminary process might be to preside over the distribution of a vaccine developed by personal corporations in coordination with the present White Home.

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Giroir, the assistant secretary for well being, mentioned on “State of the Union” that he was “actually” assured within the plan to distribute the vaccine, forward of Meals and Drug Administration conferences within the coming weeks to think about an emergency use authorization. Highest danger teams, together with well being employees and aged folks dwelling in assisted dwelling amenities, might begin getting injections earlier than the tip of the 12 months. A decision is expected after a December 10 assembly of an FDA committee however it might be late spring earlier than most People see a vaccine — or the double pictures that some require.

Giroir’s confidence is encouraging. But it surely have to be seen as one other upbeat evaluation from an administration that has made repeated optimistic assessments on the availability of protecting gear for front-line employees, falling dying charges, increasing testing and forecasts about hospital occupancy which have all confirmed to be empty.

Dr. Megan Ranney, a Brown College emergency doctor who has been treating Covid sufferers, mentioned Sunday that political failures had brewed a catastrophe within the nation’s hospitals.

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“We’ve got been speaking for months in regards to the want for elevated provides of private protecting gear, in regards to the want for elevated testing provides, we nonetheless desperately want these,” Ranney mentioned on CNN “Newsroom.”

“However even when these have been all out there, the difficulty is that the surge in Covid-19 sufferers proper now could be so nice, it’s overwhelming hospitals, it’s overwhelming out there beds and worst of all, it’s overwhelming the variety of out there employees.”

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Grim warnings from prime well being officers

The unity of messaging from authorities well being consultants over the weekend was exceptional and ominous — and solely emphasised the silence of Trump, who has repeatedly lied in regards to the US “rounding the nook” on the disaster, or Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White Home coronavirus process power.

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Giroir informed CNN’s Dana Bash that he was “very involved” about excessive ranges of Thanksgiving journey and requested People to keep away from excessive danger areas like bars and different indoors areas.

America’s prime infectious ailments specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned of a possible “surge superimposed upon that surge that we’re already in” heading into December.

“We’re getting into into what actually is a precarious state of affairs as a result of we’re in the course of a steep slope,” Fauci mentioned on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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US Surgeon General Jerome Adams pleaded with People to stay to masks sporting and social distancing.

“I wish to be straight with the American folks, it is going to worsen over the following a number of weeks,” he mentioned on Fox Information Sunday. “The actions that we take within the subsequent a number of days will decide how dangerous it’s or whether or not or not we proceed to flatten our curve.”

And one other senior member of the White Home coronavirus process power, Dr. Deborah Birx, who mentioned she hopes to start briefing Biden’s crew this week after a transition delayed by the President, mentioned individuals who traveled for the vacation ought to get examined and keep away from weak relations.

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“To each American, that is the second to guard your self and your loved ones,” Birx mentioned on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Strain mounts on Congress to avert financial devastation

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With the President absent, it should fall to governors and mayors to select up the mantle of management once more. However a flurry of latest restrictions on public gatherings and restrictions on eating places is prone to additional injury an economic system that has been hammered by the pandemic.

So stress is rising on Congress to interrupt out of its partisan stasis and provide extra assist to hundreds of thousands of People who’re out of labor due to the pandemic.

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Lawmakers will return to Washington after the vacation this week after months of the 2 chambers failing to go a brand new and mixed Covid-19 support bundle. The prospects for progress nonetheless look grim with a funding deal wanted to avert a partial authorities shutdown by December 11. Previously, nonetheless, such deadlines have typically spurred a modicum of political cowl that enables incremental offers. Nonetheless, a extra complete pandemic bundle could need to await the arrival of the brand new President in January. However the actuality of divided energy in Washington — pending two runoffs in Georgia that can resolve management of the Senate — and the probability that Senate Republicans will rediscover their price range hawk instincts with a Democrat within the White Home, solely add to Biden’s big issues. There may be additionally concern that the failure of Congress to behave will hamper the power of states to coach employees and successfully distribute a number of vaccine candidates.

Biden, who can have additional conferences together with his transition crew this week and is lastly attributable to obtain the President’s Every day Temporary, is urgent forward with constructing out his White Home crew.

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On Sunday, he named an all-female White House messaging operation, which can embrace former Obama White Home communications director Jen Psaki, a former CNN political commentator, returning to the White Home as press secretary and Kate Bedingfield, a prime marketing campaign official, as the brand new West Wing’s communications director.
The President-elect can be expected to make official the nomination of former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to be the primary lady to function Treasury secretary. If confirmed, Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo — Biden’s decide for deputy Treasury secretary — could be the primary Black particular person to carry that highly effective place.
Biden is anticipated to construct out his various financial crew with Neera Tanden, who could be the primary lady of shade to steer the Workplace of Administration and Price range. Tanden, the chief government of the Heart for American Progress, is a controversial determine amongst some progressives after working as a marketing campaign aide to Hillary Clinton in her 2016 battle for the nomination in opposition to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Biden can be poised to name Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton economist, to steer the Council of Financial Advisers, elevating one other Black lady in a high-profile position within the incoming administration.
Whereas Biden was constructing a brand new administration, Trump spent the weekend enjoying golf, and at Camp David whereas launching contemporary, spurious claims about election fraud. He claimed there was “super dishonest” by Democrats in a Fox Enterprise interview that featured almost no pushback from sympathetic anchor Maria Bartiromo.

Offering no proof for his lies in regards to the “best fraud within the historical past of our nation,” the President extra importantly supplied no solutions or accountability for the testing days forward within the worst home disaster to afflict the nation since World Warfare II.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny contributed to this story.

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