COVID-19 Cases Surge Again


Stephanie Wang, Staff Writer

The U.S. just had its worst day of the pandemic, reporting 184,514 new COVID-19 cases on Nov. 13, smashing its record for the number of daily reported cases since the pandemic began. 1,431 deaths were reported on Friday, making it day four of its record-breaking streak for new cases, as per Johns Hopkins University. As of Friday, there were also 68,516 hospitalizations nationwide, up a whopping 20.01% from the number of hospitalizations a week before.

19 statesArkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyominghad a record number of cases, and Texas and California both surpassed 1 million cases a few days earlier. The Kaiser Family Foundation has designated 49 states (all states except for Hawaii) and Washington, D.C. as coronavirus hotspots, or places where transmission of the virus was out of control.

The White House hasn’t been faring any better, either, and has been hit by another coronavirus outbreak. In the wake of outgoing President Trump’s flurry of campaigns in his final sprint of the 2020 presidential election, more than 130 Secret Service agents, or roughly 10% of the Secret Service’s core security team, have been ordered to isolate or quarantine due to coronavirus exposure. Additionally, many other White House staffers and officials have contracted the virus, with several cases linked to a potential superspreader event: an election night party held indoors in the East Room. These include Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, chief of staff Mark Meadows, political director Brian Jack, Trump campaign official David Bossie, and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s guest Healy Baumgardner. Other members of Trump’s inner circle, such as campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski, political affairs director Brian Jack, and Republican National Committee chief of staff Richard Walters have also recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

Despite the numerous coronavirus crises in every corner of the country, the White House has still yet to take any decisive action towards containing the virus, and instead, has been more fixated on making personnel changes and disputing election results. The president’s recent firing of several high-ranking Pentagon officials in particular has raised concerns that he could do the same with health officials who have been critical in the fight against the COVID-19, including Coronavirus Task Force members Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, both of whom he’s feuded with and threatened to remove. Dr. Fauci in particular has been the target of many pro-Trump figures for his frequent criticism of the White House’s inconsistency when dealing with the pandemic; former Trump advisor Steve Bannon called for “Anthony Fauci’s head on a pike” in a recent episode of his podcast “War Room: Pandemic.” 

Perhaps even more troubling to some is Trump’s refusal to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, especially because Biden’s team, which already includes a transition team and coronavirus task force, has been barred from receiving briefings from the White House or any executive branch agencies. Without a smooth transition and mutual understanding and cooperation between the President-elect and the White House, it’s uncertain how well-equipped the new White House come Jan. 20, 2021 will be to deal with the pandemic, which will surely continue to be a problem.

“Part of the challenge is that unfortunately the current administration has not been cooperating with the transition team by sharing information, sharing plans,” Dr. Celine Gounder, a Biden Transition COVID-19 Board member, remarked to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “And this is essentially a national security threat, the way that Americans are getting infected and sickened by coronavirus, dying from coronavirus, and how the economy is being impacted by the coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, without adequate support from the federal government, state and local officials have been scrambling to find ways to respond to the recent surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths. Numerous governors have announced the enactment of stricter lockdown measures, including establishing a curfew, requiring mask-wearing, banning gatherings, and shutting down schools and businesses.

Along with Pfizer, which made headlines earlier this week for their vaccine being shown to be 90% effective against the coronavirus during trials, Moderna, another pharmaceutical company, has also applied to the FDA for emergency use authorization of their vaccine. Although vaccine development has been cited optimistically as a means to the end of the pandemic, the timeline until mass distribution of the vaccine still stretches quite fareven assuming that the vaccine works effectively, it could take months for regulators to review the data for approval, and even longer for companies to mass-manufacture and mass-distribute vaccine doses.

President Trump himself stated in a Rose Garden news conference on Friday that a COVID-19 vaccine would be widely available as soon as April, which is still a good few months in the future. In this grace period between a coronavirus crisis scenario unfolding and a vaccine being available, it’s crucial that Americans continue to stay on high alert and abide by lockdown and mask-wearing measures, even with the promise of a vaccine in the near future, as CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner stated.

“Help is not on the way. A vaccine will take a couple of months to really make an impact,” he noted. “If you’re having a heart attack and you call 911 and I tell you that the ambulance is coming two months from now, that should offer you no comfort.”


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