Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
White House lists ending Covid-19 pandemic as an accomplishment despite cases spiking to record levels
The White House included ending the coronavirus pandemic on a list of the Trump administration's science and technology accomplishments, despite nearly half a million Americans tested positive for Covid-19 in just the last week.

A White House Office of Science and Technology Policy news release made the claim in announcing a document highlighting the administration's science and technology achievements over the past four years.

"Highlights include: ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC," the news release sent to reporters read. "From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease."

The news release comes as the country reports the largest number of daily cases seen to date. The seven-day average of daily new cases reached an all-time high of 68,767 on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The previous record of 67,293 was set July 22.

The President has repeatedly, falsely, blamed the increase in cases on an increase in testing.

New cases are also being seen within the administration itself. At least five aides to Vice President Mike Pence, including his bodyman and his chief of staff, Marc Short, tested positive for coronavirus in recent days, sources told CNN.

When asked for comment on including ending the pandemic among the administration's first term accomplishments, office spokeswoman Kristina Baum pointed to the full report.

"The great work the Trump Administration is doing to end the pandemic is a top priority and worthy of highlighting," she said in an email.

The internal report that the news release was describing did not say that the Covid-19 pandemic is over. It merely touted the administration's various actions to fight it.

"Since the start of the pandemic, the Administration has taken several actions to engage scientists in academia, industry, and government to understand and defeat this disease," the report says.

It later states that the administration's vaccine initiative "Operation Warp Speed, public-private partnerships, and other decisive actions taken by the Trump Administration have provided American scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals with the knowledge, tools, and technologies needed to understand and defeat this 'invisible enemy.' "

White House COVID-19 task force officials reportedly took personal offense to a Trump admin report that lists 'ending the COVID-19 pandemic' as one of Trump's major first term accomplishments
  • Health officials and scientists working on the US coronavirus response took offense to a White House report claiming "ending the COVID-19 pandemic" is one of Trump's major first term accomplishments, The Daily Beast reported Tuesday.
  • The report by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy included "ending the COVID-19 pandemic" and "understanding our planet" as the president's accomplishments in science and technology.
  • "From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease," according to a press release of the report.
  • Members of the White House coronavirus task force told The Daily Beast that the report seemed to imply blatant disregard for their work in the ongoing pandemic, as hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to get infected and die from the virus.
  • As of Wednesday, the US reported nearly 9 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, and the death toll in the country surpassed 227,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • The US is also reporting an average of 59,000 infections per day, with an increase in hospitalizations in a number of states, according to a report by Axios.
  • "The White House is operating on a completely different speed than the rest of the health agencies," one senior administration official told The Daily Beast. "They've all but given up on the idea that there is more to do in terms of getting a handle on these new cases that are popping up."
  • "The rest of us still view the threat of those cases as the top concern," the official continued.

Trump makes frenetic election push in states that highlight his Covid denial
President Donald Trump's final sprint to shore up states he won four years ago led him Tuesday into the epicenter of America's quickening viral surge in Wisconsin, as the state's record single day spikes in Covid-19 cases and deaths crystalized his administration's failures that could end his political career.

A week from the night when America could learn the identity of its next President -- depending on prolonged mail-in voting counts and possible legal challenges -- Trump greeted a crowd, packed together, with few masks worn. He did so as Badger State hospitals are critically understaffed and facing the threat of being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients. But on a chill fall night, the President wove an alternative reality he bets will win him reelection.

Trump's three-state swing Tuesday -- he also visited Michigan and Nebraska -- reflected the sleight of hand he's using a week from Election Day, creating a false impression that the pandemic is all but over as it gets worse each day.

"We are turning the corner. We are rounding the curve, we will vanquish the virus," Trump said in West Salem, Wisconsin, as the US piles up record numbers of new infections that have added half a million new cases in the last week alone. More than 226,000 Americans have died. The current death rate is 800 per day, and experts warn the trend is only increasing ahead of a grim winter.

But in his closing election pitch, Trump is denying the disastrous impact of the gravest challenge facing the country, holding potential superspreader events that put his own supporters and anyone they meet at risk and yet again prioritizing his political survival above his duty to guard public health.

While Trump complained in Wisconsin that all the media talks about is "Covid, Covid, Covid," the state's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers warned Tuesday: "There is no way to sugarcoat it, we are facing an urgent crisis and there is an imminent risk to you and your family."

... If Trump wins next week in another upset, it will suggest that enough voters think his cultural connection with the US heartland and nationalist approach is more important than his downplaying of the worst domestic crisis since World War II and his daily flurry of lies. He will have made good on his vow to find millions of new Trump voters who escaped pollsters. Still, there is so far no sign in national or state polls that the President is building the kind of late momentum that drove his shock win over Hillary Clinton.

France and Germany enact sweeping restrictions to curb rises in cases and hospitalizations.
France announced a nationwide lockdown until Dec. 1, with just schools and essential businesses allowed to stay open. Germany moved very close to one, closing restaurants, gyms and museums for one month, but exempting schools and shops — “lockdown lite,” as the Germans called it.

... But as hospitals fill at an alarming rate, doctors and medical experts say the closures are necessary. In Germany, the number of patients in hospitals has doubled in the past 10 days, and in France, the health care system was two weeks away from reaching the same number of hospitalizations as the peak of the first wave.

... The heated debate over new restrictions is playing out across Europe. Here’s a look at what’s happening across the rest of the continent:

Portugal made it compulsory for residents to wear a mask outdoors wherever social distancing cannot be guaranteed. The measure, which applies to people age 10 and up, came into force a day after the country registered its second-highest daily rise in cases since the start of the pandemic.

Belgium, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union, now has one of the highest per capita rates of new cases in the world. The Czech Republic, with similar per capita rates, also imposed a nationwide curfew. Stores, schools and restaurants were closed, while masks were made mandatory in all public places.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also facing calls for a new national lockdown.


How America Helped Defeat the Coronavirus*
*Just not in the United States.
We’ve all heard how U.S. leadership failed its citizens with its pandemic response. We had the playbooks, we had the money, we had the experts. We just … didn’t use them.

But it turns out, other countries did. Because U.S. public health leaders and scientists have been planning for a catastrophe just like Covid-19 for decades, and, in typical American fashion, we didn’t just write the pandemic playbook — we exported it around the world.

In this video, we went searching for evidence that the public health innovations and scientific progress this country is famous for are still alive and well. Our journey to find lifesaving American initiatives introduced us to some interesting people: from a virus hunter in the bat caves in Thailand to a group of South Korean epidemiologists who just might have predicted this pandemic.

What we found doesn’t change the fact that more than 220,000 Americans have died from Covid-19, but it sheds light on a part of the U.S. pandemic response that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention: that America’s decades of pandemic planning actually did save lives. Just not at home.

After a Dampened Celebration, Enduring Glory Still Awaits the Dodgers
The day after the Los Angeles Dodgers won their first World Series in 32 years, the talk was not so much about the team’s victory as about its handling of the coronavirus.

The Dodgers got the news that third baseman Justin Turner had tested positive in the seventh inning, the team’s president of baseball operations said, at which point he was removed from the game.

But after the team won, the red-bearded Turner emerged onto the field, appearing with, and at times without, a mask, as in the victory photo above. The positive test raised questions about the handling of the situation by both M.L.B. and the Dodgers.