COVID19 ๐Ÿฆ  Newsbites
Americans have converted to mask culture, survey finds
Most Americans now accept the benefits of wearing masks when around others and say they do so, according to a survey published Friday.

Most also say they can keep up the social distancing until the pandemic has eased or until there’s a vaccine -- and most think they’ll need to.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey found that just over half think the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come.

The survey of more than 1,600 adults, conducted by the nonpartisan foundation, found that deep partisan divides persist, but more people than ever worry the pandemic will affect them personally.

“Republican denialism mirroring President Trump, even in the face of a growing epidemic in red states, has become a real public health challenge that the incoming administration will need to take on,” Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said in a statement.

Swedish King criticizes country's Covid-19 response as new cases rise at record pace
Sweden’s King has condemned the country’s government response to the Covid-19 pandemic on a day when new cases hit a record number.

"I believe we have failed. We have a large number who have died and that is terrible. It’s something we all share the suffering from," King Carl XVI Gustaf said in a Christmas interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT.

It’s criticism that comes with Prime Minister Stefan Lรถfven under scrutiny for his coronavirus policy as new cases surge.

Swedish state broadcaster (SVT) reported an all-time high of Covid-19 patients in hospital this week and some ICUs are reported to be at capacity.

On Tuesday, Lรถfven acknowledged his strategy of achieving herd immunity had failed. “It is proof that it is a virus that we did not know about before and that behaves in a way that many would not have thought,” he said.

No lockdown for Sweden: The country never went into a lockdown during the first wave and was well into the second when voluntary precautions were recommended at the regional level.

... On Thursday there were 8,815 new Covid-18 cases -- the highest number recorded in a 24 hour period since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Swedish Health Agency data, marking an increase of more than 2,000 cases from last week. Sweden has had 7,893 deaths from the virus, more per capita than other Scandinavian countries.

Seoul city apologizes after man with Covid-19 dies while waiting for hospital bed
The local government of the South Korean capital Seoul has apologized after a man in his 60s with Covid-19 died while waiting for a hospital bed, as the city faced a shortage.

The deceased man had tested positive for Covid-19 on December 12 after his wife tested positive the previous day. He had reported mild symptoms, which included an itchy throat, Seoul's Dongdaemun district office said.

... Because the man had only reported mild symptoms, he "was low in priority," the district office added.

A bed was requested for the man on December 12, but not received. Two days later on December 14, he reported having phlegm mixed with blood.

The district office then requested a hospital bed and later repeated the request with the city. While waiting for the bed, the man died in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

In a briefing Friday, the Health Ministry announced the greater Seoul area now has four available intensive care unit beds dedicated to Covid-19 patients and is working with private sector hospitals to add more beds, which will "expand quickly by end of year."

Trump fights for a job that he's not doing as coronavirus rages
Trump ran for president pretending he was the consummate dealmaker, the chief executive who could make things happen with a snap of his fingers. He will go down in history as a president who worsened the grief and tragedy of the most consequential pandemic in 100 years by being contemptuous of masks and the safety precautions designed by his own administration -- a man incapable of empathy, who chose to remain cocooned in his White House bubble at a time when leadership would have mattered.

For weeks now, Trump has spent most of his time plotting how to nullify the results of President-elect Joe Biden's November victory as he has fleeced his supporters to pay for a string of ill-conceived lawsuits that were tossed out of court by some of his own judicial appointees. When those efforts failed, he began looking ahead to January 6 when a joint session of Congress meets to formally count the Electoral College results -- seeing another opportunity to try and thwart the democratic process.

... Perhaps most baffling about Trump's disappearance, he has stayed out of the public eye when he could have taken a victory lap following the US Food and Drug Administration's historic authorization of the first Covid-19 vaccine -- despite his previous insistence that he should get all the credit for the vaccines because of his effort to push the companies developing them harder than they'd ever been pushed before.

But if he emerged to herald the vaccine, he would have also had to acknowledge the suffering afflicting America, both from illness and economic hardship, which he knows will reflect poorly on his legacy. The US now has more than 17 million Covid-19 cases and the daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States is nearing 250,000. Trump has also lost his primary talking point about how the economy is coming roaring back: Jobless claims released Thursday showed that 885,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week.

... The President, who contracted coronavirus in early October, won't get the vaccine until it's recommended by the White House medical team, a White House official told CNN.

But as the nation plunges deeper into this critical fight against Covid, he continues to be missing in action, content to let the gears of government function without him.

Trump explicitly rejected leading the US vaccine drive and is letting Mike Pence and Congressional leaders do it instead
  • President Donald Trump declined to lead efforts to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, The Associated Press reported.
  • The president's aides wanted him to embark on trips thanking essential workers and boosting trust in the vaccine, but he passed.
  • Vice President Mike Pence will instead be the center of attention. He is due to be vaccinated live on TV at 8 a.m. ET on Friday.
  • Trump has indicated he will take the vaccine, but has not set a date or said whether he will do it in public.
Dr. Vinay Gupta, an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Washington, told The Times that Trump is in no danger from the vaccine and there is "no scientific reason not to get vaccinated."

... Lawrence Gostin, a public health professor of at Georgetown Law told the AP: "It will be enormously damaging to public trust in the vaccine if President Trump isn't visibly enthusiastic, including getting his shot on national television."

"It simply isn't good enough to have Vice President Pence as a proxy."