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The US recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus cases for a fifth day in a row on Sunday, as total cases neared 10m and the death toll passed 237,000.
At the same time, Joe Biden named the members of his own Covid taskforce and planned to meet with the 12-person panel.
Some counts put the caseload over 10m but according to data from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, 105,927 new cases on Sunday brought the total to 9,963,207. The daily case number was down from record highs on Friday and Saturday. The death toll stood at 237,399.
But with cases holding over 100,000 a day, public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci’s now infamous warning earlier this month still rings true.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told the Washington Post.
“It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”
Deaths are also expected to rise steeply. “The next two months are going to be rough, difficult ones,” Dr Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist and department chairman at the Yale School of Public Health, told the Associated Press. “We could see another 100,000 deaths by January.”
During the presidential election, Donald Trump repeatedly insisted the US was “rounding the corner” and refused to enforce mitigation measures at the White House and campaign events. The president, members of his family, senior White House and campaign aides and top Republicans in Congress have contracted the virus.
States across the US are struggling with rising case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths, putting pressure on health systems already subject to major strain.
On Sunday the Republican governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, declared a new state of emergency.
“Due to the alarming rate of Covid infections within our state, tonight I issued a new state of emergency with several critical changes to our response,” Herbert said. “These changes are not shutting down our economy, but are absolutely necessary to save lives and hospital capacity.”
The governor said the entire state was being placed under a mask mandate until further notice and casual social gatherings were being limited to household-only for the next two weeks. All extracurricular activities were being put on hold, he said.
Utah has had 132,621 total confirmed cases and 659 deaths from Covid-19.
Fauci and other leading experts have described how the work of the White House coronavirus taskforce has stuttered and dwindled. On Sunday, the day after his victory over Trump was called, Biden made his first two appointments to his own panel of Covid advisers. Former surgeon general Dr Vivek Murthy and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr David Kessler will serve as co-chairs.
Other names on the panel, announced Monday, include Rick Bright, a scientist and Trump critic who quit the government in October; the surgeon and New Yorker writer Atul Gawande; bioethicist and former Obama aide Zeke Emanuel; Luciana Borio, FDA acting chief scientist and National Security Council member under Trump; and Michelle Osterholm, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Minnesota.
Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York, said he believed “the political pressure of denying Covid is gone” now Trump has been defeated. Cuomo clashed often with Trump in the early days of the pandemic, when New York was hit hard.
“I think you’ll see scientists speak with an unmuzzled voice now,” Cuomo told ABC’s This Week. “And I think the numbers are going to go up, and Americans are going to get how serious this is.”
A leading Democrat expected to be named to Biden’s cabinet said there was “a sense of urgency throughout” the president-elect’s team.
“We know that every day is bringing more loss, more pain and more danger to the American people,” Pete Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana and candidate for the Democratic nomination, told Fox News Sunday.
“And it’s why he’s not waiting until he’s taking office to begin immediately assembling people who have the right kind of expertise and planning to actually listen to them.”
That said, Biden’s transition team will be limited in what it can do before taking power, particularly as Trump refuses to concede defeat. A presidential appointee who controls when funding for the transition will be released has as yet refused to act.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: US coronavirus cases near 10m with fears of more deaths as weather cools | World news