Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks at a White House briefing on the Coronavirus pandemic, November 19, 2020 (Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock)
UPDATE, NOV. 21:
The US recorded another 1,858 Coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking the total to 254,413.
There was yet another daily record with 192,959 cases, raising the total confirmed infections to 11,910,906.
Donald Trump’s son Donald Jr. (pictured) has tested positive and has been isolating since Monday, a Trump spokesman said Friday.
Trump Jr. is the latest case from a White House “super-spreader” event, possibly the gathering on Election Night.
Andrew Giuliani, the son of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, tested positive after attending presentations and preparation sessions by his father and other Trump lawyers.
The revelation led to the cancellation of the Trump attorneys’ presence at a Friday meeting between Trump and Michigan legislators, as Trump hoped to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, NOV. 20: Speaking for the first time at a White House briefing since July, Dr. Anthony Fauci says, “The cavalry is on the way” to check the Coronavirus pandemic, and urges Americans to support containment measures.
But Donald Trump and his advisors continue to block an effective national effort, opposing those measures and refusing a transition with the incoming Biden Administration.
The US death toll reached 252,555 on Thursday, with 2,070 deaths — the highest daily total since mid-April — in 24 hours.
Confirmed cases are 11,717,947, a record daily increase of 190,507. The virus is in “uncontrollable spread” in 47 of 50 states.
“Help Is On The Way”
Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Task Force coordinator, have been ostracized by Donald Trump, who has not been at a Task Force meeting in almost six months. Vice President Mike Pence, the chair, did not attend for almost two months before the November 3 election.
But on Thursday, Pence was joined on the podium by Fauci and Birx. There was no sign of Trump or his medical confidante, the neuroradiologist and Fox TV commentator Scott Atlas.
Fauci and Birx have warned of a “dark winter”. With no action by the Trump Administration, State governors have been implementing mask mandates; closures of restaurants, bars, and other public spaces; and curfews.
But Fauci noted the “extraordinarily impressive” results in vaccine trials by the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, with more than 90% efficacy: “This is really solid.”
We now…are telling you that help is on the way, which has two aspects to it. It means that we need to actually double down on the public health measures as we’re waiting for that help to come, which will be soon. We’ll be getting vaccine doses into people at a high priority at the end of December….
If you’re fighting a battle and the cavalry’s on the way, you don’t stop shooting. You keep going until the cavalry gets here, then you might even want to continue fighting.
He and Birx emphasized, in contrast to the opposition by Trump and Atlas to containment measures:
We’re not talking about shutting down the country. We’re not talking about locking down. We’re talking about intensifying the simple public health measures that we all talk about: mask wearing, staking distance, avoiding congregant settings, doing things to the extent that we can outdoors versus indoors. If we do that, we’ll be able to hold things off until the vaccine comes.
Biden and Harris Meet Governors
Pence supported some of the statements of the medical experts. He acknowledged that the test positivity rate in the US over the past month has risen from 5% to 10%, and in some parts of the country is much higher.
But he tried to cover for Trump and the Administration with the insistence, in defiance of the surging toll of cases and deaths, “America has never been more prepared to combat this virus than we are today.”
Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met 10 governors, five Republican and five Democrat, to discuss effective measures even as the Trump team refused any cooperation.
Biden spoke about the need for coordinated action, including mask mandates and Federal Government assistance to support local communities amid Senate Majority Leader’s Mitch McConnell blocking of a $2.2 trillion relief bill.
“You need help,” he told the governors. “I want you to know I will be your partner in the White House.”
Biden added, “No national shutdown….There’s no circumstance I can see which would require a total national shutdown.”
One of the Republican governors, Larry Hogan of Maryland, later urged Congress to pass the relief bill before a new session convenes in January.
He said of the Trump team, “We do have concerns that they haven’t been involved with the transition, they’re not getting up to speed. We can’t afford to be delaying.”
Health and Human Services officials confirmed on Wednesday that they had been ordered not to work with Biden’s staff.
Some Health and Human Services staffers instructed today that if anyone from President-elect Joe Biden's team contacts them, they are not to communicate with them and are to alert Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Erica Schwartz of the communication per administration official
— Kristen Holmes (@KristenhCNN) November 18, 2020
Senator Chris Murphy was told by another Trump official of the ban on any cooperation over vaccine distribution.
First, there needs to be an integration between Trump's team and Biden's team to assure a clean hand-off of a complicated distribution plan.
Second, Biden will likely want to improve the plan, but he can't do that effectively if he isn't read into ahead of time.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 19, 2020