The White House chief of staff said Sunday the administration is “not going to control” the coronavirus pandemic as the daily total of U.S. cases surpassed 83,000 for the second day in a row, the two biggest one-day totals on record.
“What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don’t die from this,” Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
Meadows’ remarks were derided by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who assailed the White House for what he called “preemptive capitulation” to the virus.
Multiple aides to Vice President Mike Pence have being infected. Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, Pence’s spokesman said in a statement. CNN reported that at least two other staffers have tested positive in recent days, while The New York Times reported that at least three others have tested positive.
Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative Saturday, and Pence will maintain his schedule without restrictions, his office said.
The rise in new cases continues unabated, and Johns Hopkins University reported more than 900 additional deaths Saturday. Almost 42,000 new hospitalizations were reported Saturday, according to the COVID Tracking Project. That is the most in a day in more than two months.
Here’s what to know today:
- On Friday, the U.S. broke its record for daily infections when 83,757 new COVID-19 cases were recorded. Saturday’s total was also over 83,700, though 39 less than Friday. The previous high was set in July when the U.S. saw more than 77,300 new cases.
- President Donald Trump’s outdoor campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida, on Saturday night drew a crowd of thousands — many without masks.
- The Navajo Nation has a higher per capita COVID-19 death rate than any U.S. state, with 11,101 infections and 574 confirmed deaths as of Thursday.
📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported over 8.6 million cases and more than 225,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 42.9 million cases and 1.15 million deaths.
🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.
When will there be a COVID-19 vaccine? Our panel of experts expects at least one COVID-19 vaccine will be approved in the coming months. Then things could really get complicated.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis quarantines after suburban mayor tests positive
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has decided to quarantine himself after learning the mayor of a Denver suburb tested positive for the coronavirus. Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman got word of his positive test Sunday, more than a week after he and the governor appeared with other officials at a press conference. A Polis spokesperson said the governor will quarantine while waiting to hear from contact tracers.
Coffman said he worked from home starting Thursday after not feeling well and his symptoms were gone by Saturday. He says he got a rapid test Sunday in hopes of being cleared to return to his office and schedule but will now quarantine at home.
President Donald Trump’s chief of staff said Sunday the Trump administration would not “control” the spread of COVID-19 and is instead focusing on cures. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and others have criticized the Trump administration for not trying to slow the spread of the virus, citing actions ranging from the president’s mocking of mask wearing to his insistence on holding campaign rallies with maskless people packed close together.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has had several public spats with the Trump administration, went a step further in saying the White House has “capitulated” to the virus.
“It was the great American surrender,” Cuomo said. “Americans don’t surrender, and they didn’t even put up a fight.”
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” earlier in the day, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, “We’re not going to control the pandemic.” Meadows added, “we are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
– David Jackson, Matthew Brown and Joseph Spector
Europe: Bulgarian, Polish leaders infected; Spain imposes curfew
Bulgaria’s prime minister joined the list of world leaders to test positive, Spain imposed a nationwide curfew and Russia’s confirmed case total surpassed 1.5 million Sunday as Europe faced difficulties similar to the U.S. in the struggle to control the virus.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov posted a note Sunday on Facebook saying that “after two PCR tests, today I am positive for COVID-19.” He was vague about his symptoms, saying he has a “general indisposition” and will remain at home for treatment.
Borissov wasn’t the only European leader to get infected. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Anze Logar and the mayor of Istanbul have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to their spokespeople. And Algeria President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is in self-isolation for five days as a precautionary measure.
The Spanish government declared a national state of emergency that includes a curfew from 11 p.m.-6 a.m. starting Sunday night and possibly extending for six months. Police in England say they will try to stop people from leaving Wales, which has started a 17-day lockdown to slow a surging rate of infections. Slovakia is adopting strict limits on movement, Greece officials introduced mandatory wearing of masks everywhere Saturday, and Slovenia shut down non-essential shops, kindergartens and hotels.
All but five states reported more infections last week than in the previous week, and the rate of positive test rose in 43 states week over week, a USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins shows. More than 165,000 of the nation’s 8.6 million infections – about 2% – have been reported in the last two days alone.
Public health experts had feared the numbers would rise as more students return to classrooms and cooler weather drives social gatherings indoors. The next concern is flu season, which could add to heavy caseloads already swamping some hospitals, urgent care facilities and healthcare professionals.
– Mike Stucka
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday, Pence’s spokesman said in a statement after reports that another senior adviser had also tested positive. Short began isolating Saturday and assisting in the contact tracing process, according to Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley. Both Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, tested negative Saturday and Pence is not curtailing his movements despite having been in close contact with Short.
“While Vice President Pence is considered a close contact with Mr. Short, in consultation with the White House Medical Unit, the Vice President will maintain his schedule in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel,” O’Malley said in the statement.
— Maureen Groppe
Stretching 27,000 square miles across the Southwest, the Navajo Nation unfolds into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Geographically, it’s the largest reservation in the United States — and for more than 156,000 Diné (as the Navajo people call themselves), it’s home.
It’s also a region that’s been among the most devastated by COVID-19. With 11,101 infections and 574 confirmed deaths as of Thursday, the Navajo Nation has a higher per capita COVID-19 death rate than any U.S. state. Over the summer, COVID-19 cases declined amid strict public health orders and grassroots community relief efforts. But in recent weeks the reservation and surrounding areas have reported an uptick in new numbers. Here’s how you can support community relief.
– Wyatte Grantham-Philips
Researchers say a test developed by a Nobel Prize winner using cutting-edge CRISPR technology has the potential to be rapid, accurate and inexpensive. CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, is a gene-editing technology studied for a wide range of uses from cancer and sickle cell disease treatments to improved food production. The test recognizes a sequence of RNA in SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Although these gene-editing technology tests are still being developed and won’t be ready in the United States this year as the weather cools and demand surges, research groups recently published scientific papers describing them as an appealing alternative.
“We have a ways to go before CRISPR-based diagnostics reach widespread use, but I believe we’ll see an impact during the current pandemic,” said Dr. Jennifer Doudna, a University of California, Berkeley researcher whose pioneering work in CRISPR earned a share of this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry. The test can be done quickly and doesn’t require a lab, she said. Read more here.
– Ken Alltucker
COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press