As President-elect Joe Biden announced that he would name his own coronavirus taskforce on Monday, the US recorded its fourth consecutive record daily total of new Covid cases, close to 130,000.
“That plan will be built on a bedrock of science,” Biden said, promising to “spare no effort – or commitment – to turn this pandemic around.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, 127,399 cases were recorded across the US on Saturday, bringing the total recorded to nearly 9.9m. More than 1,000 deaths were recorded, bring the national toll close to 237,000.
Bearing out Dr Anthony Fauci’s recent warning of cases rising and staying above 100,000 a day, the seven-day average for cases was 103,973. Hospitalisations were also rising, at around 56,000.
“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 last week. “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.”
Fauci, who has served six presidents since 1984, and other respected public health experts have struggled to influence Donald Trump’s response to the crisis. The president has followed advisers many say are unqualified, while insisting the US is “rounding the turn” and staging White House and campaign events at which mask-wearing and social-distancing are not enforced.
Cases have proliferated in the White House and around the president and are surging in states across the US, many Republican-run states suffering particularly badly.
Delivering his victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday night, Biden outlined plans to announce a 12-member coronavirus taskforce on Monday.
“Our work begins with getting Covid under control,” Biden said. “We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality, or relish life’s most precious moments – hugging a grandchild, birthdays, weddings, graduations, all the moments that matter most to us – until we get this virus under control.
“On Monday, I will name a group of leading scientists and experts as transition advisers to help take the Biden-Harris Covid plan and convert it into an action blueprint that starts on 20 January 2021.
“That plan will be built on a bedrock of science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy, and concern. I will spare no effort – or commitment – to turn this pandemic around.”
Biden will take office facing an unprecedented challenge, in containing the pandemic and restoring damage done to the US economy. According to projections from the University of Washington, more than 100,000 more Americans may have died by then.