Hours after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. declared the coronavirus a top priority, the scale of his task became crystal clear on Sunday as the nation surpassed 10 million cases and sank deeper into the world. grip of what could become the worst chapter to date in the pandemic.
The rate of new cases is skyrocketing, and for the first time, it averages over 100,000 a day in the United States, which has reported more cases of the virus than any other country. A surprising number of Americans – one in 441 – tested positive for the virus last week.
With 29 states establishing weekly case records, the virus is increasing in more than half of the country. Nationwide, hospitalizations have nearly doubled since mid-September, and deaths are slowly rising again, with few new interventions in place to stop the outbreak.
The country’s deteriorating outlook comes at an extremely difficult time: President Trump, who remains in office until January, openly disagrees with his own coronavirus advisers, and the winter, when infections are not expected to spread any further. quickly, come closer.
In a victory speech on Saturday night, Mr Biden said he was quickly focusing his attention on the pandemic, including his intention to announce a task force of coronavirus advisers on Monday.
But he faces a nation divided over mask rules and business closures, even as experts say the situation could deteriorate further before the new administration takes over in late January.
In the White House, Mr. Trump has largely shut down the coronavirus task force, insisted without evidence that the nation was “turning the corner” in the fight against the virus, and suggested he could fire the principal government infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. In the days before and after election day, six White House aides and a high-level campaign adviser tested positive.
This is all coming as the colder weather will force more people inside; at the end of the university semesters and on their return home; and as the gatherings for Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays threaten to sow new outbreaks.
“I see this as a very precarious moment,” said Dr Ashish K. Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, who said the Trump administration had “basically thrown in the towel” in trying to control the pandemic. , while Mr. Biden and his team have nothing to exercise other than “moral power and social power” until January 20.
“Without meaningful action,” said Dr Jha, “the idea that we would have 100,000 more deaths on inauguration day would be a conservative estimate.”