October 28, 2020

White House cites 'ending the Covid-19 pandemic' as a Trump admin accomplishment

Daily Briefing

    *Editor's note: This story was updated Oct. 29 to include comments from a White House spokesperson that were made after this story's original time of publication.

    The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in a release issued Tuesday listed "ending the Covid-19 pandemic" as one of President Trump's accomplishments during his time in office so far. The claim comes as the United States reported a record of more than 500,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the past week, and as hospitals are seeing surges in new patients with Covid-19.

    Tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET: 'Stay Up to Date' on America's biggest Covid-19 surge yet

    White House touts 'ending the Covid-19 pandemic' as a top accomplishment for Trump

    The OSTP release is titled, "Trump Administration Releases Science and Technology Accomplishments from First Term." A subtitle on the release reads, "White House OSTP Showcases [Science and Technology] Wins That Changed the World Over the Past Four Years."

    The release includes a list of "highlights," among which "ending the Covid-19 pandemic" is listed first. The release states, "From the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat" Covid-19.

    According to the release, OSTP on Tuesday published a report titled "Advancing America's Global Leadership in Science and Technology." In the release, White House OSTP Director Kevin Droegemeier states that the full report shows "just a fraction of the achievements made by the Trump administration."

    In that report, OSTP details what the office claims were "significant investments, accomplishments, policies, and other actions undertaken by … Trump to advance science and technology." The report includes some steps the administration has taken to address America's coronavirus epidemic.

    In a series of tweets, OSTP Communications Director Kristina Baum claimed that the report itself did not list ending the pandemic as one of the Trump administration's accomplishments, but rather as one of the administration's top priorities. Baum in the posts wrote that the report is intended to spotlight the progress the administration has made in addressing the pandemic.

    In addition, a White House spokesperson on Wednesday said the OSTP release was "poorly worded," and the administration does not consider the pandemic to be over. Alyssa Farah, White House strategic communications director, during a Fox News interview on Wednesday said, "The intent was to say that it is our goal to end the virus." Farah added, "Cases are still rising and we need the American public to remain vigilant. This is the top priority of [Trump], defeating this virus and rebuilding our economy." 

    US reports record 500K new coronavirus cases in past week

    OSTP's statements come as U.S. officials on Tuesday reported about 74,410 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases reported in the country since the epidemic began to 8,851,500 as of Wednesday morning—up from about 8,776,900 cases reported as of Tuesday morning.

    According to the New York Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 73,094—which is up by 39% when compared with the average from two weeks ago. In the past week alone, U.S. officials have reported more than 500,000 new cases of the virus, the Times reports, setting a record for the highest number of new cases reported in the country since the epidemic began.

    As of Wednesday morning, data from the Times showed that the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying high" in Guam, Puerto Rico, and 37 states that have had a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    Eight states that have had comparatively low case rates were seeing those rates "going up" as of Wednesday morning, according to the Times. Those states are Arizona, California, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.

    In the seven remaining U.S. states and territories, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying low" as of Wednesday morning, according to the Times' analysis.

    U.S. officials on Tuesday also reported about 983 new deaths linked to the virus, bringing the total number of reported U.S. deaths linked to the coronavirus since the country's epidemic began to 226,681 as of Wednesday morning—up from about 225,158 cases reported as of Tuesday morning.

    And as the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States has surged by record levels in recent days, hospitals throughout the country have been reporting record levels of new Covid-19 patients. Currently, there are more than 42,000 Americans with Covid-19 who are hospitalized for treatment, according to data from The Atlantic's COVID Tracking Project—up from about 30,000 one month ago, The Hill reports. In several states, some hospitals have reported that they've reached capacity due to the surge in Covid-19 patients or they're nearing capacity.

    Earlier this month, HHS Secretary Alex Azar for the third time renewed its federal public health emergency declaration for the coronavirus epidemic, which currently is scheduled to remain in place until Jan. 21, 2021  (New York Times [1], 10/28; Stone, "Shots," NPR, 10/27; Behrmann, USA Today, 10/27; Weixel, The Hill, 10/27; Ehley, Politico, 10/27; Beer, Forbes, 10/27; New York Times [2], 10/28; HHS public health emergency declaration, 10/2; Weixel, The Hill, 10/28).

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