Trump raises the stakes on vaccine distribution

By | September 19, 2020

President Trump raised the stakes for the delivery of a coronavirus vaccine, promising a faster timeline than that promised by his advisers and accusing the Biden campaign of undermining the effort.

Trump said Friday that his administration will have enough doses of a coronavirus vaccine for every person in the United States by April 2021, far sooner than what federal health officials have predicted.

“Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April,” Trump said.

He added that the vaccine distribution process “will go quicker than most people think.”

Health officials in the Trump administration have said that a vaccine could become available by the end of the year, but any time before that is unlikely. Just two days ago, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said a vaccine will not become widely accessible until late summer next year, as it takes time for vaccines to be manufactured and distributed to sectors of the population in phases. For example, healthcare providers will likely have access to the vaccine first, followed by essential workers.

Trump also railed against Biden, who said this week that he does not trust Trump’s word on vaccines.

“Joe Biden’s anti-vaccine theories are putting a lot of lives at risk, and they are only doing it for political reasons, it’s very foolish,” Trump said. “It is part of their war to try to discredit the vaccine now that they know we essentially have it.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, weighed in Thursday and said technically both Trump and Redfield were right about the vaccine timeline. He said a vaccine will likely be approved by November or December, at which time, the people at the highest risk of getting seriously sick will be able to get the first doses of the new vaccine.

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“So, many of the people who actually would need the vaccine the most, the more vulnerable, could already be getting them in the beginning of the year,” Fauci said in a Thursday interview with WTOP.

He added that Redfield was also correct when he said most of the country would not have access to a vaccine until the middle of next year.

“If you want to ask the question, what about getting everybody vaccinated so that we can say vaccines have now had a significant impact on how we are able to act in the sense of going back to some degree of normality? That very likely would be in the first half to the third quarter of 2021,” Fauci said.

So far, more than 6.7 million coronavirus infections and over 198,000 deaths have been confirmed in the U.S.

The CDC now recommends that asymptomatic people who were exposed to the coronavirus get tested, reversing a controversial policy set last month that recommended against such testing.

“Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC guidance said as of Friday.

After the CDC changed its testing guidance on Aug. 24 to say that asymptomatic people “do not necessarily need a test,” the Trump administration fought back against accusations that it was trying to limit access to coronavirus tests.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled that she is opposed to a bipartisan economic relief package that cuts hundreds of billions of dollars off her own proposed package. The proposal, put forth by the House Problem Solvers Caucus, would cost roughly $ 1.5 trillion, compared to the package spearheaded by Pelosi and authored by 50 bipartisan lawmakers that would come to about $ 2.2 trillion.

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“I’ve made my statement. Just go read my statement,” Pelosi tersely responded to a reporter who asked her to name “specific issues” with the measure that contribute to her opposition.

Negotiations between Democrats and the White House have stalled, and it remains unclear as to whether Congress will pass another round of aid. House Democrats, especially more centrist members of Congress, are pressuring Pelosi to accept a less costly proposal in order to strike a deal with White House officials.

People are better able to handle small financial emergencies after the coronavirus pandemic began than they were before, thanks to the availability of government assistance programs such as the March CARES Act, according to a Federal Reserve Board survey out Friday.

The survey showed that approximately 70% of adults said in July that they would be able to pay entirely for an unexpected $ 400 emergency expense by using immediate financial resources. That is an increase from 63% last October, before the pandemic.

A Labor Department report out Friday revealed that the jobless rate in several blue states is significantly higher than the national unemployment rate of 8.4% in August, illustrating that they have borne the brunt of the disruptions to business. For example, California and New York had jobless rates of 11.4% and 12.5%, respectively. Meanwhile, red states Texas, Georgia, and Montana had lower jobless rates of 6.8%, 5.6%, and 5.6%, respectively.

Pelosi criticized Salvatore Cordileone, the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, for his op-ed published in the Washington Post that said free exercise of faith was being “unjustly repressed” due to government coronavirus restrictions.

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“With all due respect to my archbishop, I think we should follow science on this,” Pelosi, a Catholic, said during a press conference.

Pelosi said that she has attended “very, very, very spaced” masses but most often visits her church online. Cordileone, meanwhile, noted that the city allows people to go to shopping malls, outdoor parks, and other recreational facilities, while still limiting church services to 12 people outdoors. San Francisco, like many California cities, bans indoor services.