Politics Coronavirus resurgence catches Biden off guard
Russia's daily coronavirus deaths mount to another high
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's coronavirus deaths surged to another daily record Wednesday as soaring infections prompted the Cabinet to suggest declaring a nonworking week to stem contagion. The government task force reported 1,028 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. That brought the total death toll to 226,353 — by far the highest in Europe. Amid a spike in infections and deaths, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova suggested introducing a nonworking period starting Oct. 30 and extending through the following week, when four of seven days already are state holidays.
The novel coronavirus pandemic is at a crossroads, and so is President Joe Biden's messaging strategy as the public and the White House hope to move past the virus after 18 months of upheaval.
Biden is particularly eager to look beyond the current pandemic, meeting with top scientist Eric Lander on Wednesday to discuss the country's preparedness for future public health emergencies. The pivot helps Democrats competing in the 2022 midterm election cycle, but it may be premature as the delta variant spreads across the country.
Fact-checking Biden's CNN town hall in Baltimore
President Joe Biden participated Thursday in a CNN town hall in Baltimore, taking questions from anchor Anderson Cooper and local residents about his legislative agenda and a variety of other topics. © Heather Fulbright/CNN President Joe Biden, right, and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, speak during a CNN town hall in Baltimore, Maryland, on October 21, 2021. Biden made some false claims, along with making other claims that could have used additional context.
It is important for Biden to multitask his response to the current pandemic while making provisions for future outbreaks, according to Glen Nowak, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Health and Risk Communication. But the current crisis should be Biden's priority, the former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman told the Washington Examiner.
"If you don't start thinking about what you may have learned and what you might do differently in a future pandemic while you're in a pandemic, you can forget valuable lessons," he said.
The problem is it is a confusing message when the delta variant is undoing progress reported since vaccinations provided the public with a glimpse of normal.
The delta variant is a driving factor behind the U.S. recording almost 100,000 new cases a day, predominantly among unvaccinated people, when six weeks ago, the country had a daily average of 11,000 new infections. The data prompted the CDC to roll out new mask guidance and New York City to mandate vaccinations for city employees and patrons of indoor restaurants, gyms, and other inside activities.
Biden to meet Pope Francis amid some rifts with US bishops
There’s an intriguing subplot to President Joe Biden’s upcoming meeting with Pope Francis. The world’s two most prominent Roman Catholics will be celebrating a shared outlook on church teaching and vital social issues even as Biden faces unwavering opposition from many U.S. Catholic bishops over his stances on abortion and LGBTQ rights. Less than three weeks after Biden’s visit to the Vatican on Friday, the American bishops will convene in Baltimore, with one of the agenda items inspired in part by conservatives who contend that Biden’s support for abortion rights should disqualify him from receiving Communion.
But pandemic politics has changed, and the public's patience with mitigation measures has ebbed.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, for instance, stopped short of implementing a mask mandate, disregarding the CDC's recommendation. And while Biden's own vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors reflects the seriousness of the situation, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged the lack of political appetite for more lockdowns.
Public polling bears out the shift. A Quinnipiac poll published Wednesday, for example, revealed a double-digit drop in the popularity of Biden's pandemic handling, down to 53% approve-40% disapprove from 65% approve-30% disapprove in May.
Concerning Biden's messaging, Nowak suggested the White House foreshadow policy updates better, offer more thorough explanations of decisions, and emphasize empathy with the public because officials want the pandemic to end too.
Number of joint Biden-Harris appearances plummets: Report
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris appeared together publicly 18 times in February after rising to the White House on a promise to be a partnership. But in October they only had one joint press event.When Biden picked Harris to be the first female and woman of color to be vice president he strongly indicated she would be an equal partner in his administration.
"Many people would like this to be over and would like life to return to the way it was before the pandemic, but, unfortunately, this virus just keeps changing," he said. "At the end of the day, it's reminding people that the villain here is the virus."
The resurgence of COVID-19 appears to have caught Biden off guard. Despite stagnated vaccination rates, the CDC dispensed with its mask guidance for vaccinated people in May because cases, hospitalizations, and death figures were low. The administration then held fewer COVID-19 task force press briefings and downsized the team, dismissing senior adviser Andy Slavitt.
But with the delta variant reasserting pressure on healthcare systems, Biden has had to turn his and the public's attention back to the pandemic instead of focusing on his infrastructure proposals and other legislative agenda items.
Vaccination is crucial to reducing the current wave of cases, according to Bipartisan Policy Center chief medical adviser Anand Parekh. The White House celebrated vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one shot this week, a benchmark Biden's task force originally set for the administration to meet by July 4.
Vikings' Kirk Cousins, Nate Stanley expected to return Thursday from COVID-19 list
Kirk Cousins and backup Nate Stanley are expected to return to practice Thursday. Both were deemed high-risk close contacts when Kellen Mond tested positive for the coronavirus. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer would not say when Mond, who must miss at least 10 days per the league's protocols, may be back at practice. Vikings cornerback and eight-time Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson has campaigned for more of his teammates to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots amid reports that only 64.5% of Minnesota players are fully vaccinated.
And Parekh defended the CDC's advice to vaccinated people in states with a high or substantial number of infections to wear masks if they are in indoor public places.
"While we vaccinate more Americans, indoor masking also allows us to break chains of transmission, particularly in light of the highly transmissible delta variant," he said. "And genetic sequencing to track variants and ensuring current vaccines protect against these variants will be critical metrics as well."
For future pandemics, Parekh underscored the need to balance accelerated vaccine and therapeutic development. He pointed tooutlining opportunities to clarify the federal government's role and responsibilities, in addition to incentivizing states to join a coordinated effort.
Biden met Wednesday with Lander, his science adviser and director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, to "discuss his plan for preparing for future pandemics." Lander's Senate confirmation was delayed, in part, for lawmakers to investigate his connection to disgraced financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Biden promoted Lander's position to the Cabinet, the first time for the post.
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Presidents and popes over the years: Gifts, gaffes, grief
WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Joe Biden meets with Pope Francis on Friday, he won’t kiss the ring. Biden, who has met with Francis three times and with two previous popes, has said he eschews the traditional sign of respect because his mother told him not to — that no one is “better” than him. In their meeting, the two are expected to discuss issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change as equals. Biden, only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, often speaks publicly about his faith and attends Mass every weekend.
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Jets vs. Colts live score, updates, highlights from NFL 'Thursday Night Football' game .
Sporting News is tracking live scoring updates and highlights from Jets vs. Colts on "Thursday Night Football." Follow along below for complete results from the NFL Week 9 game.The Jets upset the Bengals, 34-31, on Sunday. The star of the game was Jets backup quarterback Mike White, who led the NFL in passing yards for the week with 405 in his first-career NFL start. White will make his second start against the Colts as Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson remains out with a PCL injury from Week 7.