This week, in her debut as running mate to presidential candidate Joe Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris gave a preview of one of the Democratic ticket’s key arguments for the fall campaign, making a full-throated, prosecutorial case against the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The virus has impacted almost every country,” Harris said, “but there’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start.”
After receiving a briefing from public health experts on Thursday, Biden and Harris argued for a more comprehensive, aggressive national strategy to battle the virus, including major federal investment in contact tracing, a national mask mandate, and guaranteed free access to a COVID vaccine when it becomes available.
The remarks came as the US experienced the deadliest day of the summer so far, with nearly 1,500 COVID fatalities on Wednesday, and a seven-day rolling average of over 1,000 deaths per day for the last 17 days. Meanwhile, a new analysis by the New York Times, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicated that the true US death toll from COVID may be as much as 35 percent higher than the reported total of 167K—a finding based on “excess deaths” above normal levels since March.
As President Trump continued to urge schools to reopen for in-person instruction nationwide, the White House released new guidance for ensuring students’ safe return to school. The guidance encouraged social distancing, frequent handwashing, better ventilation of school facilities, and the use of outdoor settings wherever possible.
Despite the President’s claim last week that children are “virtually immune” from the virus, a new analysis from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association showed that 97,000 children tested positive for COVID in the last two weeks of July alone, a 40 percent increase in the total number of known cases over that period.
About 340,000 children have tested positive so far, representing about 9 percent of all US cases. As schools face pressure to reopen, those numbers are likely to mount, and early-opening school districts in Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, and Mississippi are already struggling to keep schools open amid rising cases.
Federal assistance to help schools deal with what seems like inevitable rounds of positive cases and closures is not forthcoming, however: after failing to reach a deal on another round of COVID relief, lawmakers have left Washington until September.
US coronavirus update: 5.2M cases; 167K deaths; 64.6M tests conducted.