Scott Atlas apologizes for appearing on RT. He says he did not realize the television network is a registered foreign agent for the Russian government. On RT, he (a) misrepresented the effectiveness of masks, (b) suggested that lockdowns kill, and (c) discouraged the testing of asymptomatic people. This he does not apologize for.
One day before the general election in the US, a daily COVID caseload of 100,233 is reported by Reuters.
Global fatalities see their deadliest week since April. The world's death toll now surpasses 1.2 million. US deaths are officially reported to be ~240,000, but numerous estimates suggest a more accurate tally would place the total at around 300,000.
Facing Trump's refusal to change policies, Dr. Fauci says the US needs an “abrupt change” in public health practices and behaviors. Fauci's criticism evokes a "Fire Fauci" chant at a Trump campaign rally, to which Trump quips, "Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.” Supporters cheer as Trump adds, “I appreciate the advice." [Despite Trump's hints, Dr. Fauci is not subject to dismissal by the president. Like all civil servants, who are government employees and not political appointees, cause must be shown for firing, and standard procedures followed.]
Election Day 2020. A referendum on the Trump presidency takes place. Many votes are cast via mail-in ballots given the ongoing pandemic, so it is certain that the results cannot be known on the night of the election. Polls show that Joe Biden will win the popular vote. The nature of the electoral college gives great advantage to small rural states, however. These have tended to vote Republican in recent decades. These states tended to support Donald Trump's policies throughout the pandemic, and despite the numerous insults to the public's health (and intelligence) chronicled on this website, Trump indeed did very well there. [This made the 2020 election something of a nail-biter, despite Trump losing by a 7 million vote margin.]
Despite Trump's all-too-often-repeated claims at rallies that the pandemic would vanish on November 4 (and the media would stop covering it), the fact is new case numbers of COVID, hospitalizations of the citizenry, and unfortunately deaths ALL CONTINUE. In fact, all these negative stats continue to worsen. [It is perhaps disturbing to note that despite the ridiculousness of Trump's lies on the subject, tens of millions of supporters believed him and tens of millions of them voted for him on Election Day.]
Trump demands that vote counts in the nation simply be halted, claiming he has won the election. There is, of course, no justification for halting the counting of votes excepting reasons invented between Trump's ears. Since the beginning of the American republic, the process has taken many days to complete. By this date, Trump was losing the popular vote by ~4 million and counting. Of course, in 2016, he lost by about 3 million votes and still won in the electoral college count. Legal challenges are filed by Trump in several states. [Myriad challenges would be filed in the days and weeks to come. All will be thrown out for both legal and factual deficiencies.]
Joe Biden (and a nation desperately needing a change in public health policies) remains in need of just one of the four states still undecided to become president-elect. In the week bracketing the presidential election, 23 states reach a record number of coronavirus cases.
Despite reaching the third post-election day, the pandemic continues to not miraculously disappear. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has tested positive for coronavirus, though it is unclear when he was tested. Meadows traveled with Trump November 2nd and attended the WH party on election night, where he was in close contact with the First Family. Officials are concerned that Meadows was likely around other staffers this week while contagious.
The United States crosses the threshold of 10 million COVID-19 cases. Texas becomes the first state to hit the benchmark of 1 million.
Several European nations battling the fall wave of COVID draft their militaries to aid overburdened healthcare systems. Armed forces members have been taking on roles ranging from supporting hospital staff to disinfecting testing sites to transporting patients. Such actions are not even being discussed in the USA by the soon-to-be lame duck, yet still empowered, administration.
As the votes are counted in swing states and Joe Biden's margins of victory hold up, he is FINALLY declared the victor in the US Presidential race.
Rather unsurprisingly, Donald Trump does not graciously concede his loss. In fact, as predicted by those who know him, Trump refuses to acknowledge that he could possibly have lost, and accuses his opponent of cheating. [This preposterous, unproven, unfounded, and just plain made up pile of falsehood retains a grim potential for chaos and insurrection.]
On an infinitely happier note, the Biden campaign states that dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is... yes, it's hard to believe... a top priority. It is, in fact, cited as THE top priority of the incoming president. <sound effect of popping champagne bottle>
This breath of fresh air comes in what seems like the nick of time, as just the day before, the US again broke its own record for new COVID cases with more than 126,000.
The incoming administration announces the selection of Vivek Murthy, former surgeon general, and David Kessler, former FDA commissioner, to co-chair the new administration's task force on COVID. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Yale physician and professor, is the anticipated third chair. Murthy and Kessler have both spoken out about a need for the FDA to avoid perceptions of political interference.
Trump, doing his part as usual, refuses to allow any cooperation between his administration and Biden's incoming administration. Not on COVID. Not on anything.
In what will soon be perceived as an ominous groundswell, demonstrations by Trump supporters - fueled by misinformation spread via social media - continue. They follow the reasoning, if that is the word (and it is not), that the election has been stolen from their fearless leader. No credible evidence gets presented to support this. Then again, credible evidence is not a major requirement for the QAnon crowd. [As we will soon see, this mobilization of true believers is no joke, and manages to threaten the transference of power to the incoming administration.]
President-elect Biden officially announces a COVID-19 advisory board of science-driven clinicians, health policy experts, and scientists. Among them: Obama health advisor Zeke Emanuel; Dr. Celine Gounder, medical journalist; and immunologist Rick Bright, director of the government's agency tasked with disease countermeasures (until he blew the whistle on pushing hydroxychloroquine and got ousted). The Biden announcement signals that fighting the pandemic will indeed be the top priority of his new administration.
In a significant update to its recommendations on face coverings, the CDC notes that wearing a mask protects the wearer - not just those around the wearer. The agency also pointed out that multiple studies now confirm the benefit of “universal masking policies.”
COVID cases explode in Europe. Many countries struggle with surges in hospitalizations. Belgium leads in the rate of deaths, and blame for this centers on an incoherent COVID response from a caretaker government. The 2019 elections there produced no ruling coalition until September 2020. With no federal leadership, provinces and local communities adopted conflicting measures. This is quite like the US. Belgium's COVID advisory body removed scientists in favor of business leaders opposed to efforts to mitigate the virus. Again, much like the USA, and again, with similar results.
Coronavirus infections hit 140,000 cases over the last day. Cases have topped 100,000 cases per day, every day, for the first ten days of November, as the fall surge accelerates.
Hospitals in North Dakota, the US's worst hit state, are at 100% capacity. Staffing shortages are so severe that the Governor issued orders allowing workers with active infections to continue at their jobs in COVID units, so long as they lack symptoms and take "extra precautions"! North Dakota issues no requirement to wear a mask anywhere in the state.
One of the last remaining COVID-free countries in the world - the island nation of Vanuatu - announces its first positive test - a man returning from the United States.
Just one week after hitting 100,000 cases a day for the first time, the US hits a new record of 160,000 cases of COVID-19. California joins Texas as the second state with over 1M cases of coronavirus.
As the fall surge continues, reports emerge that despite having 9 months to prepare for the need, the United States has not produced enough personal protective equipment. Hospitals in New York are again facing the prospect of recycling masks and gowns in the wake of shortages.
Trump and his administration have responded to the above with... no response at all. Their attention is directed instead to how the election results can be overturned. That task is made much more difficult by the calling of Arizona and Georgia for Biden. With Biden's 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232, Team Trump must invalidate the results of no less than three states to get a total over 270.
Despite warnings that it was premature to do so, the administration authorized resumption of cruise ship activity at the beginning of this month. The first ship to do so is today reporting at least five cases of COVID aboard, and remained docked in Barbados.
US COVID deaths top the quarter million mark in official totals, though many experts estimate the actual number to be closer to 350,000.
Over the prior week, the United States has added another 1 million cases, to top 11M.
Dr. Fauci notes that Trump has not attended a Coronavirus Task Force meeting since June. Trump continues non-cooperation with the incoming administration on pandemic management... and everything else.
Dr. Scott Atlas tweets that citizens in Michigan should "rise up" against new restrictions being instituted in that state following a sharp increase in case numbers.
Trump's General Services Administration refuses to take the normal steps for the transition process, so Biden's team lacks a budget, and remains unable to work directly with federal agencies. The president-elect warns that such actions may hamper the incoming administration's ability to distribute coronavirus vaccines. The president-non-elect continues to pout.
A WHO panel recommends against the use of remdesivir for COVID-19. Its experts “concluded that remdesivir has no meaningful effect on mortality or on other important outcomes for patients, such as the need for mechanical ventilation or time to clinical improvement.” Their report did not rule out using the drug, but said evidence was lacking to recommend it.
Promising announcements from Pfizer and Moderna raise vaccine hopes, but many state officials now say they need federal government money to ensure distribution once vaccines are released. The states say they need more funding to hire staff to administer vaccines, develop information systems to track doses, and promote the need to get vaccinated.
Despite these realities, officials at "Operation Warp Speed" insist that vaccine distributions can begin within 24 hours of an Emergency Use Authorization for them.
Lame duck Trump participates in a virtual G-20 summit with a message sent from the White House Situation Room. Just 13 minutes into the opening session, he tweets messages. Messages concerning the pandemic (the main focus of the summit)? Of course not. Trump is griping about "election fraud". Trump reportedly used his address to the summit to (a) complain about the Paris climate accord and (b) explain how he was right to withdraw from it.
As a side session on global pandemic preparedness convenes later that afternoon at the summit (including speeches by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel), Trump, figuring it to be a waste of his time, elects instead to play a round of golf.
The fall COVID surge continues to accelerate. Johns Hopkins University reports that, in just three weeks, a quarter of all cases in the United States have been recorded - 2.8M of a 12M total. Under the circumstances, health officials across the country are counseling people to consider skipping the Thanksgiving holiday.
The head of the US's COVID-19 vaccination plan, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, says that if all things go according to plan, first responders could receive vaccine injections as early as the second week of December. If everything went well, he estimates that enough of the population could be vaccinated for life to return to normal by May. [In this, he was optimistic.]
The General Services Administration finally authorizes the start of the process of presidential transition. Trump had been blocking the coalition of federal agencies overseeing vaccine distribution from communicating with the Biden-Harris team.
Three weeks after the election, the White House finally gives formal approval for the president-elect to receive the President's Daily Brief, classified information and analysis on national security matters, which naturally includes matters related to COVID. Trump, meanwhile, has still not acknowledged his electoral defeat. [Nor has he done so by mid-2021, nor, most certainly, ever.]
Health authorities across the nation urge families to limit the number of people gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday as the number of COVID-19 patients in US hospitals hits a record for the 16th straight day, at approximately 90,000. Many medical centers across the nation note that they are running out of beds.
November 2020 Summary
The case rate in the US increases from 90,000 cases a day to over 200,000. By month's end, COVID-related hospitalizations in the US exceed 98K per day.
A commencement of vaccinations in the USA gets closer to being a reality. However, lack of a unified national response, and continued resistance in some circles to employ basic health measures such as masking, social distancing, and restricted business operations, continues to cost the nation tens of thousands of lives.
Deployment of resources and the institution of comprehensive actions avowed by President-elect Biden are curtailed throughout the month, as for weeks Trump prevented the GSA from coordinating the handoff between the outgoing and incoming administrations.
Despite presenting no credible evidence in support of his claim, Trump claims he actually won the election, both in the popular vote and electoral college. His efforts are directed at lawsuits in dozens of jurisdictions claiming fraud. All are thrown out due to lack of evidence and specious legal reasoning. Joe Biden commences planning for the assumption of presidential powers January 20 with a new attitude towards fighting the pandemic.
The presidential election heads Donald J. Trump, and all that he had done, towards the exit, but in the meantime the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be dealt with in a manner that is inadequate at best, and counterproductive at worst. Trump now attempts to influence various state legislators to appoint presidential electors who will vote for him despite losing the vote in those same states. He is neither going quietly nor reforming his disastrous policies as the nation moves into the final month of a bad year.