White House advisers warn of ‘unrelenting’ COVID-19 spread

“If things do not change, if they continue on the course we’re on, there’s gonna be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalisations, and deaths,” Fauci said in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday night.

The White House coronavirus taskforce has warned states in the middle and west of the country that aggressive mitigation measures will be necessary, according to weekly state reports seen by CNN.

“We continue to see unrelenting, broad community spread in the Midwest, Upper Midwest and West. This will require aggressive mitigation to control both the silent, asymptomatic spread and symptomatic spread,” one state’s report said.

Biden and his fellow Democrats in Congress have excoriated Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 228,000 people in the US.

Trump pushed to reopen the US economy, sometimes against the advice of his own government health experts, while many of his supporters in Michigan and elsewhere protested lockdown and mitigation efforts.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows defended the administration’s response on Thursday and stressed that therapeutics and vaccines were on the way.

“We know what doesn’t work. We know that long-term lockdowns and shutting down our economy and making sure that everybody just stays inside their house doesn’t work,” Meadows said on CBS’ This Morning.

There are no calls for a nationwide lockdown at this point, but health officials are urging a renewed push to get Americans to redouble mitigation efforts. Meadows did not say the White House would engage in any new initiative on that front.

Trump has repeatedly downplayed the virus, claiming for weeks that the country is “rounding the turn” as cases climb.

The taskforce reports said the cooler weather is a major factor in the increase as friends and families move gatherings indoors. It urged states to intensify efforts to encourage mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding crowds in public spaces.

US hospitalisations are soaring, a metric not affected by the amount of testing done, reaching 45,205 on Wednesday, the highest since August 14.

Thirteen states, mainly in the Midwest and West, reported a record number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, according to a Reuters analysis.

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Wisconsin, a hotly contested battleground, is one of 34 states where coronavirus hospitalisations are rising by at least 10 per cent compared with the previous week. Michigan, another election battleground state, logged a one-day record of more than 3500 new cases.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in an interview with CNN on Thursday that the situation in the city is “worst than it’s ever been,” and slammed Republicans in the state legislature for sparking a legal battle with the Democratic governor over emergency orders to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“Clearly politics has just permeated this in a way that, I think, has made it very, very difficult for us to deal with this,” he said.

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Reuters

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