Coronavirus Roundup: Fauci and Birx Speak About Working Under Trump; National Guard and Capitol Police Members Test Positive for COVID-19
There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents in an ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Sunday approved of President Biden’s handling of the pandemic in his first few days in office. This included 40% of Republicans, 97% of Democrats and 70% of Independents. President Trump’s highest approval rating for the pandemic was 55% in mid-March. Here are some of the other recent headlines from over the weekend and today that you might have missed.
About 200 members of the National Guard who were deployed to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration contracted COVID-19. “Reports that guardsmen were working and moving in tight quarters raised concerns COVID-19 protocols can’t be maintained, a defense official said,” according to a The Wall Street Journal report on Friday. “Every guardsman deployed to Washington was screened for COVID-19 before arriving, but not all were tested, unless required under the screening process, defense officials said.” About 26,000 were deployed for the inauguration and about 5,000 are expected to stay through mid-March as the Senate takes up impeachment.
Since the Capitol attack, at least 38 Capitol Police employees have tested positive for coronavirus, The Washington Post reported on Saturday. Eva Malecki, spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, told The Post that one of acting chief Yogananda Pittman’s “top priorities is to provide USCP officers with the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as the vaccine becomes more readily available to first responders.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, coronavirus task force coordinator under President Trump, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” she “always” considered quitting her post. “There are people in the White House and I think people around this country...who definitely believed that this was a hoax,” she said. “I went out on the road because I wasn't censored on the road.” Birx plans to retire from public service within the next four to six weeks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Biden’s chief medical adviser, spoke with The New York Times about what it was like to work with Trump over the last year. “After a TV interview or a story in a major newspaper, someone senior, like Mark Meadows, would call me up expressing concern that I was going out of my way to contradict the president,” he said. Also, controversial White House pandemic advisor Dr. Scott Atlas, who was brought on in August, “was less a replacement for me than a pushing out of Debbie Birx,” Fauci said.
White House Chief-of-Staff Ron Klain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Biden’s goal for 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days is “ambitious,” yet “not our final goal.” On the bottlenecks in production and distribution, he said, “the fundamental difference between the Biden approach and the Trump approach is that we're going to take responsibility at the federal government.”
Other top officials expressed concerns on the Sunday shows about vaccine supply shortages, but had some optimism the situation can be improved, Politico reported.
Biden is going to impose a ban on non-U.S. citizens who have recently traveled to South Africa from entering the United States to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus variant, Reuters reported on Sunday. He is also going to reinstate the entry ban on almost all non-U.S. individuals who have recently traveled to Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Schengen Area (which consists of 26 European countries), which Trump attempted to lift right before leaving office.
Before Biden can tackle the pandemic, the economic recession or anything else, he must “rebuild” the Office of Management and Budget, Politico reported on Monday. “Biden will need to restore trust, reset norms and bolster the ranks at the budget office after Trump stripped civil servants of authority and worker protections while pushing a legally dubious agenda that many at the agency do not support, according to interviews with half a dozen current and former OMB officials,” said the report. “In the new president's first three days in office, the Biden administration has given career staff back their power in overseeing federal spending and released more than $27 billion for critical services temporarily frozen by Trump’s recent request for spending cuts, said Rob Friedlander, associate director for communications at OMB.”
Biden installed Dr. Kevin O’Connor, his long-time doctor, as the new White House physician, replacing Dr. Sean Conley who served under Trump, ABC News reported on Monday. “It's not unusual for a new president to select their personal physician for their term,” said the report. “However, O'Connor will take on the job in the medical unit that faced a crisis of credibility under Trump following rosy readouts of physicals and misleading information about his COVID-19 treatment.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing on Monday that public health press briefings will begin on Wednesday. They will happen about three times a week and are a “reflection to our commitment to being transparent.”
Upcoming: Biden will deliver remarks at 3:45 p.m. about strengthening manufacturing in America.
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