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Sunday show preview: Omicron surges, and Harris sits for extensive interview

Associated Press/Christophe Ena
U.S Vice President Kamala Harris delivers a speech during the Paris Peace Forum, in Paris, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Some world leaders and internet giants are expected to issue a global call to better protect children online during a Paris summit of about 30 heads of state and government, including U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris. 

The Sunday show coverage this holiday weekend is expected to focus heavily on the COVID-19 pandemic and Vice President Harris’ first term in the Biden White House.

Coronavirus continues to dominate headlines as the omicron, the most contagious variant yet, spreads through cities and states with striking intensity. 

Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser, has recently warned about the “unprecedented” pace of the virus.

In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” this week, the infectious disease expert said the speed at which cases were rising nationwide was, in his view, “extremely unusual.”

Fauci has been the Biden administration’s go-to source of medical information on each new variant of COVID-19 and in many ways the public face of the response, often appearing on television news programs to address critical developments facing the nearly two-year pandemic. 

On Sunday, he will be a guest on ABC’s “This Week.”

The latest statistics on omicron have been a cause for concern among public health officials and political leaders alike, including within the Oval Office.

Biden delivered a speech on the new strain on Tuesday, offering a host of expected measures to tamp down on the severity of the spread. He said he intends to dramatically increase the number of tests available for at-home use and create additional on-site testing locations for early detection. He also pledged to give medical facilities more resources.

The Centers for Disease Control and Infection, which provides regular updates and analysis on the virus, released a new report this week indicating that experts have indeed “identified the potential for a rapid increase in infections” of omicron nationwide. 

Additionally, the report says that such increases are “most likely due to a combination of two factors: increased transmissibility and the ability of the variant to evade immunity conferred by past infection or vaccination.”

While the White House – and a good portion of news coverage – is focused on omicron, Democrats’ attention is also shifting towards Harris, who made a comment about the virus that caused some to scratch their heads.

Last week, the vice president said, “we didn’t see omicron coming,” a comment that had to be cleaned up after her interview with the Los Angeles Times.

“That’s the nature of what this,” Harris told the outlet, “this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants.”

Harris will appear in a recorded interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” as the program’s sole guest.

When Biden asked Harris to be his running mate in August 2020, many Democrats were hopeful for a do-over of an election season that had often placed the two former senators at odds. Her selection received a cheerful response from many in the party who believed she could help Biden lock up the general election and govern with a new perspective on leadership.

In the early days of the administration, however, Harris came under careful, at times intense, scrutiny as Biden’s number two, causing her to sustain brand damage and dogging much of the coverage of her early tenure as VP. 

Beyond the apparent omicron slip-up, Harris made remarks about migrants that were widely perceived to be tone-deaf and insensitive to individuals caught in an immigration system that she and Biden both promised to fix. 

Then, a report by CNN about the strife in her office caused many Democrats and journalists to probe deeper into the state of affairs in her inner circle.

The story, which included examples of infighting, led to follow-up pieces about the dissatisfaction of some of her top staffers, with several on her team calling it quits.

All of that scrutiny comes as the White House is looking to position Harris as a competent leader to stand beside the president after a tumultuous first year in office. 

Some critics have argued that she is more scrutinized than any other vice president in the nation’s history because she is the first woman and woman of color to hold that job, leaving her with little breathing room to work.

There is also the question of whether Biden is planning to try for a second term. Administration officials say he is, and Harris recently said to the Wall Street Journal that she and Biden have never talked about the prospect of her running instead of him. 

But heading into the new year, questions have nonetheless mounted about whether Harris – or another Democrat entirely – will indeed be the next nominee in 2024.

Harris is likely to be asked about all of that on Sunday. CBS News is devoting the full hour of the program to the Q&A.

The full line-up of guests appears below:

ABC’s “This Week” — Fauci; Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health

NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.); Brenda Sheridan, school board chair in Loudoun County, Virginia; Nikole Hannah-Jones, New York Times Magazine writer; Jelani Cobb of the Columbia Journalism School

CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Harris

CNN’s “State of the Union” — Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), and Fred Upton (R-Mich)

“Fox News Sunday” — Jha; Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) 

Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” — Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and former Trump White House senior adviser Stephen Miller

Tags Anthony Fauci Ben Cardin Debbie Dingell Dr. Anthony Fauci Fred Upton Jim Jordan Joe Biden Kamala Harris Kevin Cramer Mike Pompeo Roy Blunt Stephen Miller Vivek Murthy

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