Biden, Trump offer dueling outlooks on coronavirus pandemic

Biden, Trump offer dueling outlooks on coronavirus pandemic
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President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE's and President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to meet House Dems before Europe trip: report 21 House Democrats call for removing IRS bank reporting proposal from spending bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Vulnerable House Dems push drug pricing plan MORE's starkly different outlooks on the coronavirus pandemic were on display in real time on Tuesday, underscoring the distrust and problems that have hindered the country’s pandemic response for months.

Trump took a victory lap during a White House event on Operation Warp Speed, boasting of rapid vaccine development that he vowed would cause cases to “skyrocket down.”

At the same time, Biden was introducing members of his administration’s health team in Wilmington, Del., where he cautioned that “things may well get worse before they get better.”

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Trump closed his event by insisting falsely that he had won the election, telling reporters that “hopefully the next administration will be the Trump administration.” 

The opposing viewpoints played out simultaneously, even as experts warn the former's inability to accept defeat may hamper the latter's ability to address the nation's growing public health crisis and further jeopardize the rollout of a vaccine once it is approved.

In a sharp indication of the changing of the guard, Anthony FauciAnthony FauciIt's time for Fauci to go — but don't expect it to happen The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Budget negotiators: 72 hours and counting CDC director urges Americans to go outside, 'enjoy your trick-or-treating' MORE, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, appeared virtually at Biden’s event to back the president-elect’s call for 100 days of mask-wearing and his desire to vaccinate 100 million Americans in that same time span.

Fauci did not appear at the Operation Warp Speed event, citing a scheduling conflict at the National Institutes of Health.  

No Biden transition officials were invited to the White House event, and Trump was unwilling to acknowledge the reality that the Biden administration will take over in January to pick up on what Operation Warp Speed started. 

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“We’re going to have to see who the next administration is, because we won in those swing states and there was terrible things that went on,” Trump told reporters. “So we’re going to have to see who the next administration is. But whoever the next administration is will really benefit from what we’ve been able to do.”

The White House event was intended to highlight the breakneck speed at which the U.S. had managed to develop two vaccines that proved to be more than 90 percent effective in clinical trials. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to greenlight one of the vaccines, produced by Pfizer, in the coming days. 

“Every American who wants a vaccine will be able to get the vaccine, and we think by spring we’re going to be in a position that nobody would have believed possible just a few months ago,” Trump said in a room of administration officials, most of whom wore masks. 

“They say it’s somewhat of a miracle, and I think that’s true,” he added.

Trump’s vaccine remarks were in some ways overshadowed by who was missing and the president’s inability to acknowledge the severity of the crisis or move on from his own election defeat. In addition to Fauci, representatives from Moderna and Pfizer, the two companies whose shots are expected to be approved soon, were not in attendance.

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Trump, asked what his message was for Americans ahead of the holidays at a time when the virus is raging, pointed to success developing vaccines and repeated a misleading claim that the U.S. leads the world in infections only because of its testing abilities. 

The president also defended holding holiday parties at the White House, where dozens of guests have attended without masks, by arguing that the number of attendees was reduced from past years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discouraged Americans from traveling for Christmas.

Biden, by contrast, has been consistent in cautioning that Americans face a “dark winter,” and on Tuesday he offered concrete objectives for combatting the pandemic in his first 100 days in office: getting 100 million people vaccinated against the virus, requiring masks where he has the authority to do so and getting kids back in school.

“I’m absolutely convinced that in 100 days we can change the course of this disease and change life in America for the better,” Biden said.