Coronavirus updates: US sets another record with 126,742 new cases; world surpasses 50 million cases – USA TODAY

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The U.S. set another daily record for coronavirus cases and the world surpassed 50 million total cases Sunday as President-elect Joe Biden promised to do what President Donald Trump could not: “Get this virus under control.”

The U.S. recorded 126,742 cases Saturday, the third day in a row the total exceeded 120,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The United States, with about 4.3% of the world population, has about 20% of the cases.

Some infectious disease experts believe the U.S. and global numbers are conservative, saying many people are asymptomatic and haven’t been tested.

Daily U.S deaths are also rising: More than 1,000 were reported Saturday. South Dakota was one of four states reporting a record number of deaths for the week. On Saturday, Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted about her state’s thriving job market, posting smiling pictures of herself arm-and-arm with elderly residents – no social distancing and no masks.

Here are the latest headlines Sunday:

  • The day President Donald Trump turns the White House over to Joe Biden, COVID-19 will remain just as big a threat to Americans. Here’s how the strategy for tackling it will change dramatically.
  • Massachusetts is trying a 10 p.m. curfew to stem the growing COVID-19 outbreak there. Can it work?

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 9.8 million cases and more than 237,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 50 million cases and 1.2 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

New Jersey poised to announce more restrictions as cases surge

New Jersey, which along with New York was hit hard early in the pandemic, is facing fast-rising numbers once again. An additional 5,250 people residents were diagnosed with coronavirus infection over the weekend, including 3,207 in one day – the highest number in a single day since last spring. Four deaths were reported in New Jersey on Sunday, for a total of 14,629 since the pandemic began.

Details of new restrictions may come at Gov. Phil Murphy’s regular press briefing on Monday. He has already warned residents not to travel out of state unless it is absolutely necessary and warned he was “close” to announcing new steps to try to control the spread. 

“We will clearly be taking action,” Murphy said. “I hope it will be action that balances all the various challenges and interests.” 

– Lindy Washburn, NorthJersey.com

Ex-FDA commissioner says ‘apex’ of pandemic could be Inauguration Day

The pandemic won’t be over in 2021 but it will be a much better year than 2020, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb says. Gottlieb also predicted that the country would see a record number of hospitalizations this week. When President-elect Joe Biden takes over in January the nation will probably “be at the apex of what we’re going through right now,” Gottlieb said on “Face the Nation.” Gottlieb also said he does not believe the U.S. will have a traditional inauguration that brings together hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall.

The country will be in the “thick of the worst point” of he pandemic in January, he said.

Cuomo says he expects Americans finally ‘will get how serious this is’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that he thinks there will be a different tone on the coronavirus after the election and that finally “Americans will get how serious this is.” Cuomo said President-elect Joe Biden’s leadership should ease political pressure to deny the risks associated with COVID-19. 

“I think you’ll even see some (Republican) governors start to take a different tone now that Mr. Trump is out of office,” Cuomo said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think you’ll see scientists speak with an unmuzzled voice now.”

President-elect Joe Biden stresses ‘getting COVID under control’

President-elect Joe Biden, addressing the nation for the first time since he was declared the winner Saturday, said the coronavirus pandemic was first on his list of issues he wants to tackle immediately upon taking office Jan. 20.

Biden said he would assemble a group of scientists and experts who will begin working on a Biden-Harris COVID plan on Monday.

“Our work begins with getting COVID under control,” Biden said from Wilmington, Delaware. “We cannot repair the economy, restore our vitality or relish life’s most precious moments – hugging a grandchild, birthdays, weddings, graduations, all the moments that matter most to us – until we get this virus under control.” He said the plan “will be built on a bedrock of science. It will be constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern. I will spare no effort – or commitment – to turn this pandemic around.”

North and South Dakota hit hard; governors reject mask mandates

North Dakota and South Dakota have the nation’s worst rate of deaths per capita over the last 30 days. With winter approaching and hospitals scrambling to make room for COVID-19 patients, medical experts worry that virus deaths will continue to climb in a region where people have been slow to adopt mitigation measures such as wearing masks.

The Republican governors of both states have derided government orders to help halt the outbreaks, leaning on ideals of limited government.

North Dakota reported 309 people died from COVID-19 in the last 30 days, more than all other periods combined. The state shot to the top of the nation in deaths per capita in the last 30 days, with roughly 41 deaths per 100,000 people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

South Dakota reported 252 deaths, a 98% increase in the last 30 days. It had a death rate of roughly 29 people per 100,000 over the last 30 days, according to the Johns Hopkins data.

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health, called the states a “cautionary tale” of the consequences of ignoring the science of the virus and public health initiatives. Jha noted that the region started experiencing a steep climb in cases after the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, a two-week event that drew nearly 500,000 people.

Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, 5 other staffers have coronavirus

President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows has the coronavirus, according to reports Friday. It wasn’t clear when he tested positive, but multiple news outlets said Meadows informed a group of advisers of his diagnosis after Election Day. Five other White House officials also tested positive for the virus in the days before and after Election Day, people familiar with the diagnoses told The New York Times.

His positive test comes a month after Trump’s own bout with the virus, which saw him hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in early October. In the wake of Trump’s diagnosis, several White House aides also tested positive for the virus, including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and former counselor Kellyanne Conway. Melania and Barron Trump also were positive.

At least five aides to Vice President Mike Pence, including his chief of staff Marc Short, tested positive last month as well, according to reports.

– Jeanine Santucci

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has COVID-19 antibodies

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz told USA TODAY on Saturday morning that he has tested “positive for antibodies,” indicating that he had the virus at one point. He said he has no plans to quarantine and does not know where he picked up the antibodies. 

“No symptoms. Feel great. Going paddle boarding today,” he told USA TODAY in a text message. In March, Gaetz was accused of making light of the coronavirus outbreak when he wore a gas mask in Congress after one of his constituents died from COVID-19.

“Made light?!?! I was quite serious,” the Florida Republican tweeted in response to a Washington Post headline that claimed he had been doing exactly that. “The threat to Congress is real, as I explained based on travel and habits like selfies and handshakes.”

– Ledyard King

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker tests negative for COVID-19

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and staff who attended a meeting Monday where they were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 have tested negative, the governor’s office said in a statement Saturday. The office conducted PCR tests Friday afternoon – the second negative test result for the governor and staff after they underwent their weekly test on Wednesday, the office said. 

The governor and staff who attended the meeting were not considered close contacts because they met with the person who was infected prior to 48 hours before symptom onset, and per CDC guidance, will not be required to quarantine.

Illinois, meanwhile, reported more than 12,000 new daily cases Saturday – the same week the state broke 10,000 daily cases for the first time.

– Grace Hauck

What does a Biden presidency mean for another stimulus package?

President-elect Joe Biden has voiced support for a robust relief measure that includes another federal bonus to weekly unemployment benefits, more aid for struggling small businesses and financially distressed states, and another round of stimulus checks to most households.

The big question: Which party has the majority in the Senate? Last month, the Democratic House passed a $2.2 trillion package while the Republican Senate has favored a $500 billion plan.

If Republicans keep control, lawmakers likely would approve a $1.5 trillion stimulus, possibly late this year, according to Moody’s Analytics and Oxford Economics. If the Democrats wrest control, Mark Zandi of Moody’s expects a $2 trillion package that could match the $600 jobless aid provided to unemployed Americans earlier this year instead of a reduced amount.

But economist Nancy Vanden Houten of Oxford Economics believes even a Democratic Senate would opt for a $1.5 trillion measure to preserve space for other spending initiatives. Read more here.

– Paul Davidson

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

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Contributing: The Associated Press

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