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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Unhappy New Year: Trump, the GOP, and COVID

IDefying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.  Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 race, which unfolded in the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic.  News about the development and approval of vaccines is good.  Other COVID news is bad.

As of today, 345,847 Americans have died in the pandemic.

Rachel Roubein at Politico:
The calendar will flip over into 2021 with the U.S. well short of its goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans against the coronavirus.

With the pandemic still raging, at least 2.6 million have received the first of two Covid shots while over 12.4 million doses have been delivered to the states, according to the Centers for Disease Control's most recent figures from Wednesday morning. At that rate, it could take years to inoculate 80 percent of the population — the figure public health experts generally say is necessary to achieve herd immunity against the virus.
...
The administration made rosy assessments about what's sure to become the biggest immunization effort in U.S. history, beginning with HHS Secretary Alex Azar's October assertion that the country by year's end could have up to 100 million doses, or enough for 50 million people to be vaccinated with a two-shot regimen. That target was gradually scaled back to having 40 million doses, enough for 20 million people to get vaccinated – a benchmark that federal officials repeatedly cited over the last few months.
At NYT, Michael Shear and colleagues review Trump's reaction to the pandemic:
Throughout late summer and fall, in the heat of a re-election campaign that he would go on to lose, and in the face of mounting evidence of a surge in infections and deaths far worse than in the spring, Mr. Trump’s management of the crisisunsteady, unscientific and colored by politics all year — was in effect reduced to a single question: What would it mean for him?

The result, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former administration officials and others in contact with the White House, was a lose-lose situation. Mr. Trump not only ended up soundly defeated by Joseph R. Biden Jr., but missed his chance to show that he could rise to the moment in the final chapter of his presidency and meet the defining challenge of his tenure.

Tim Elfrink at WP:

Luke Letlow, a congressman-elect from Louisiana, died of covid-19 on Tuesday at a hospital in Shreveport, according to state officials.

Letlow, 41, won a runoff earlier this month to represent the state’s 5th Congressional District, succeeding his former boss, Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.), who did not run again after three terms in Congress.
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As the coronavirus ravaged Louisiana, Letlow urged residents to follow social distancing guidelines and to listen to doctors, noting that Abraham, a physician, had returned to Louisiana to help treat covid-19 patients.

But photos on his Twitter page show he had an inconsistent record of wearing masks while campaigning, sometimes covering his face at meet-and-greets but also speaking indoors without a mask on to rooms of mask-free residents. At a candidate forum in October, Letlow urged the state to ease pandemic restrictions, saying, “We’re now at a place if we do not open our economy, we’re in real danger.”