Home PoliticsPolitical News The Surging Coronavirus Finds a Federal Leadership Vacuum

The Surging Coronavirus Finds a Federal Leadership Vacuum

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Aides said the president believed that Pfizer could have announced the success of its clinical trial before Nov. 3 but deliberately chose to hold up the news, possibly not to taint the company’s vaccine as a last-minute effort to save Mr. Trump’s re-election bid. White House aides were particularly incensed that Mr. Biden publicly said his public health advisers knew of Pfizer’s results on Sunday, before aides said the news had reached the White House.

Beyond Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed, the federal bully pulpit — an essential component of an effective infectious disease response — has largely gone silent. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview on Tuesday that the vaccine would be “a game changer” over time.

But a vaccine is not an immediate panacea, and until doses become widely available — likely in mid-2021 — the nation is in a “difficult situation,” he said, that calls for Americans to wear masks and social distance, and to avoid crowded settings, particularly indoors.

“My message to the American public is: Hang on, help is coming, a vaccine is on its way, we need to all pull together,” Dr. Fauci said.

Washington’s leadership void is raising anxiety in states and cities.

In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday that private indoor gatherings statewide would be limited to 10 people and that gyms, bars and restaurants must close each night at 10.

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, announced a series of new measures, including one that escalated the state’s mask order by threatening to temporarily shut down retailers that fail to comply and another that demanded that private celebrants at events like weddings wear masks and refrain from dancing and games. He said the state would consider new restrictions on bars and restaurants a week from Thursday.

“Wear a mask,” he implored on Wednesday in an address to the state. “Wear a mask, so that your friends, neighbors and family members might live.”

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