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As the "very exciting" rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution gets underway in the United States, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, says the country is still experiencing "astronomical" numbers of new infections and deaths. "We've just had a federal government that has given up on any efforts to try and control the pandemic," he says. "What we have to do is get through the next few months with basic public health measures until vaccines become widely available and widely adopted. Until that time, there is no reason to let up whatsoever."
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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
The United States has once again shattered global records for daily coronavirus cases and deaths, with nearly a quarter-million infections reported on Wednesday alone. More than 3,600 Americans died of COVID-19 Wednesday, by far the worst one-day death toll for any nation since the start of the pandemic.
This comes as Politico reports former Trump appointee Paul Alexander repeatedly urged officials at the Department of Health and Human Services to deliberately allow tens of millions of Americans to become infected with coronavirus, promoting a widely discredited approach of herd immunity through natural infection.
In one email to top health officials, Alexander wrote, quote, "Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk " so we use them to develop herd " we want them infected," Alexander said.
The approach has been condemned by the World Health Organization as highly unethical, with disease experts saying it could result in the deaths of millions of people.
This comes as Trump's ally, the former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, is urging Americans to wear masks, citing his hospitalization with COVID-19 in October after a super-spreader event at the White House. Christie spoke in a video posted to his Twitter account.
CHRIS CHRISTIE: You know, lying in isolation in ICU for seven days, I thought about how wrong I was to remove my mask at the White House. Today, I think about how wrong it is to let mask-wearing divide us, especially as we now know you're twice as likely to get COVID-19 if you don't wear a mask, because if you don't do the right thing, we could all end up on the wrong side of history.
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