By Tomi Kilgore, MarketWatch
The number of deaths as a result of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 rose closer to 1 million globally, and neared 200,000 in the United States on Monday, amid growing concerns that a new surge in cases is being masked by political rhetoric.
The concerns come amid recent reports that the U.K. is considering a second nationwide lockdown, and as data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University showed that new coronavirus cases have increased in about two-thirds of the states in the U.S.
Worries about the new surge in cases helped weigh on the stock market, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.59% sank 664 points, or 2.4%, in afternoon trading, and the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.21% slid 1.9%. See Market Snapshot.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump last week contradicted comments made by his administration’s health experts regarding the timing of when a vaccine might be available, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had to reverse course on new testing guidelines after the New York Times reported that the new guidelines were actually written by the Trump administration and not CDC scientists.
An ABC/News/Ipsos poll released Sunday showed that 69% of Americans surveyed don’t have confidence in the president’s claims regarding a virus, with 53% saying they have no confidence at all, and only 9% saying they have a great deal of confidence in Trump’s claims.
Admiral Brett Giroir, the White House coronavirus testing czar, went on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday to try to assure the public that the U.S. response to the coronavirus won’t be politicized, that when a vaccine is made available that it will be safe and to pound home the point the Americans should wear masks.
“Biology is independent of politics,” Giroir told host Jake Tapper. “[A]ll of the docs, all the public health experts, all of us are really unanimous that it’s important to wear a mask when you cannot physically distance.”
When pressed by Tapper about how effective that message might be, when the indoor political rallies held by President Trump don’t require people to wear masks, despite state mandates, Giroir said, “I just want to repeat what I said, we always encourage the wearing of a mask.”
He said that wearing a mask was “critical” to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. “This needs to be echoed from the local, from the state, from the public, and certainly all of us on the task force want to make sure people understand that.”
Regarding the contradictions in the timing of when a vaccine will be available, Giroir didn’t quite use the phase “alternative facts,” but he did say: “Everybody is right, but they’re talking about different aspects.”
He said the availability of a vaccine depends only on the evidence and the science. And until the science says there is a vaccine that is safe and efficacious, the process of making it available can’t get started.
“So right now, we do not have a safe and effective vaccine,” Giroir said. “I just want to assure the American people that when a vaccine is authorized by the [Food and Drug Administration], it will be based on science and data.”
In other news :
• The “Healthy Sail Panel” formed by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. submitted its recommendations to the CDC, in response to a request for public comment that will be used to inform health guidance and preventive measures related to travel on cruise ships.
The panel’s report, which is more than 65 pages, includes 74 detailed “best practices” to protect the health and safety of guests, crew and the communities where cruise ships sail. Recommendations include testing, the use of face coverings and enhanced sanitation procedures, on board the cruise ships and in the terminals