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Biden's non-Covid agenda takes center stage as virus starts to subside

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks before signing the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act in the East Room of the White House on May 20, 2021.
Vice President Kamala Harris listens as President Joe Biden speaks before signing the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act in the East Room of the White House on May 20, 2021.Evan Vucci / AP

WASHINGTON — Back in January, the United States was seeing, on average, about 200,000 new daily Covid-19 cases and 3,000 related deaths per day.

By April, those numbers had dropped to about 70,000 new cases and some 700 fatalities per day.

Now as we approach Memorial Day? It’s down to an average of approximately 30,000 cases and 500 deaths a day — the lowest numbers here since last summer.

It’s pretty clear proof that the vaccines are working.

Consequently, the United States is now witnessing packed crowds at major golf tournaments, near-capacity attendance at NBA playoff games, fewer masks, graduation ceremonies and more reunions with friends and families.

And when it comes to politics, the dominant storyline has moved from the virus and even the vaccination rate, to the fate of President Biden’s non-Covid-related agenda on infrastructure and policing (more on that below).

That’s a BFD.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

33,281,701: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 62,475 more than Friday morning.)

593,944: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,439 more than Friday morning.)

285,720,586: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

36.1 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated.

Legislative deadlines coming and going

As for Biden’s non-Covid-related agenda, two of the president’s self-imposed deadlines are coming up, NBC’s Mike Memoli, Kristen Welker, Carol E. Lee and Leigh Ann Caldwell report.

One of those includes reaching a deal on police reform by the anniversary of George Floyd’s death (which is tomorrow), and making “progress” with Senate Republicans on infrastructure by Memorial Day.

And so unless something radically changes today and this week, Congress is going to blow past both deadlines.

Per Memoli, Welker, Lee and Caldwell, Biden will mark tomorrow’s anniversary of George Floyd’s death by meeting with Floyd’s family at the White House — instead of with congressional negotiators.

"The president has spoken repeatedly to how meaningful his relationship with the Floyd family is to him," an official told NBC News, "and on the first anniversary of George Floyd's passing it is important to him to hear from them about their perspective on this moment in our history and the progress that must be made in order to stop the agonizing trend of people of color being killed at the hands of law enforcement and to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."

And on infrastructure, “Republicans declared that they were ‘further apart after two meetings with White House staff than they were after one meeting with President Biden’” — after the White House released its $1.7 trillion counterproposal.

The reality is that achieving bipartisan deals in the 50-50 Senate remains incredibly difficult.

Especially in a political environment where Senate Republicans appear poised to filibuster the creation of a bipartisan commission to examine what happened on Jan. 6.

Tweet of the day

Good (and bad) polling news for Andrew Cuomo

A new Siena College poll of New York contains good and bad news for embattled Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The good news: A plurality of New York voters — 49 percent — say he should not resign from office.

The bad news A majority of voters — 53 percent — say they prefer voting for someone else rather than re-electing him in 2022, while a generic Democrat leads a generic Republican in next year’s gubernatorial race by a 55 percent-to-29 percent margin.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The contours of the culture war around child care look a lot like they did 50 years ago, NBC’s Allan Smith writes.

The Supreme Court could really shake up the 2022 midterms.

Some Republicans are speaking out about Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s latest controversy.

Here’s why you should keep an eye on the latest out of Belarus.

Members of the House are concerned about their safety at home as they head back to their districts.

Democrats want to keep others in their party not named Gavin Newsom off the ballot in the California recall.