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Lost in the Washington shuffle: Covid cases rise before Thanksgiving

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.
President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference in the State Dining Room at the White House on Nov. 6, 2021.
President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference in the State Dining Room at the White House on Nov. 6, 2021.Samuel Corum / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — It’s been a busy week on Capitol Hill and at the White House — the censure of Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s marathon speech, House Democrats on the cusp of passing their social spending bill and President Biden signing the bipartisan infrastructure bill into law.

But as we approach next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, we begin with a story that’s surprisingly gotten lost in all of those political developments: U.S. Covid cases are once again on the rise.

It comes as the United States continues to average approximately 1,000 Covid-19 deaths a day, as Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that hospitalizations are rising among the fully vaccinated and as European countries — which have been precursors to spikes in U.S. cases — are reimposing lockdowns or considering them.

Back on another holiday, July 4, President Biden declared the country’s independence from the coronavirus. Or close to it.

“Two hundred and forty-five years ago, we declared our independence from a distant king. Today, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. That’s not to say the battle against Covid-19 is over. We’ve got a lot more work to do.”

When he said that, the U.S. reported about 600,000 fatalities from the coronavirus. Today, it’s more than 771,000.

Now there’s been good news for Biden to tout in the fight against Covid: More than 70 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated; children ages 5-11 can get the vaccine; deaths are down considerably from their peak when he took office in January (3,000 a day); and the FDA is expected to approve booster shots for all adults.

But the bad news for the president is that the United States still hasn’t achieved that independence from Covid-19.

Far from it.

America’s pandemic political divide

Look at these numbers, per MSNBC’s Kailey Wasserman and Ed Demaria, looking at NBC’s 2020 election numbers and the New York Times/CDC Covid stats.

House Democrats on the cusp of passing their social spending bill

“House Democrats postponed a much-anticipated vote on President Joe Biden's social safety net and climate package early Friday morning after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy delayed a final vote with a record-long, wide-ranging and often angry speech,” NBC’s Sahil Kapur, Teaganne Finn and Haley Talbot report.

“McCarthy, who began speaking at 8:38 p.m., brought his marathon speech to an end at around 5:04 a.m. to cheers and applause from House Republicans. He had long since crossed the eight-hour mark and broken a record set by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for the longest speech on the House floor.”

Our take on all of the activity: There’s been lots of theater — whether it was McCarthy’s filibuster-like speech or this entire House bill (which is going to get changed/revised/pared down in the Senate).

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

8 hours and 32 minutes: How long House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke on the House floor last night, breaking the House record as he criticized the Democrats’ social spending package.

$160 billion: How much the Congressional Budget Office projects the Build Back Better plan will add to the deficit in the next 10 years (the White House believes its tax enforcement will bring in more revenue and make the bill pay for itself).

2: The number of Iranians charged with interfering in the 2020 American presidential election.

47,539,839: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 99,908 more since yesterday morning.)

771,568: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,189 more since yesterday morning.)

446,250,342: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,461,156 more since yesterday morning.)

32,469,881: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,005,212 since yesterday morning.)

58.9 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

70.7 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Wisconsin Republicans are floating supporting criminal charges against the state’s election commission, with Sen. Ron Johnson calling for the GOP-controlled state legislature ignore the bipartisan commission and set its own guidance for federal elections.

The New York Times profiles Maria Butina, the Russian convicted for spying in America (a charge she denies) who is now a member of the Russian Parliament.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said that the House’s Build Back Better plan is “not the agreement the president put out in his framework several weeks ago.”

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told reporters Thursday that “Joe Biden won the election.”