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Rising Covid cases take a toll on Biden's standing

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.
Image: Joe Biden
Joe Biden walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, on July 28, 2021.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Just a little more than a month ago, Covid cases in the U.S. had flatlined to an average of about 10,000 a day, as President Joe Biden was declaring the country’s independence from the virus.

Now cases have shot up to an average of nearly 100,000, especially in less-vaccinated parts of the country, and it’s all taken a toll on Biden’s handing of the issue.

According to a new CNBC poll — conducted by the same Democratic and Republican firms who do the NBC poll — Biden’s approval rating for his handling of the coronavirus has dropped 9 points from 62 percent among all adults in April to 53 percent now.

Biden’s overall approval rating in the poll is at a middling 48 percent.

And per a Quinnipiac poll released yesterday, 53 percent of Americans approve of his Covid handling — down from 65 percent in May.

His overall approval rating in the Q-poll is at 46 percent.

As we’ve said before, how Covid goes in the United States, so goes the Biden presidency.

“If he gets [vaccinations] right, he will oversee a less pessimistic American public; he’ll get a stronger economy; and he’ll do something that his predecessor was unable to execute in his final days,” we wrote the day before Biden’s inauguration.

Make no mistake: The sky isn’t falling for Biden; his overall numbers are as strong or stronger than Trump’s ever were during his four years as president.

But all the numbers are a reminder that Biden’s political situation doesn’t improve until the Covid situation does.

Biden vs. DeSantis

By the way, the overall Covid situation in the United States had led to exchanges like this.

Here was Biden on Tuesday: “[I]f you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing,” the president said of governors who he said are not using their office and resources to defeat the virus. “Use your power to save lives.”

And here was Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis yesterday firing back at Biden: “If you’re trying to deny kids a proper in-person education, I’m going to stand in your way and I’m going to stand up for the kids in Florida. If you’re trying to restrict people, impose mandates, if you’re trying to ruin their jobs and their livelihoods and their small business, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way and I’m standing for the people of Florida.”

(For the record, Biden has called for schools to be open, and he isn’t imposing lockdowns.)

DeSantis added, “Why don’t you do your job, why don’t you get this border secure and until you do that, I don’t want to hear a blip about Covid from you.”

(Also for the record, Florida doesn’t share a border with Mexico or any another country.)

It’s become a tried and true practice for Republicans: When in doubt, talk about the border — even if your state is thousands of miles of away for the U.S.-Mexico border.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

35,470,411: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 122,557 more than yesterday morning.)

618,60: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 668 more than yesterday morning.)

348,102,478: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 725,329 since yesterday morning.)

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

60.7 percent: The share of all American adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

50 percent: The share of new cars and trucks sold by 2030 that the White House wants to be electric. Top automakers announced Thursday they were aiming for a similar goal.

Net-zero: The carbon emissions goal by 2050 that Exxon is considering pledging, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Prosecutors are investigating New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as lawmakers warn impeaching him could take months.

Mississippi and Arkansas are among the states running out of intensive care unit beds amid the latest Covid surge.

The Washington Post breaks down what we know about the new delta-plus variant.

And here’s what vaccinated parents of kids under 12 should know about the delta variant.

Officer Michael Fanone speaks with Time Magazine about the Jan. 6 attack and its aftermath.

In Texas, progressive Jessica Cisneros is once again challenging Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.

A federal judge ordered lawyers who filed a case in Colorado questioning the results of the 2020 election to pay the legal fees of their opponents as punishment for the “frivolous” filing.

Kansas GOP Sen. Jerry Moran joined the bipartisan group backing the infrastructure deal, but has voted against it moving forward twice.