America reaches grim Covid milestone while Trump launches new assault on election result

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

America is waking up this morning to a pandemic surge that is now reaching a new and alarming peak. The country has suffered its worst one-day death toll since coronavirus first arrived here. 

A total of 2,760 American Covid-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday.

The previous highest toll was 2,752 on April 15.

But what is more ominous is that public health experts project that the US toll is about to get much worse as the impact of the Thanksgiving holiday - when extended families are often gathered around a festive dinner table - is fully counted.  

Cold weather that forces people indoors is likely to exacerbate the problem.

In other words, grim as the latest news is, it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

An analysis by the New York Times shows excess deaths this year to have reached 345,000.

That’s 19% higher for the period March 15 - November 14 than in previous years.

Vice president-elect Kamala Harris and president-elect Joe Biden Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP

President-elect Joe Biden has often spoken about the long, dark American Covid winter that awaits the country. That is now being borne out.

The tragedy of course is that it comes just as there is optimism on the near horizon about the vaccines.  But they will come too late for tens of thousands of vulnerable Americans. 

At least, you might assume, President Trump is actively addressing the pandemic in his final days in office, given the scale of the disaster rippling across all 50 states.

In fact, Donald Trump is preoccupied with something else altogether.  Any guesses?

Last night, the President released an extraordinary 45 minute on-camera statement repeating wild (and entirely discredited) conspiracy theories about the election.  

He is entirely concerned with his own political fate, adopting almost every outlandish explanation for why he lost. He posted a shortened version on Twitter.

Not surprisingly, social media platforms issued various warnings about the misinformation that Trump was amplifying to his 100 million followers.

What is clear is that the President - a full month after the election - is still deep in denial about the political reality.

That’s causing even some in his own party to react with despair.

One young Republican congressman simply wrote five words in reply to the President.

It was another Republican - this time the top election official in Georgia - who on Tuesday delivered the most volcanic and furious response to Trump.  

Gabriel Sterling suggested that Trump’s reckless and outrageous claims about fraud would lead to political violence and the possible murder of election officials.

The country is limping towards Inauguration Day with a President in denial and a pandemic tightening its lethal grip.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made clear that the next few months would be the most difficult months in the public health history of America.

Dr Robert Redfield warned: "December to February are going to be rough times.

"I believe they’re going to be the most difficult time in public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that it’s going to put on our health care system."So, yes, there is hope in the near future.  But a great deal of grief and anguish - epidemiological and political - lies between now and then.