U.S. records its deadliest day of the pandemic while eyes fixed on mob storming Capitol

One Congressman who was on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives as Congress convened on Wednesday hours later announced he had tested positive.

Early on Thursday morning, newly sworn in Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kan.) said on Twitter that he was not experiencing any symptoms and will not return to the House floor “until he is cleared to do so.”

Members of Congress spent hours convened during proceedings meant to count the electoral college votes of President-elect Joe Biden. Those proceedings were interrupted when hordes of rioters — many maskless — forced their way through barricades, some scaling the walls of the Capitol building, in a violent day that ended with four people dead. Overnight, shaken lawmakers affirmed Biden’s win.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tweeted Thursday that the agency was “committed to a peaceful and orderly transition of power over the next 13 days,” and adding that more than 300 meetings have been held, since before the Thanksgiving holiday, with Biden’s transition team as the incoming administration readies to take over the response to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 5.3 million people have received at least the initial dose of a coronavirus vaccine and nearly 17.3 million doses have been sent to states as of Wednesday morning.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins acknowledged in a live interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday that U.S. vaccine distribution got off to a “rocky beginning” but added he was “not totally surprised by that.”

“The nexts couple of weeks are going to be really critical to see how we can get this distribution system up and going more smoothly,” Collins said, adding: “We had this remarkable plan that [Operation] Warp Speed had put in place to have doses ready to go the very next day after the FDA approval but that’s a lot of logistics … So maybe we shouldn’t be too shocked that it didn’t go like clockwork.”

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