White House science office lists 'ending the COVID-19 pandemic' as an accomplishment. It's not over yet.

Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY
·3 min read

WASHINGTON – The White House’s science policy office on Tuesday listed “ending the COVID-19 pandemic” among the Trump administration's first-term accomplishments, as the United States breaks records for new coronavirus cases daily.

The White House attempted to clarify Wednesday after a press release from the Office of Science and Technology Policy listed the "decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease” as a success.

However, the disease has not been defeated, and the White House has signaled they are not going to be able to control it before a vaccine is available.

More: Donald Trump made many promises in 2016 and early in his term. Which has he kept and what is he still working on?

The U.S. reported 489,769 COVID-19 cases in just the last week, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. It's another record high since July when the nation saw a peak in cases.

The death rate has also edged back up to about 800 Americans per day, a level not seen in more than a month, and the seven-day average of daily new cases is nearly 70,000. According to the Covid Tracking Project, nearly 43,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

President Donald Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said Sunday that the Trump administration is "not going to control the pandemic" before a vaccine is available because COVID-19 "is a contagious virus."

More: 'We’re not going to control the pandemic,' Meadows says

Fact check: COVID-19 vaccine won't be ready in weeks, nor mandatory

Leading health officials, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, have maintained that a vaccine likely won't be widely available until mid-2021.

Health officials have stressed preventative measures, such as face coverings and social distancing, as a way to control the spread. The Trump White House and campaign have flouted some of these measures by defying state orders and federal health guidelines. Trump rallies, for example, have left a trail of coronavirus outbreaks.

More: Trump’s campaign made stops nationwide. Coronavirus cases surged in his wake in at least five places.

White House strategic communications director Alyssa Farah attempted to clarify the press release Wednesday, saying on Fox News it was "poorly worded."

"The intent was to say that it is our goal to end the virus," Farah said. "Cases are still rising and we need the American public to remain vigilant. This is the top priority of the president, defeating this virus and rebuilding our economy."

Trump has consistently downplayed the severity of coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, saying it's "going to disappear" approximately 40 times, according to CNN, even as health officials are sounding the alarms as winter approaches.

Hospitals across the country have been straining with a flood of new cases, with some state's considering rationing health care. Medical care sites are being created, and some daily curfews have also been implemented.

El Paso issues daily curfew as COVID-19 patients flood hospitals: 'We are in a crisis stage'

As of Tuesday, the U.S. has recorded more than 8.7 million cases and around 226,000 deaths, more than any other country.

Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, Jessica Flores, Mike Stucka, David Jackson, Matthew Brown, Christal Hayes, Adrienne Dunn; USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: White House science office lists 'ending' COVID pandemic as cases soar.