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Week In Politics: Rising COVID-19 Cases, Analyzing Cuban Relations, New Trump Book Out


ANTHONY FAUCI: We are dealing with a formidable variant in the delta variant and the extreme vulnerability of people who are not vaccinated.


Dr. Anthony Fauci yesterday on the rise in coronavirus cases. Also, a week of rising protests in Cuba, a new rash of books with fresh details about the last days of the last administration. We're joined now by NPR's Ron Elving. Thanks so much for being with us, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: New coronavirus cases averaging more than about 28,000 a day. It's more than double what they were a month ago. Masks back on in LA County. Did a lot of people declare victory too soon?

ELVING: Sad to say that appears to be so, Scott. And certainly any sense of victory over COVID has to be far from complete at this point. Numbers are going up again. Many places, the increases are dramatic. You say the average of cases is up that much. The seven-day average for hospitalizations has risen more than a third, and the death rate from COVID is up more than a quarter over that same period.

But we need to also note that these numbers are not evenly distributed. They are disproportionately striking where vaccination rates are low. And that's not surprising, perhaps, but that does not make it less tragic. And the saddest part is the sight of so many Americans in our time simply turning their backs on sound medical advice, listening to naysayers, fearmongers, rejecting scientific fact. It would help if more voices who represent these communities with high degrees of skepticism would speak up and advocate for their best interests.

SIMON: Demonstrations in Cuba this week - protests over poor response to the pandemic and chronic shortages, limits on freedom of speech, assembly and civil liberties. U.S. has to be careful about its response, doesn't it?

ELVING: We need to support these demonstrators and their cause, just as we should be on the side of people who rise up against autocratic governments elsewhere in the world. But we have a long and sordid history of interfering in the affairs of the Cuban people, Scott, often with our own national agenda in mind rather than theirs. Our long-standing embargo, for example, was intended to make life difficult for the communist regime of Fidel and Raul Castro, but it's also made life difficult for Cubans in general, including many who are now in the streets demanding change.

SIMON: New rash of books out now about the last days of the Trump administration with details that have been getting a lot of attention, including - and it is incredible just to utter the phrase - that President Trump wanted to use the U.S. military to essentially stage a coup.

ELVING: Yes, there's a new round of books. They do reveal a great deal of new detail about the final year of Trump's term. But in a sense, it is all reinforcing themes and critiques that we've become familiar with in the hundreds of books and articles already published about the former president and his term in office. Most of the new reporting concerns the final three months of that term - the time of the election, its aftermath, the president's efforts to overturn the election, which became something of an obsession for him in the courts, in the state legislatures and, ultimately, with the insurrection of January 6. Now, we're learning that the uniformed leadership of the armed services, led by General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, resisted any discussion of using military assets in a political way, whether to suppress street protests after the killing of George Floyd to burst their bouts (ph) last summer or to interfere with the orderly transfer of power.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for