When Joe Biden is inaugurated as United States president on January 20 he will inherit the legacies of Donald Trump and one of the worst will be a coronavirus pandemic that is out of control during the depths of winter.
Public health experts who had pinned their hopes on a Biden presidency could barely celebrate because the skyrocketing number of Covid-19 cases heralded daunting challenges ahead. The two-month wait before he takes power also means the country will not immediately get a long-overdue organised federal response to the pandemic.
Coronavirus infections are already surging at an unprecedented rate, passing the milestone of 10 million cases with the last million accumulating in just 10 days. An average of 130,000 cases per day were recorded in the past week and hospitals are being flooded with patients, including nearly 67,000 in hospital as of Thursday.