President Trump celebrates vaccine, economy in New Year's Eve video

In the video posted to Twitter, Trump promoted the success of Operation Warp Speed’s ability to develop a coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on New Year’s Eve posted a video to Twitter celebrating the COVID-19 vaccine, Operation Warp Speed and the U.S. economy.

“In the face of great challenges this year, Americans showed incredible grit, strength, tenacity and resolve,” he said at the beginning of the nearly 5-minute long video. 

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Trump also promoted Operation Warp Speed and the mission’s achievement of developing a coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year. The U.S. has authorized the emergency use of two vaccines, one made by Pfizer and BioNTech and the other by Moderna, but doses will be rationed for months.

Pfizer and BioNTech undertook their own vaccine development, maintaining a more arms-length relationship with the government. However, the companies have since partnered with the federal government to distribute the vaccines. 

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More than 19 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, and nearly 344,000 people have died.

In the past two days, the U.S. has reached a record number of deaths from the coronavirus. More than 15,500 people died from the virus on Tuesday and another 15,000 died on Wednesday.

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In his video, Trump also touted the success of the U.S. economy and the stock market throughout the year.

“Before the pandemic, we built the greatest economy in the history of the world,” he said. “Now we are going it again.”

The pandemic shocked markets early in the year. The S&P 500 fell 8.4% in February, then plunged 12.5% in March as the pandemic essentially froze the global economy. Businesses shut down in the face of the virus threat and tighter government restrictions. People shifted to working, shopping and doing pretty much everything else from home.

Wall Street didn’t stay down for long though, thanks in large part to unprecedented actions from the Federal Reserve and Congress to support the economy. Investors flocked to big technology companies such as Apple and Amazon and smaller companies like Grubhub and Etsy that were poised to take advantage of the shift to working and shopping from home.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week fell by 19,000 to 787,000, but it’s still at a historically high level as a resurgent coronavirus maintains its grip on the U.S. economy. 

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Trump ended his speech by saying, “as long as we remain loyal to our nation, devoted to our citizens and faithful to almighty God, we know that the best is yet to come.”

The video comes after Trump cut his Florida holiday vacation short on Wednesday and planned to return to the White House on Thursday, one day earlier than expected. The White House didn’t explain why. 

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The White House announced the abrupt change in the president’s schedule late Wednesday, hours after Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he will raise objections next week when Congress meets to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

It’s a futile attempt to remain in power that Trump has been pushing following the failure of scores of legal challenges to the election outcome by his campaign, including at the Supreme Court.

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A group of Republicans in the Democratic-controlled House already had said they will object on Trump’s behalf during the Jan. 6 count of electoral votes. They needed at least one senator to join them to force votes in both chambers, and Hawley stepped up.

The GOP objections, however, will not prevent President-elect Jo Biden from being sworn in as president on Jan. 20, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a Black woman of South Asian descent, from becoming vice president.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.