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When senior Food and Drug Administration officials held their morning call one day this week, they received a sobering warning from the agency’s chief, Dr. Stephen Hahn, who had just gotten off the phone with the White House: Block out "all the craziness” afoot and stay focused on fighting the pandemic, he said.

There are plenty of distractions. President Donald Trump is pushing to overturn the results of the election, and his only public statements about the coronavirus in the last few days were to make clear his pique that good news about a vaccine had not come until after Election Day — even as the average number of new daily infections topped 123,000, average daily deaths passed the 1,000 mark and COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a record high of 61,964.

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