US Election 2020: Surge of early voting hits record levels ahead of US election | US News


Eight days ahead of Americans going to the polls, early voting turnout has surpassed that of the 2016 election.

Almost 60 million people have already cast their ballots, with the pace of early voting suggesting this election could lead to the highest voter turnout in more than a century.

Most votes have been cast in Texas, California and Florida so far, according to the US Elections Project, with the majority thought to be backing Joe Biden.

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Biden: We’ve got to come together

It’s adding pressure on Donald Trump, as he continued to chase a comeback with visits on Sunday to the battleground states of New Hampshire and Maine.

While Mr Biden, who has been much less visible on the campaign trail, keeps a lower profile speaking at a virtual concert. The former vice president has more to lose at this stage but his lead is much narrower in many of the battleground states that will decide this election.

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‘I voted for a guy named Trump’

Speaking at his latest rally in New Hampshire on Sunday, President Trump once again told supporters “we’re rounding the turn” and the pandemic will soon end.

But it’s not even over in his own White House.

Infection has now spread to the vice president’s team with at least five members testing positive for COVID-19. Mike Pence and his wife have both tested negative, and he does not plan to alter his campaign schedule.

Meanwhile, it’s understood Mr Trump plans to hold up to five rallies a day in the final stretch, returning to Pennsylvania again on Monday. He won the key swing state by fewer than 45,000 votes in 2016 and even a marginal change there could flip it back to the Democrats.

This comes as positive coronavirus cases spike in the battlegrounds states of Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The US recorded more than 84,000 positive cases on Friday – its highest count so far in a 24-hour period, with hospitalisations increasing in 38 states in the last week.

The country looks set to be entering its toughest months for coronavirus yet the pandemic continues to converge with politics.



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Thanksgiving, fewer restrictions contributing to Canada’s record breaking surge in COVID-19 cases: experts


TORONTO —
Experts say there are a variety of factors contributing to Canada’s recent surge in record breaking COVID-19 cases including Thanksgiving celebrations, fewer restrictions and increased testing capacity.

Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease expert at the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University in Montreal, told CTVNews.ca family gatherings that occurred two weeks ago are a “likely contributor to the higher numbers of cases that many provinces have been reporting” in recent days.

Quebec continues to be the epicentre of the pandemic in Canada, surpassing more than 100,000 confirmed positive cases in the province on Sunday. Ontario, the second hardest hit province, registered more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time, setting another record for the number of infections in a single day.

Ontario’s Ministry of Health says Thanksgiving may be to blame for the spike while Alberta’s top doctor also cited the holiday as the source of surging coronavirus cases there.

“The leading source of exposures for active cases right now are close contacts, and many of the cases that we are seeing now are the result of spread over Thanksgiving when families gathered together,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in her provincial update on Thursday.

“People did not mean to spread COVID, but it is a reminder where social gatherings, where social distancing and masking are not used consistently are a significant risk for spread.”

Prairie numbers confirm the situation is growing more dire, with Alberta yet again breaking two records on Friday, reporting an unprecedented 432 new cases and 3,651 active cases ahead of the weekend.

Saskatchewan announced 78 new cases of COVID-19, making it the second province to report a new single-day high on Saturday, while Manitoba recorded 153 new cases and two additional deaths, the fifth consecutive day new cases have topped 100.

However, Oughton warned that the Thanksgiving holiday is not the only reason why cases are increasing across the country.

“Understanding why these transmissions are occurring in real time is important if we want to identify new risk factors and reduce numbers of new infections before we see increases in more vulnerable populations,” Oughton explained in an email on Sunday.

He said the change in weather may have more Canadians spending time indoors with poorer ventilation and in closer proximity to others compared to the summer months, giving more opportunities for transmission.

In addition, Oughton said provinces may be seeing higher case numbers now than during the first wave because testing capacity has increased in many areas. For example, Quebec’s goal was to conduct 14,000 tests per day during the first wave. Now, the province is recording around 25,000 tests each day.

“It is possible that there were more cases in the first wave that were never tested, and that those ‘missed’ cases were more similar to the cases we are seeing today,” Oughton said.

MORE RESTRICTIONS NEEDED

Despite the Thanksgiving holiday being over, Dr. Ronald St. John, the former director-general of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, is not sure that case numbers will now begin to decrease.

He told CTV news Channel on Sunday that the steady upwards trends of infections is worrisome.

“The important thing… is to look back over a period of days to see what the trend might be, and when I say trend I mean are cases going up at a steady rate, or are they actually accelerating?” St. John said. “And it looks like it’s a fairly steady trend upwards.”

St. John said COVID fatigue may be a reason why cases are continuing to increase as Canadians grow tired of taking virus precautions.

“We have a problem in terms of the public health measures that we can use to try to contain this virus. They depend on people’s behaviour, individually and collectively… and I think people are getting very tired and as a result, I think there are some lapses in following the precautions recommended by authorities,” he explained.

St. John warned that fewer virus restrictions and a decreased compliance with those restrictions may add to the surge of infections in the coming days.

“This virus will step in wherever somebody makes an exception to the public health measures, and this virus will cause more infections, chains of infections and death increases as we’ve seen in these provinces,” he said.

Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor in the department of medicine at the University of Toronto who studies infectious diseases, says the rising tide of cases across much of Canada appears unlikely to recede if stricter measures are not imposed.

“This is a disease that grows exponentially … and when things ramp up quickly they come on with gangbusters. We’ve seen that everywhere else around the world right now, especially in Europe,” Morris previously told The Canadian Press.

“As it moves to older adults, you’re going to see more people proportionally with severe disease. I believe we’re at a point right now where these increases are largely inevitable unless there’s more substantial action to try to tamp all of this second wave down.”

Morris said tighter limits on group gatherings and indoor activities may be necessary.

“It is a mindset … When the public hears that there’s still a fair amount of freedom from the government, what that also tells them is that it really isn’t so bad right now,” he said.

On Sunday, Canada’s top physician warned that minimizing the impact of COVID-19 will only work if everyone follows public health guidelines.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the number of Canadians experiencing severe illness is already on the rise amid the spike in cases, raising concerns about hospital capacity.

To ensure ICUs don’t become overwhelmed, she reminded Canadians to keep physically a part.

“While I know keeping physically apart is difficult, particularly when we want to mark life’s important moments like weddings and funerals, now is not the time for hosting large in-person gatherings,” Tam said in a written statement.

“Right now, doing the best thing to keep our family, friends and community safer means keeping safely apart, connecting virtually, and finding safer ways to care and support each other.”

She implored Canadians to continue doing their part to help limit the spread of COVID-19 by keeping social circles small, maintain physical distancing and hand hygiene, and wear face masks when appropriate.

With files from The Canadian Press



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Covid surge hangs over US election in closing days


US states were grappling with surges in coronavirus cases that threatened to overwhelm hospitals as Donald Trump and Joe Biden staged competing campaign rallies on Saturday with just 10 days to go until the presidential election.

Mr Trump’s intense schedule included three battleground states — North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin — on Saturday as he tries to catch up with his Democratic rival, who is leading in national polls by 8.7 percentage points, according to Financial Times analysis of Real Clear Politics data.

At his first rally in Lumberton North Carolina, Mr Trump insisted the US was “rounding the turn” on coronavirus, despite several states posting record one-day increases in new Covid-19 infections on Friday. These included the critical swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“We are doing great. Our numbers are incredible,” Mr Trump said at the rally on Saturday afternoon. Mr Trump blamed the media for focusing on the infection numbers, which he said were the result of widespread testing.

“That is all I hear about now . . . turn on television, Covid, Covid, Covid,” he said. “We show more cases because we test.”

“Americans are tired of all this negativity.”

The US reported 82,668 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, down from a record one-day high of 83,010 on Friday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Deaths also edged down to 885 from 916 on Friday.

Ohio, where Trump spoke Saturday evening, reported a record-high 2,858 new cases on Saturday, up from 2,518 on Friday. Illinois, the sixth most populous state, on Saturday reported 6,161 new confirmed cases and said 63 more people died from the virus. On Friday, Chicago restarted a curfew and ordered bars to close for indoor service. 

More than 216,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 — a higher total than any other country.

Mr Biden, the Democratic challenger, on Saturday toured Pennsylvania, a swing state where Mr Trump beat Hillary Clinton four years ago by a razor-thin margin of some 44,000 votes.

“It’s go-time, folks. It’s game day,” Mr Biden told a drive-in rally in Bucks county, just north of Philadelphia. “We have 10 days left. And it may come down to Pennsylvania. The choice has never been clearer and the stakes have never been higher.”

The former vice-president, who has sought to make November’s election a referendum on Mr Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, tore into the president’s public health record.

A supporter waits at a drive-in rally for former US President Barack Obama to campaign on behalf of Democratic presidential nominee and his former Vice-President Joe Biden in Miami, Florida on Saturday © REUTERS

“Yesterday, while he’s telling everything’s all right, we saw the highest number — 85,000 new cases in one day — since this pandemic began,” Mr Biden said. He has said that if he were president, he would mandate mask-wearing in federal buildings and in interstate travel, and encourage state governors and local officials to do the same in their jurisdictions.

Amid public health concerns about voting on election day, at least 56m Americans have already voted early, either by mail or in-person, according to the University of Florida’s US Elections Project.

Mr Trump, who changed his official residence from New York to Florida last year, voted early, in-person, on Saturday morning at a library in West Palm Beach.

The president told reporters that it was a “very secure vote” and everything was perfect”, adding: “I voted for a guy named Trump.”

Campaigning for his former vice-president in Miami, Florida, ex-president Barack Obama said that Mr Trump would be the first US president to actually lose jobs because of his “botching” of the pandemic response.

“He did inherit the longest streak of jobs growth in American history that we got started. But just like everything else he inherited, he fumbled it,’ Mr Obama said.

“The only people who are truly better off than they were four years ago are the billionaires who got Trump tax cuts.”

Mr Obama said his administration had left Mr Trump a “playbook” on how to respond to a pandemic.

“It must be lost along with the Republican healthcare plan,” he said.



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Bookings surge for holidays to the Canaries, as new travel corridors announced



Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday announced the addition of travel corridors to the Canary Islands, Mykonos, the Maldives and Denmark. This means that holidaymakers returning from any of these destinations after 4am on Sunday October 25 will not be required to quarantine.

All of the new additions – bar Denmark, which is not permitting UK residents to enter unless they have a “worthy” reason – are now viable options for half-term holidays or autumn breaks.

The surge in interest, particularly in the Canary Islands with average high temperatures of 25C in October, has been almost immediate, with the race very much on to find the best last-minute half-term and autumn deals.

Already, flights have hiked in price. On Thursday, there were return flights of just £34 to Tenerife although they rose to £51 within half an hour of the announcement, and by Friday morning they were at £183. Flights to Lanzarote have jumped from £100 to £179 in less than 24 hours, with few direct options left. 

This comes as little surprise as a recent pool by flight comparison site Skyscanner revealed that the Canary and Balearic Islands topped the list of the most wanted restriction-free travel corridor destinations to be added to the UK safe list (20%).  Following the announcement, traffic to the Skyscanner website increased over 100%. 

Jo McClintock, Brand Director at Skyscanner commented: 

“The Canaries are a popular mainstay for British travellers, pre Covid–19 the islands offering year-round sunshine regularly featured in our top ten booked destinations. The addition of the Canaries to the quarantine exemption list ahead of the English half term holidays will be well received by our travellers.”

Scroll down for the latest updates.





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Germans start ‘hamstering’ toilet paper again as COVID-19 cases surge


October 22, 2020

BERLIN (Reuters) – Sales of toilet paper and disinfectants are on the rise again in Germany, the country’s statistics office said on Thursday, as Europe’s largest economy struggles with a second coronavirus wave.

“Hamster purchases are starting again,” the office said on Twitter, using a German phrase for panic-buying or hoarding.

Sales of toilet paper surged by 89.9% last week when compared to pre-crisis levels, while disinfectants (up 72.5%) and soap (up 62.3%) were also in high demand, it said in a separate statement.

Germany has had more success in containing the pandemic than other large European countries such as Britain and France, but case numbers have increased steadily over the past weeks.

On Thursday Germany for the first time reported more than 10,000 new daily COVID-19 infections.

Data released in April showed that stocking up on daily essentials ahead of anticipated lockdown and quarantine measures caused German retail sales to surge far beyond expectations in February.

(Reporting by Thomas Seythal)





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New Surge of COVID Infections in America


By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporters

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 21, 2020

A third surge of coronavirus cases now has a firm grip on the United States, with an average of 59,000 new infections being reported across the country every day.

That tally is the highest since the beginning of August, and the likelihood is high that the country will soon see the most new COVID-19 infections a day since the pandemic began, The New York Times reported.

This latest surge differs from the previous two: Instead of acute outbreaks in specific regions, such as the Northeast this spring and the South this summer, the virus is now simmering at a worrisome level across nearly the entire country, the Times reported. Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming each set seven-day case records on Tuesday. Even New Jersey, which managed to bring the virus under control last spring, has seen a doubling in cases in the past month, the Times reported.

“It is a really dangerous time,” Dr. Tom Inglesby, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told the newspaper. “The majority of states are on the rise. There are very few places where things are stable and going down.”

Even more troubling is the fact that this latest surge is coming as cooler weather is forcing people indoors and many Americans report they are fatigued by months of social distancing and travel restrictions, the Times reported.

“We’re seeing spread virtually everywhere,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said during a news conference Tuesday. In his state, 69 of 88 counties are now considered “high incidence,” meaning at least 100 virus cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, the Times reported.

But instead of imposing new measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, Dewine said that, “The fastest way we can do it is not for me to issue some order that you can’t enforce or would be difficult to enforce, but rather for every Ohioan to take this seriously,” he said, grabbing his cloth mask and holding it up, the Times reported.

In North Dakota, which is leading the nation in new coronavirus cases per capita, hospitalizations and deaths are at a high, and just 20 intensive care beds were available statewide.

Luckily, the climbing case count has not yet translated to increased deaths: About 700 people are dying from COVID-19, on average, each day. So far, more than 220,000 Americans have died from the virus.

CDC Recommends Face Masks for Public Transportation

Seeking to slow the spread of coronavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Monday that face masks be worn by everyone in all public transportation settings.

That includes both passengers and people working in stations, terminals and airports across the country, CBS News reported.

So far, the Trump administration has not issued any national mandate on face coverings, instead leaving that decision to state and local leaders.

In the new interim guidance, the CDC called masks “one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission.” Wide use of masks helps protect those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as workers who frequently come into close contact with other people in airports, bus terminals, train stations and seaports, the guidance stated.

Most U.S. airlines, Amtrak and many other transport companies already require passengers and staff to wear masks, CBS News reported. The CDC urged passengers and workers on all airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and ride-shares to follow suit.

For months, research has shown that face masks help curb the spread of COVID-19. In the new guidance, the CDC said everyone “should wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when waiting for, traveling on, or departing from public [transportation]. People should also wear masks at an airport, bus or ferry terminal, train or subway station, seaport, or similar area that provides transportation.”

The guidance also urges transport operators to “refuse boarding to anyone not wearing a mask and require all people onboard, whether passengers or employees, to wear masks for the duration of travel,” with exceptions for eating, drinking and medical disorders that prohibit mask wearing.

Reopened NYC schools not seeing surge in COVID cases

Three weeks after becoming the first big urban area to reopen public schools since the pandemic began, New York City is not seeing a feared surge in cases among students and staff.

Instead, health officials are seeing a surprisingly small number of COVID-19 cases, the Times reported.

Of the more than 15,000 staff members and students tested randomly in the first week of its testing regimen, the city has gotten back results for close to 11,000. There were only 18 positives: 13 staff members and five students, the Times reported. Even better, when officials put mobile testing units at schools near the Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods that have had new outbreaks, only four positive cases surfaced in more than 3,300 tests conducted since the last week of September, the newspaper said.

New York City is facing fears of a second wave of the virus fueled by local spikes in Brooklyn and Queens, and official have closed more than 120 public schools as a precaution, the Times reported.

Still, the sprawling system of 1,800 public schools is a bright spot as the city tries to recover from a pandemic that has killed thousands and weakened its economy.

When the city reopened its school system in September, roughly half of the city’s students opted for hybrid learning, where they are in the building some days, but not others. The approach has enabled the city to keep class sizes small, the Times reported.

“That data is encouraging,” said Paula White, executive director of Educators for Excellence, a teachers group. “It reinforces what we have heard about schools not being super spreaders.”

COVID continues to spread around the globe

By Wednesday, the U.S. coronavirus case count passed 8.3 million while the death toll neared 221,000, according to a Times tally.

According to the same tally, the top five states in coronavirus cases as of Wednesday were: California with over 887,000; Texas with more than 879,000; Florida with over 760,000; New York with over 491,000; and Illinois with more than 356,000.

Curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the rest of the world remains challenging.

Several European countries are experiencing case surges as they struggle with another wave of coronavirus infections and hospital beds begin to fill up, the Post reported.

In England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instituted a three-tier lockdown in a bid to slow a startling spike in coronavirus cases across the country. In the past three weeks, new coronavirus cases have quadrupled and there are now more COVID-19 patients hospitalized than before the government imposed a lockdown back in March, the Post reported.

Addressing the nation recently, Johnson warned Britons that the country’s rise in cases was “flashing like dashboard warnings in a passenger jet.”

Things are no better in India, where the coronavirus case count has passed 7.6 million, a Johns Hopkins tally showed.

Nearly 116,000 coronavirus patients have died in India, according to the Hopkins tally, but when measured as a proportion of the population, the country has had far fewer deaths than many others. Doctors say this reflects India’s younger and leaner population.

Still, the country’s public health system is severely strained, and some sick patients cannot find hospital beds, the Times said. Only the United States has more coronavirus cases.

Meanwhile, Brazil passed 5.2 million cases and had nearly155,000 deaths as of Wednesday, the Hopkins tally showed.

Cases are also spiking in Russia: The country’s coronavirus case count has passed 1.4 million. As of Wednesday, the reported death toll in Russia was nearly 25,000, the Hopkins tally showed.

Worldwide, the number of reported infections passed 40.8 million on Wednesday, with over 1.1 million deaths, according to the Hopkins tally.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



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Two Victorian schools closed as COVID cases spread to social housing block, Alerts for Bathurst 1000 visitors after virus found in raw sewage, Coronavirus cases surge across US, Australia death toll at 905


“This timeframe allows for the department to ensure the community is aware of the situation and for residents to get tested and get their results back before determining what the next steps are,” Victoria’s commander of testing and community engagement, Jeroen Weimar, said.

“We’re asking all these residents to come forward for asymptomatic testing at the dedicated testing station on site.”

The East Preston Islamic College has been closed for deep cleaning after it was revealed a student who was supposed to be self-isolating as they were a close contact of a positive case had attended school due to a misunderstanding.

“The college has taken positive steps to manage this situation and is working closely with us. It has been closed for deep cleaning,” Mr Weimar said.

“We need everyone working together to tackle this virus, and that’s exactly what the school community is doing. Staff and students who are close contacts – and their households – have been identified and are quarantining for 14 days.

“Extensive contact tracing is underway and we expect that as part of this work, additional cases will be detected.”

The Dallas Brooks Primary School has also been closed for deep cleaning.

A text message was sent to residents in the northern suburbs, urging them to get tested if they experienced any symptoms.

Pop-up testing sites and a community outreach program will be launched today.

Banyule Community Health and Himilo Community Connect will doorknock the area on Thursday to alert residents to the outbreak and provide information about testing and supports like financial assistance for missing work.

“We’re asking everyone who lives in this area or who has loved ones linked to these suburbs to please get tested if they have symptoms and to share this information within their families and broader community,” Mr Weimar said.



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Europe’s hospitals under major stress as COVID-19 cases surge


To complicate the situation, widespread coronavirus fatigue and the frightening economic impact of the crisis have eroded broad public support for the lockdowns ordered earlier in the year to stop health services from being overwhelmed.

Unwilling to shut down their countries again, governments have sought less drastic measures to limit public gatherings and balance the need to keep their economies turning with holding back the pandemic.

According to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Europe has registered more than 5 million cases and 200,000 deaths, with new cases beginning to spike sharply from the end of September.

While well below levels at the peak of the crisis six months ago, COVID-19 hospital admissions and occupancy are again high – defined as at least 25 per cent of the peak of the pandemic – or rising in 20 countries, its latest weekly summary said last week.

European countries boast some of the world’s best health services and doctors say that with the benefit of almost a year’s experience with the new coronavirus, they are much better equipped to treat individual patients clinically.

However, the capacity of hospitals to handle a wave of COVID-19 patients, as well as people suffering from cancer, heart disease and other serious conditions, is still vulnerable.

Dutch health authorities said that if the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital wards continues to grow, three quarters of regular care may have to be scrapped by the end of November, and there were similar warnings from Czech authorities.

“We have hit a wall on clinical beds,” said Wouter van der Horst, spokesman for the Dutch hospital association NVZ.

‘We couldn’t get to everyone’

As hospital admissions have spiralled, much attention has been focused on intensive care units, which came close to being overwhelmed in many areas during the first wave of the crisis.

Authorities in Lombardy, the Italian region at the centre of the earlier wave, on Wednesday ordered the reopening of special temporary intensive care units set up in Milan and Bergamo that were shut down as case numbers receded.

Already, a number of regional health authorities in Germany, one of the countries that dealt with the first wave most effectively, have agreed to take in intensive care patients from other countries.

The ECDC said that some 19 per cent of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are estimated to have ended up in hospital and 8 per cent of those could require intensive care, but variations are wide both across Europe and within individual countries.

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On Wednesday, Poland’s health minister said up to 30 per cent of new cases there could end up being hospitalised.

There has also been concern over the track and trace systems meant to keep local outbreaks of the disease under control but which have proven ineffective in many areas.

On Wednesday, authorities in Ireland, where the five-day case average has tripled since the start of October, said there were no longer enough officials to keep the system working.

Niamh O’Beirne, national lead for testing and tracing, told RTE radio that contact tracing centres had seen “unprecedented demand” with exponential growth in the number of cases, “and over the week we simply couldn’t get to everyone”.

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Europe’s hospitals under major stress as COVID-19 cases surge


To complicate the situation, widespread coronavirus fatigue and the frightening economic impact of the crisis have eroded broad public support for the lockdowns ordered earlier in the year to stop health services from being overwhelmed.

Unwilling to shut down their countries again, governments have sought less drastic measures to limit public gatherings and balance the need to keep their economies turning with holding back the pandemic.

According to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Europe has registered more than 5 million cases and 200,000 deaths, with new cases beginning to spike sharply from the end of September.

While well below levels at the peak of the crisis six months ago, COVID-19 hospital admissions and occupancy are again high – defined as at least 25 per cent of the peak of the pandemic – or rising in 20 countries, its latest weekly summary said last week.

European countries boast some of the world’s best health services and doctors say that with the benefit of almost a year’s experience with the new coronavirus, they are much better equipped to treat individual patients clinically.

However, the capacity of hospitals to handle a wave of COVID-19 patients, as well as people suffering from cancer, heart disease and other serious conditions, is still vulnerable.

Dutch health authorities said that if the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital wards continues to grow, three quarters of regular care may have to be scrapped by the end of November, and there were similar warnings from Czech authorities.

“We have hit a wall on clinical beds,” said Wouter van der Horst, spokesman for the Dutch hospital association NVZ.

‘We couldn’t get to everyone’

As hospital admissions have spiralled, much attention has been focused on intensive care units, which came close to being overwhelmed in many areas during the first wave of the crisis.

Authorities in Lombardy, the Italian region at the centre of the earlier wave, on Wednesday ordered the reopening of special temporary intensive care units set up in Milan and Bergamo that were shut down as case numbers receded.

Already, a number of regional health authorities in Germany, one of the countries that dealt with the first wave most effectively, have agreed to take in intensive care patients from other countries.

The ECDC said that some 19 per cent of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are estimated to have ended up in hospital and 8 per cent of those could require intensive care, but variations are wide both across Europe and within individual countries.

Loading

On Wednesday, Poland’s health minister said up to 30 per cent of new cases there could end up being hospitalised.

There has also been concern over the track and trace systems meant to keep local outbreaks of the disease under control but which have proven ineffective in many areas.

On Wednesday, authorities in Ireland, where the five-day case average has tripled since the start of October, said there were no longer enough officials to keep the system working.

Niamh O’Beirne, national lead for testing and tracing, told RTE radio that contact tracing centres had seen “unprecedented demand” with exponential growth in the number of cases, “and over the week we simply couldn’t get to everyone”.

Sign up to our Coronavirus Update newsletter

Get our Coronavirus Update newsletter for the day’s crucial developments and the numbers you need to know. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here and The Age’s here.

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Covid-19 Live Updates: A Third Coronavirus Surge Has Taken Root in the U.S.


key data of the day

Credit…Tim Gruber for The New York Times

In Ohio, more people are hospitalized with the coronavirus than at any other time during the pandemic. North Dakota, which is leading the nation in coronavirus cases per capita, reported more than 1,000 cases on Tuesday, the state’s worst daily total yet. And as of Monday, 16 states had added more cases in the prior week than in any other seven-day stretch.

After weeks of spread and warnings in certain areas, a third surge of coronavirus infections has now firmly taken hold across much of the United States.

The latest wave — which is raging most acutely in the Midwest and West, but is also spreading in various areas around the country — threatens to be the worst of the pandemic yet.

Its arrival comes as cooler weather is forcing people indoors, setting up a grueling winter that will test the discipline of many Americans who have grown weary of wearing masks and turning down invitations to see family and friends. Over the past week, the country has averaged about 59,000 new cases a day, the most since the beginning of August. The daily total could soon surpass 75,687, a record previously set on July 16.

The high case count — which has so far not translated to soaring deaths — in part reflects increased testing. With about 1 million people tested on many days, the country is getting a far more accurate picture of how widely the virus has spread than it did in the spring.

But the latest developments also reflect a serious new level of the outbreak. Hospitalizations, the most accurate picture of how many people are seriously sick from the virus, are on the rise nationwide, worrying many public health officials. And a rise in deaths tends to lag behind a spike in cases.

Deaths among hospitalized patients have also dropped from 25.6 percent in the spring to 7.6 percent, according to one study. That may be because doctors have better treatments at hand, and the patients are younger and in better health on average than those in the first wave.

Still, Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota, recently offered an ominous warning: with infections rising and compliance eroding, he said, “the next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.”

Credit…Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Despite an uptick of coronavirus cases in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, New York officials said on Tuesday that travelers from those three neighboring states would not be required to quarantine, though each state meets the qualifications for the restriction.

The announcement came with no small amount of confusion: A senior adviser to the governor confirmed that Pennsylvania would be added to the quarantine list, and Mr. Cuomo later indicated in a news conference that New Jersey and Connecticut would not be required to quarantine, but he did not initially mention Pennsylvania.

But the governor later clarified in a statement that enforcement from Pennsylvania would also be too difficult to maintain, considering the vast number of people who cross the state’s northern border into New York and its eastern border into New Jersey.

That rationale was also articulated by Mr. Cuomo in reference to Connecticut and New Jersey, two neighbors to New York that have worked together for months to try to coordinate response to the coronavirus crisis.

“There is no practical way to quarantine New York from New Jersey and Connecticut,” Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, said in a morning news conference. “There are just too many interchanges, there are too many interconnections, there are too many people that live in one place and work in the other.”

Adding to the confusion, Beth Garvey, special counsel to Mr. Cuomo, said during the morning news conference that New Jersey and Connecticut were both “being added” to the list on Tuesday, despite Mr. Cuomo earlier suggesting they would not be. In a brief aside after Ms. Garvey’s remarks, the governor said “Pennsylvania, we have the same basic issue.”

None of the states were on a quarantine list released on Tuesday afternoon by the governor’s office.

Still, Mr. Cuomo said that all nonessential travel among New York and the three states should be avoided and promised he would issue more guidance on that point on Wednesday.

New York did add two states to its list on Tuesday: Maryland and Arizona. All told, 40 states and territories are now on the travel advisory list, which Mr. Cuomo referred to as “really a bizarre outcome” considering that New York once faced one of the worst outbreaks in the country.

On Tuesday, more than 64,200 new cases and at least 517 new deaths were reported in the United States. Over the last week, there have been an average of 59,269 cases per day, an increase of 34 percent from the average two weeks earlier, and fears are growing in New York about a potential second wave. Two weeks ago, Mr. Cuomo closed nonessential businesses in parts of Queens and Brooklyn where positivity rates had spiked.

Since late June, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have worked in concert to create a list of states from which travelers to the region are subject to a two-week quarantine.

Essential workers have been exempt from the quarantine since it began in June.Other workers who cross state lines have technically been subject to the advisory, but officials have also said that the quarantine is only required by those who spend at least 24 hours in a state on the list — which would exclude most commuters.

The quarantine was intended to apply to any person arriving from an area with a positivity rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

New Jersey has a population of about 8.88 million people, and so anything over an average of about 888 new cases puts the state above that threshold. According to a New York Times database, New Jersey has seen an average of 1,016 cases per day in the last week, an increase of 54 percent from the average two weeks earlier.

For Connecticut, the threshold is around 356, and its daily average in the last week was at 378 cases per day.

Though New York has seen a significant increase in cases in parts of New York City and its suburbs, its overall positivity rate has remained lower than its neighbors. On Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo said the daily rate was 1.32 percent statewide, and 2.91 percent in the so-called “red zones,” areas where he recently imposed severe restrictions as virus hot spots sprang up across the state. Hospitalizations in the state increased by eight, to 942.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that the citywide seven-day average positivity rate was at 1.58 percent.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, told Republican senators privately on Tuesday that he has advised the White House not to strike a deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a new stimulus bill before Election Day, cautioning against reaching an agreement that most in the party cannot accept.

Mr. McConnell’s counsel, confirmed by three Republicans familiar with his remarks, threw cold water on Mr. Trump’s increasingly urgent push to enact a fresh round of pandemic aid before he faces voters on Nov. 3. It underscored the divisions within the party that have long hampered a compromise.

Ms. Pelosi had said earlier on Tuesday that she was “optimistic” a deal could be reached with the Trump administration in the coming days. But Republicans are growing increasingly anxious that Mr. Trump and his team are too eager to reach a multitrillion-dollar agreement and are conceding far too much to the Democrats. Republicans fear that scenario would force their colleagues up for re-election into a difficult choice of defying the president or alienating their fiscally conservative base by embracing the big-spending bill he has demanded.

Republicans in the Senate were also concerned that any vote on such a package could interfere with the Senate’s hasty timetable for confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by early next week. Mr. McConnell said he told the White House he was particularly concerned a deal before then could inject unwanted unpredictability into the schedule, according to the Republicans, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss a closed party luncheon.

Mr. McConnell made it clear that he knew his counsel was likely to leak out, making reference to the possibility that his remarks could appear in the news media, two of the Republicans said.

A short time later, outside the hearing room where Republicans met privately, Mr. McConnell told reporters the Senate would consider a broad bipartisan stimulus deal if the White House and Democrats struck one. But he would not say if it would hold a vote before Election Day, and members of his leadership team have warned that Republican votes could be hard to come by in the chamber.

“If a presidentially supported bill clears the House, at some point we’ll bring it to the floor,” he said, without elaborating on the timetable.

Ms. Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, were scheduled to discuss the matter at 3 p.m. Tuesday. “Hopefully, by the end of the day today, we’ll know where we all are,” the speaker said in an interview on Bloomberg TV.

On Sunday, Ms. Pelosi said that to pass a bill before the election, a deal would have to be reached within 48 hours. But in the interview on Tuesday, she softened that time limit, saying instead that legislation would have to be finished by the end of next week for aid to begin flowing by Nov. 3.

“It isn’t that this day was the day that we have a deal,” Ms. Pelosi said. “It was a day that we would have our terms on the table to be able to go to the next step.”

Mr. McConnell planned a test vote later Tuesday on a narrow measure that would revive the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular small-business loan program. While Democrats support the program, they are expected to oppose the narrow bill, contending that a far broader package is needed.

Credit…Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Researchers at Imperial College London are planning to deliberately infect healthy volunteers with the coronavirus early next year as part of the world’s first effort to study how people immunized with different vaccines respond to controlled exposure to the virus.

The study, known as a human challenge trial, is scheduled to begin in January at a quarantine facility in London with 34 million pounds, or $44 million, of British government funding, the government announced on Tuesday.

Such a study could save time in the race to winnow down a large number of vaccine candidates.

Rather than testing vaccines the usual way — by waiting for vaccinated people to encounter the virus in their homes and communities — researchers would expose them to the virus in a controlled setting.

In the first stage of the study, scientists will try to determine the smallest doses of the virus required to infect people. The scientists will test gradually increasing doses of virus on up to 90 healthy volunteers from 18 to 30 years old until they reach a level that reliably infects them.

Once they have decided on a dose — potentially by late spring, the government said — researchers will begin to compare a set of coronavirus vaccine candidates by immunizing people and then deliberately infecting them. The government will decide which vaccines to test, but it has not announced them yet.

It is possible that by early next year, some of the vaccine candidates now undergoing trials will have already received approval.

But experts in medical ethics are divided over whether such a study is acceptable, largely because there is no highly effective treatment for Covid-19. The Imperial College London researchers said they would use the antiviral medicine remdesivir, but that drug has been found to have only modest benefit. Most other challenge trials have involved diseases like cholera and typhoid, which can be quickly and reliably cured with drugs.

Another concern is that the illness caused by the coronavirus is unpredictable, and although young people in general do not become gravely ill, there have been unexpected and unexplained cases of severe illness in young patients.

The trial will need approval from Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency before volunteers are enrolled, and it will be monitored by independent experts once it begins, the researchers said.

At least initially, the challenge trial will involve only young, healthy volunteers, meaning the findings may not fully apply to the people at greatest risk of severe illness from Covid-19 — older people and those with underlying health problems.

The researchers said volunteers would be compensated for their time taking part in the trial and their two to three weeks in quarantine following infection. About 2,000 people in Britain have expressed interest in taking part in challenge trials through an American group, 1Day Sooner, that advocates for such studies.

The trial will be run by Imperial College London together with hVivo, a company that specializes in human challenge trials. It will initially be held at a hospital in north London.

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Johnson Announces Highest Coronavirus Restrictions for Manchester

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said the highest level of coronavirus restrictions would be imposed for Manchester, which includes forbidding indoor socializing by people from different households.

Across the world, the countries that are waging the most successful fights against coronavirus are adopting regional and local measures to protect their populations. And that’s why last week, we launched the three local Covid alert levels for England with interventions based on the prevalence of the virus in local areas. Since then we’ve been undertaking discussions with local leaders in those parts of the country, which are currently bearing the brunt of the second wave of this epidemic. I don’t want anybody to think that your actions, our actions, are in vain or the efforts in vain because our collective action across the country has brought the R number well below its natural rate of about 3. As a result, the virus is not spreading as quickly as it did in February and March. Informed by the data that we’ve just seen, I can announce that Greater Manchester will move to the Very High Alert level. That means that pubs and bars must close unless they’re serving substantial meals. Households can’t mix indoors or in most outdoor settings. In some public outdoor spaces, groups must be limited to the Rule of Six. And we strongly advise against travel into and out of the area.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said the highest level of coronavirus restrictions would be imposed for Manchester, which includes forbidding indoor socializing by people from different households.CreditCredit…Jon Super/Associated Press

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain announced on Tuesday that Greater Manchester, the country’s second-largest urban area, would be put under the highest level of virus restrictions, shutting many pubs and bars and forbidding indoor socializing by people from different households.

The announcement came despite opposition from the area’s mayor, Andy Burnham, who had pushed for greater financial aid for affected residents, and amid a spike in cases around Europe that has reinvigorated the debate over how to balance economic and health concerns.

“I know these restrictions are tough on businesses and on individuals,” Mr. Johnson said. “Not to act would put Manchester’s N.H.S. and the lives of many of Manchester’s residents at risk.”

Mr. Johnson pointed to the area’s growing outbreak — it has reported more cases over the last seven days than any other place in England, according to a Times database. He added that he hoped that local officials would work with the central government to implement the restrictions, which take effect Friday.

The government will provide some 22 million pounds in aid, which Mr. Burnham argued was woefully insufficient. Talks over relief funds collapsed shortly before the announcement was made, though Mr. Johnson indicated they could be restarted.

“At no point today were we offered enough to protect the poorest people in our communities through the punishing reality of the winter to come,” Mr. Burnham said.

In London on Tuesday, Heathrow Airport, the country’s largest, began offering rapid tests for £80 ($104) to Hong Kong-bound passengers to meet its entry requirements, in an effort to encourage travel. The service will initially be offered for four weeks, and passengers must book it ahead of time. The tests will be done by private-sector nurses, with results expected within an hour.

Ireland on Monday became the first European country to reimpose a national lockdown, in a dramatic U-turn for the government, which two weeks ago fell short of imposing the highest level of restrictions despite advice from public health experts. The six-week period will begin on Wednesday.

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Ireland Reimposes National Lockdown

Ireland will impose a six-week lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus cases with the hope of reopening in time for Christmas.

In the effort to suppress the virus, we have already introduced what is probably Europe’s strictest regime. As a result of this, we can see some evidence that these restrictions have been effective in slowing the growth and spread of the virus. However, as the daily figures show, these restrictions on their own have not been enough to significantly reduce the levels of infection. The government has decided that the evidence of a potentially grave situation arising in the weeks ahead is now too strong. Therefore, for a period of six weeks, from midnight on Wednesday night, the entire country will move to Level 5 of the framework for living with Covid-19. Even as the winter comes in, there is hope and there is light. If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way. Every Christmas is important, but this year it is particularly so.

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Ireland will impose a six-week lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus cases with the hope of reopening in time for Christmas.CreditCredit…Paul Faith/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

And in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy, the original center of the country’s outbreak, officials announced that they intended to impose a curfew aimed at curbing nightlife, especially in Milan, starting Thursday.

“The curfew is the best solution to hit the contagion, and it shouldn’t have serious repercussions on the economic situation,” Lombardy’s president, Attilio Fontana, told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Tuesday, “It will allow us to avoid stricter measures.”

The president of Campania, in southern Italy, said on Tuesday that he would also request a curfew. He said previously that the move was aimed at preventing Halloween celebrations, which he labeled “immense, stupid Americanata.”

Italians are desperate to avoid new lockdowns after enduring Europe’s longest one. But Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday that while officials were preparing to avoid a generalized lockdown, more circumscribed ones could not be ruled out.

Credit…Arun Sankar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a televised address Tuesday night, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India urged citizens to tighten up their vigilance against the coronavirus as the Hindu festival season approaches.

“Recently, we saw many photos and videos which clearly proved that people have lowered their guard,” he said. “This isn’t right.”

In the next few weeks, more than a billion Indians will celebrate several major Hindu holidays, including Dussehra and Diwali, and authorities are worried about people packing together.

India is rapidly catching up to the United States in terms of its reported infections, almost 7.6 million known cases there compared with 8.2 million in the United States. India had been outpacing the United States in new infections, reaching nearly 100,000 new daily infections in mid-September. But in recent days that number has come down. As of Monday, the seven-day average for new daily cases in India was approximately 61,000, according to a New York Times database, just slightly higher than the average over the same time in the United States.

Some experts say that the decline might reflect that the virus is reaching a plateau in India. Other scientists caution that the decrease could also be explained by a shift in testing methods. India is increasingly using cheaper, less reliable rapid antigen tests.

Mr. Modi said that the precautions taken by Indians since the pandemic started have left India in a “stable situation.” But he cautioned that “We must not let it deteriorate.”

He emphasized that India’s death rate remained much lower than those of the United States and other Western countries. And he promised that his government was making “all efforts” to ensure that every Indian has access to a coronavirus vaccine once it is available.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

It has becoming increasingly clear that while most people infected with the coronavirus have a relatively mild disease, symptoms can be gravely serious for some, leading to hospitalization, serious complications and death. But how much more dire are its consequences than those of influenza, which infects an estimated 45 million Americans each year and kills an average of 61,000?

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now have some estimates, based on data from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a paper published in the Oct. 20 issue of the C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Jonathan Cates and his colleagues found that hospitalized coronavirus patients had a higher risk of 17 complications as compared with hospitalized flu patients, including more than twice the risk of pneumonia. Covid patients were also more than five times as likely to die in the hospital — 21 percent of them died there, compared with 3.8 percent of those hospitalized with flu. More than a third of the Covid patients were admitted to an intensive care unit; fewer than a fifth of influenza patients spent time in an ICU.

Black and Hispanic Covid patients did worse than white ones, with greater risks of respiratory, neurological and kidney complications.

The V.A. data were from the electronic health records of 3,948 patients hospitalized with Covid between March 1 and May 31 and 5,453 patients hospitalized with flu between Oct. 1, 2018 and Feb. 1, 2020.

Credit…Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

Argentina has become the fifth country in the world to surpass one million confirmed Covid-19 cases.

With a population of around 45 million, Argentina is by far the smallest country on the list, which also includes the United States, India, Brazil and Russia, according to worldwide tracking by The Times.

Almost 100,000 of Argentina’s cases have been detected in the last seven days, reflecting how infections are soaring in the country, and experts worry that the true total could be far higher. Argentina’s reported test positivity rate has hovered around 50 percent for weeks and has reached as high as 75 percent, but the reliability of that data has been questioned recently, with reports that many negative test results were not recorded.

Argentina reported 12,982 new cases and 451 deaths on Monday. In total, 26,716 people have died of the coronavirus in the country, a fatality rate of 2.7 percent, according to the Health Ministry.

Argentina received praise early in the pandemic for imposing a strict quarantine in mid-March. It closed its borders and managed to keep the coronavirus largely under control while other South American countries, including neighboring Brazil, suffered gigantic outbreaks.

Though certain restrictions have since been relaxed, much of Argentina remains under some type of lockdown order.

Once concentrated in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, the virus has since spread to much of the country, including remote areas with scarce medical resources, even though domestic flights and long-distance buses and trains have largely been grounded.

Argentina’s early success in controlling the virus, which was accompanied by a sharp increase in approval ratings for President Alberto Fernández, led to what some critics call an undue focus on the lockdown as the main strategy to combat the crisis.

“What they failed to do in parallel was containment and mitigation of the pandemic,” said Adolfo Rubinstein, an epidemiologist who was health minister under the previous president, Mauricio Macri, who was defeated by Mr. Fernández last year. “They needed to go out and detect community cases early, and mitigate the expansion of the pandemic.”

Credit…Carlo Allegri/Reuters

To reduce the number of students sent home to quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus, the Billings Public Schools, the largest school district in Montana, came up with an idea that has public health experts shaking their heads: Reshuffling students in the classroom four times an hour.

The strategy is based on the definition of a “close contact” requiring quarantine — being within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more. If the students are moved around within that time, the thinking goes, no one will have had “close contact” and be required to stay home if a classmate tests positive.

Greg Upham, the superintendent of the 16,500-student school district, said in an interview that contact tracing had become a huge burden for the district, and administrators were looking for a way to ease the burden when they came up with the movement idea. It was not intended to “game the system,” he said, but rather to encourage the staff to be cognizant of the 15-minute window.

In an email to administrators last week, Mr. Upham encouraged staff to “whenever possible, disrupt the 15-minute timeline through movement, distancing, and masking.”

Infectious disease experts say that moving students around every few minutes is actually more likely to increase transmission of the virus, by exposing more people to an infected student. It will also complicate contact tracing efforts, they said.

“That is not an evidence-based practice or sound scientific policy,” said Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the John Hopkins Center for Health Security who has been supportive of reopening schools for in-person instruction.

The 15-minute, 6-foot definition is a guideline for identifying who might be at greater risk of infection, not a hard-and-fast rule about when it can or cannot happen, Dr. Nuzzo said, adding that a person can certainly become infected in less time or from farther away, especially indoors.

Dr. Sarah Fortune, chair of the department of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard’s school of public health, said the 15-minute definition was meant to help contact tracers “effectively and efficiently identify people with the highest risk and target intervention to them.”

Kelly Hornby, principal of Billings West High School, wrote in an email to his staff last week that moving students around every few minutes and then returning them to their original desks would help dissipate airborne droplets containing coronavirus, to the point “where the risk of being contaminated is greatly reduced.”

Dr. Fortune disagreed with that idea. “The particles that transmit Covid, they hang out in the air, and they spread through the air, and the aerosols can hang out for a very long time,” she said. “So stirring that air up or moving around from your spot doesn’t really limit your exposure or risk.”

Credit…Dana M. Paxton/Norton Telegram, via Associated Press

At the Andbe Home, a private nursing home in northern Kansas, a single resident tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 7. Two weeks later, all 62 residents have become infected, along with at least 12 staff members, and 10 of the residents have died.

That is how hard, and how fast, the virus can hammer the vulnerable in the rural Great Plains and Mountain West, where the pandemic is now raging. States in the region that were little affected in the spring and summer and tended to see the virus as a distant threat now have some of the highest per capita infection rates in the country.

“It is with great sadness and concern that I announce that we have a full Covid outbreak in our home, despite the precautions we have been taking since March,” Megan Mapes, the administrator of the Andbe Home, wrote Friday on Facebook.

The home has barred all visitors, and residents are isolated in their rooms, Ms. Mapes wrote.

Covid-19 is known to be particularly lethal to adults in their 60s and older who have underlying health conditions, which has put nursing home populations at a higher risk of being infected and dying. In 15 states, the number of residents and workers at nursing homes who have died accounts for at least half of all deaths from Covid-19.

Coming in a small community, such an outbreak inevitably hits home for many people. “My grandmother was one of the 10 deaths,” Jamie McCreery posted on Facebook. “I’m shattered and angry, but not at this facility or the workers,” who have known the residents and their families for many years.

With a population of just 5,400, Norton County, where the Andbe Home is located, is the hardest-hit county in Kansas right now, relative to its size. The county is grappling with two serious outbreaks — in the nursing home and in the Norton Correctional Facility, a state prison where 18 prisoners and three officers have tested positive. Of the 340 cases the county has reported in all, more than 300 have come this month.

The virus spreads readily in congregate living facilities like prisons, group homes and college dorms, and nursing homes have suffered some of the worst outbreaks, because older people with health issues are among the most vulnerable to the disease.

More than 540,000 coronavirus infections and more than 84,000 deaths have been reported among residents and employees of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database.

Deaths in the facilities represent about 38 percent of total coronavirus deaths in the country, a slight decline from late June, when nursing homes made up about 43 percent of U.S. deaths. However, the decline may be temporary, experts warn, amid a new surge of cases.

The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, which represents more than 14,000 nursing homes and assisted living communities across the country, released a report on Tuesday warning that U.S. nursing homes could be facing another spike.

Danielle Ivory, Mitch Smith and Timothy Williams contributed reporting.

Credit…Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The the second-largest public school system in California is overhauling its grading system in an attempt to address what its board of trustees said were “discriminatory practices” that have worsened during the pandemic.

The San Diego Unified School District, with about 105,000 students, said it would de-emphasize behavioral factors like classroom conduct, allow students to retake tests, and base each student’s final grade more on the student’s grasp of material at the end of the grading period, rather than on homework, quizzes or mid-term exams.

“We’re not getting rid of grades; we’re not eliminating homework; we’re not eliminating attendance as a responsibility for students,” said Richard Barrera, the vice president of the board. “But if a student gets a few bad grades and then aces the final, we’re saying that shouldn’t just average to a C.”

Mr. Barrera said the new district-wide “standards-based grading” policy, approved last week, was already being used in the system’s elementary schools and is now being expanded into middle and high schools.

The idea was under discussion before the pandemic, stemming from disproportionate numbers of failing grades among Black and Latino students, and from the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota. But it gained new urgency this fall, as the difficulties of remote learning deepened disparities in student performance.

Only 7.2 percent of white students in San Diego’s secondary schools received grades of D or F in the last school year, according to district data, compared with 20 percent of Black students, more than 22 percent of Latino students and more than 23 percent of Native American students.

Forty-six percent of the district’s students overall are Latino, 12 percent are Asian-Pacific Islander, 8 percent are Black and a small proportion are Native American, he said. Two-thirds of the teachers are white.

“We focused on becoming an anti-racist school district,” Mr. Barrera said.

The grading change has drawn criticism from some conservatives, who say it diminishes the idea of academic excellence. But Kevin Beiser, a trustee who teaches middle-school math in a nearby district, said standards-based grading is meant to mitigate inequities like teachers conflating behavior with academic achievement, or affluent students having greater access to tutors.

“It doesn’t matter when you learn how to solve for x in algebra, as long as you learn it before the end of the school year,” he said.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump doubled down on Tuesday attacking Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top disease expert, saying “he’s been wrong” throughout the pandemic.

“The only thing I say is he is a little bit sometimes not a team player. But he is a Democrat,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday during an interview with Fox News. Mr. Trump has previously said without evidence that Dr. Fauci is a Democrat, even as Dr. Fauci has served in both Republican and Democratic administrations.

A day earlier, Mr. Trump attacked Dr. Fauci as “a disaster” during a conference call with his campaign staff just two weeks away from the election. “People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots,” he said on the call.

Dr. Fauci has been distancing himself from the White House and has warned Americans to “hunker down” and prepare for a difficult winter — a message that directly conflicts with Mr. Trump’s rosy assessment that the country is rounding a corner on the virus, even as it set a record recently for the highest number of new virus cases in a day since July.

“It’s good if people trust him,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday, blaming news media for pitting the two men against each other.

Dr. Fauci’s position is “a view,” Mr. Trump said, adding that the president’s new virus adviser, Dr. Scott W. Atlas, has “a different view.”

Dr. Atlas is a neuroradiologist with no experience in infectious disease or epidemiology.

“By the way, everybody has a different view,” Mr. Trump said.

At a campaign rally Monday evening in Prescott, Ariz., Mr. Trump invoked Dr. Fauci as a way of ridiculing the coronavirus plan of his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Biden wants to lock it down. He wants to listen to Dr. Fauci,” the president said, referring to coronavirus-related restrictions on the economy. (Dr. Fauci, addressing a group of pathologists last week, said no one wants to “shut down the country again.”)

The Biden campaign, which has been emphasizing a promise to listen to science over politics, responded with relish: “Mr. President, you’re right about one thing: The American people are tired. They’re tired of your lies about this virus.”

Global Roundup

Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Chinese vaccines have been administered to 60,000 people in clinical trials, many of them around the world, and none of them have experienced any serious adverse reactions, a senior Chinese official said on Tuesday.

The figures came from Tian Baoguo, a senior official at China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, who spoke at a news conference. “Initial results show that they are safe,” he said.

China has four vaccine candidates in Phase 3 trials, the last stage of testing before regulatory approval. Because the outbreak is largely under control in China, these trials are conducted in more than 10 countries.

Within China, the Chinese government has not waited for clinical trials to conclude before vaccinating tens of thousands of people. Officials have already laid out plans to give shots to even more people, citing emergency use. But scientists have warned that taking a vaccine that has not completed Phase 3 trials carries health risks. On Sunday, the eastern Chinese city of Yiwu stopped the sale of a coronavirus vaccine after dozens of people demanded to be inoculated over the weekend.

China is expected to produce up to 610 million doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of this year, Zheng Zhongwei, head of China’s coronavirus vaccine development task force said at the news conference, adding output will grow next year.

In other developments around the world:

  • Starting Tuesday, Heathrow Airport in London will offer one-hour coronavirus tests to travelers to Hong Kong and Italy, which require arriving passengers to show a negative test result. Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, typically sees more than 80 million passengers a year.





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