This is the Coronavirus Briefing, an informed guide to the pandemic. Sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox.
The virus is surging again in the Northeastern U.S. Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut have reported records for new daily cases in the past week.
The coming months look grim
Votes are still being counted in the presidential race, but no matter who wins, President Trump will lead the country’s response to the virus during the next few months — which look likely to be the bleakest and potentially deadliest period of the pandemic.
Infections are escalating toward a record-breaking 100,000 cases a day, hospitals are strained and deaths are rising. At least 22 states have added more cases over the last week than in any other weeklong stretch of the pandemic, and the country recorded 1,130 deaths on Tuesday, one of the highest daily totals since the surge this summer ended.
In Europe, which is being hit by a similarly ferocious fall wave, many countries have announced fresh restrictions in the last several days to slow the spread of the virus. But there is deep skepticism that the American president will follow suit in the coming weeks.
Even if Mr. Trump is not re-elected, he will keep his job until Jan. 20 and he has been sticking to his message that the country is “rounding the corner” on the virus. He has largely shut down the White House Coronavirus Task Force and has stopped listening to his health officials.
One person Mr. Trump does listen to is Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist who now serves as his coronavirus adviser. Dr. Atlas has questioned the effectiveness of mask wearing and has suggested that the government should let the pandemic run its course — a position that has been adopted by some Republican governors — and one that health experts and epidemiologists say would lead to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.
When the election is decided: If Mr. Trump prevails, Americans can expect him to double down on prioritizing the economy over public health, demanding that schools reopen, and dismissing mask wearing and restrictions on large gatherings in favor of promises of therapeutics and vaccines.
If Joe Biden is elected, he would prepare to put his plan in place for ramping up testing, ensuring a steady supply of protective equipment, distributing a vaccine when available, securing money from Congress for schools and hospitals, and possibly putting in place a national mask mandate.
Student journalists find Covid scoops
As local news hollows out, college journalists are sometimes the only reporters left in town. Now, as American colleges have become a major source of coronavirus outbreaks, with at least 214,000 cases linked to campuses, they are on the front lines of a vital national story.
Often, they have to report on their own campus communities, breaking news about poorly organized administrative responses and irresponsible revelers.
“It’s up to us to report on it,” said Eli Hoff, 19, the managing editor of The Maneater, a student newspaper at the University of Missouri.
Before the semester even started, Hoff and his colleagues broke news about outbreaks in fraternities, which drew prank calls and harassment by Greek members.
“It’s weird being a student reporting on other students,” he said. “Not only am I a student reporting on them, but their actions have such a personal impact on me.”
After a public records request, student journalists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, exposed internal faculty dissent over reopening plans and advance warning from epidemiologists long before school closed for in-person learning early in the semester.
“You could see a direct line from the decisions they made in May,” said Elizabeth Moore, 20, a senior editor at The Daily Tar Heel, the student paper. “That ended up causing some harm. A lot of people got sick, and people got displaced from dorms.”
And, as local journalists, they’re also telling the story of their community as people try to adjust to life during the virus.
“You’re not parachuting in,” Oyin Adedoyin, 21, the editor in chief of The Spokesman, the student newspaper at Morgan State University, Maryland’s largest historically Black university. She partnered with the Poynter Institute to report on health disparities in Baltimore’s Black community. “You literally live it.”
Kenya, where cases are rising, extended a curfew and banned political gatherings.
France, facing a backlash from small businesses closed during a second national lockdown, has ordered big retailers to stop selling books, clothes, toys, flowers and other nonessential items. The order set off chaos and confusion.
A surge in daily infections is forcing a reckoning in the Netherlands, which has long prided itself on efficient government — some say to the point of smugness.
El Paso counted 3,100 cases, a record high, and its hospitals are reaching a breaking point, the El Paso Times reports.
What else we’re following
Voters who saw containing the virus as the most important issue in the presidential race favored Joe Biden.
China is imposing even more stringent rules on those trying to enter the country, including a requirement to show proof of two coronavirus tests taken less than 48 hours before departure, and have them approved by Chinese officials.
New Jersey will release 2,258 prisoners today in an acknowledgment of the risks of the virus in cramped prisons.
A study by Mount Sinai found that around 20 percent of residents of New York City — 1.7 million people — have been infected. Researchers also found that the fatality rate was 1 percent, making the coronavirus 10 times deadlier than the flu, NBC reports.
A farmer who died from the coronavirus last month won a seat in North Dakota’s Legislature.
What you’re doing
This pandemic has made it close to impossible to communicate with our 93-year-old deaf and blind aunt, who is in a nursing home. We used to hug and touch her to get her attention but now that is not an option. So we use her favorite foods and treats to make her aware that we still love her and care enough to visit. The staff passes her blueberries, milk chocolate, potato chips, and cold water from home in a special container she is used to. Then she knows we are somewhere near by. Sometimes her sock-covered toes stick out under the Plexiglas shield so we can tickle her and get her laughing! It is so good to see her smile and chuckle.
— Patricia Alt, Madison Township, Pa.
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