Cases accelerate in the U.S.
Today may be a pivotal day in the United States, and we’re not talking about the election.
The country is close to surpassing 100,000 cases in a single day for the first time since the pandemic began. Yesterday, the U.S. recorded more than 93,500 cases, its second-highest total ever.
What’s perhaps most frightening about the latest surge to grip the country is how quickly cases are increasing. Last Monday, the U.S. had less than 75,000 cases, and at the beginning of October, the country was averaging 43,000 a day.
Infections are widespread and trending upward in 41 states. Twenty-two states set weekly case records including Washington State, Pennsylvania and Missouri. But the hardest hit states continue to be North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, which contain 14 of the 17 metro areas with the most cases per capita.
The U.S. is now averaging more than 500,000 cases per week. For some perspective, only 15 countries outside of the U.S. have recorded more than 500,000 cases total since the pandemic began.
One big unknown is whether in-person voting today will contribute to a surge in cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance issued over the weekend that “voters have the right to vote, regardless of whether they are sick or in quarantine.”
The U.S. has already seen record high levels of early voting, which may alleviate a crush of people voting today, and safety precautions are being taken at the polls. Experts say any risk of catching the virus will correlate to how widespread the virus is in the community, and whether voters wear masks, line up outdoors or indoors, and keep physically distanced from one another.
But if history is any guide, we may be in for an Election Day hangover.
Our colleague Sarah Mervosh, a national reporter, told us that during the midterm elections of 1918 — the last time Americans voted in a pandemic — cases surged in October and similarly peaked around Election Day. Afterward, infections continued at a high rate for the following two months, she said, although restrictions on public gatherings were lifted and celebrations at the end of World War I may have also contributed to new infections.
Good news for childhood transmission
We’ve seen some encouraging reports about childhood transmission. Schools, other than an earlier outbreak in Israel, do not seem to be stoking community transmission. And a recent study suggested only limited transmission from young children to adults.
A British pre-publication study published Monday further supports the growing consensus. Researchers found that living with children under 11 was not associated with an increased risk of getting infected with SARS-CoV-2. That finding applied to about 9.2 million British adults under 65, and also about 2.6 million adults over 65.
For adults under 65, living with children aged 12 to 18 was associated with a small increased risk of infection, but not of hospitalization or worse.
The researchers wrote that they “observed no consistent changes in risk following school closure.”
One big caveat: The study — which has not yet been peer-reviewed — analyzed data from adults with and without children in their homes between early February to early August. During that period, schools in England were mostly closed.
Another angle: More than 61,000 children in the U.S. were diagnosed with Covid-19 last week — more than in any other week during the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association reported Monday.
What else we’re following
The District of Columbia Public Schools said that it was canceling its plan to bring some elementary school students back to schools next week, after teachers staged a sickout to protest the plan.
Good news for concertgoers: A German analysis of an indoor concert staged by scientists suggests that the impact of such events on the spread of the coronavirus is “low to very low” as long as organizers ensure adequate ventilation, strict hygiene protocols and limited capacity.
Information about hospitals that are nearing capacity is being collected by the U.S. government, but not shared with the public, NPR reports.
Restaurants have been a key element of America’s urban transformation, helping draw the young and highly educated to city centers. So if restaurants go, what will happen to cities?
In today’s episode of The Field, Reid J. Epstein, who covers elections for The Times, explores disputes in Wisconsin over how to combat the coronavirus.
Peru’s government reopened Machu Picchu after seven months of closure because of the pandemic.
The Times’s “Family, Interrupted” series explores how the pandemic has upended the lives of American families. This week, we hear from Acadianna Begay and her father, Ray, who live with their extended family in the Navajo Nation.
What you’re doing
I lead a Girl Scout troop of 11 girls. I have found that the second best meeting (second to being in person) is one where I provide an envelope of materials that I leave on my doorstep for parents to pick up a day or two before the meeting. Waiting to open them until the meeting is a lesson in patience for the girls and they love the variety of the items included to do hands-on activities virtually. They’ve had light-up antlers and thank you cards for a Christmas in July event; Play-Doh to help compare the size of the sun and the moon for Space Science; and voting cards for a real troop election for our Votes for Women Centennial. Next up is the older girls teaching the younger ones how to make cat toys for the local animal shelter.
— Stacy Banks, North Logan, Utah
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