As Election Day nears and the United States reports its highest daily case totals yet, battleground Great Lakes states that could help decide the presidency are enduring some of the most alarming coronavirus surges.
While the surge quickens and early voting draws to a close, President Trump has continued downplaying the virus and falsely saying the country is “rounding the turn.” And on Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. tried to minimize the death toll, claiming it was “almost nothing” in an appearance on Fox News.
But deaths are beginning to rise across the country, averaging 818 a day over the last week, up nearly 15 percent since Oct. 1, according to a New York Times database. More than 84,000 new cases were announced Saturday in the United States, pushing the seven-day average for new cases above 80,000 for the first time, a rise of 86 percent over the same period.
Deaths are a lagging indicator in the pandemic. First comes a jump in cases — like the one in Minnesota, which this week reported its three highest daily case totals yet — followed by an increase in hospitalizations, as in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — all states that could tip the balance of the election.
These states are trying to avoid what has happened in Wisconsin, where more than 275 deaths have been reported in the last week. The state is home to nine of the country’s 16 metro areas with the highest rates of recent cases.
In Ohio, hospitalizations have doubled in recent weeks, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Pennsylvania is averaging more than 2,000 new cases each day, more than twice as many as at the start of October, and hospitalizations have more than doubled.
In the final days before the election, Pennsylvania will be see a number of rallies for each presidential candidate. Mr. Trump, who visited the state on Saturday, was set to host another rally on Monday, and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was set to visit on Sunday.
Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf, urged caution. “This weekend, there will be multiple rallies across the commonwealth at a time when we are seeing a resurgence in cases,” Mr. Wolf said Saturday on Twitter. “We need everyone to take this seriously, especially at a time when our cases are at their highest.”
The surge has been ravaging the middle of the country, where states that had once been considered safely Republican-leaning, like Ohio, Iowa and Texas, are now fiercely competitive. In Iowa, the daily average of new cases increased over 80 percent in the past two weeks, according to a Times database; in Texas, the figure is up about 40 percent over the same period.
Across the country, reports of new cases remain at their highest levels yet. More than 99,000 cases were announced on Friday in the United States, a single-day record, and more than 20 states have set weekly case records recently. On Saturday, officials in Colorado and North Dakota announced daily record numbers of new cases.
On Saturday, 47,374 people were hospitalized with the virus in the United States, according to the Covid Tracking Project, an increase of more than 26 percent over the past two weeks.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert whose criticism of President Trump’s pandemic response has steadily grown in pitch, gave a bleak appraisal of the administration’s coronavirus response in an interview with The Washington Post on Friday.
“You could not possibly be positioned more poorly” heading into the winter, when people will be gathering indoors more, he said.
“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt,” he said in the interview, which was published on Saturday.
And in comments likely to grate on Mr. Trump, who has called Dr. Fauci “a disaster” as he has batted away the doctor’s growing criticism, Dr. Fauci praised the Biden campaign’s approach to the coronavirus, saying it was “taking it seriously from a public health perspective.”
Mr. Trump’s campaign was “looking at it from a different perspective,” he said, which was focused on the economy and reopening the country.
The interview was the latest instance of Dr. Fauci, who was once the face of the government’s response, refusing to join in on the Trump administration’s efforts to insist the virus is under control. His influence has given way to Dr. Scott W. Atlas, Mr. Trump’s pandemic adviser who has questioned mask use and offered a number of other contrarian philosophies.
In the interview, Dr. Fauci directly criticized Dr. Atlas, saying “I have real problems with that guy.”
“He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in,” Dr. Fauci said. “He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense.”
In a statement, Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said that it was “unacceptable and breaking with all norms” for Dr. Fauci to “play politics” three days before the election.
When the coronavirus first erupted in Sioux Falls, S.D., in the spring, Mayor Paul TenHaken arrived at work each morning with a clear mission: Stop the outbreak at the pork plant. Hundreds of employees, chopping meat shoulder to shoulder, had gotten sick in what was then the largest virus cluster in the United States.
That outbreak was extinguished months ago, and these days, when he heads into City Hall, the situation is far more nebulous. The virus has spread all over town.
“You can swing a cat and hit someone who has got it,” said Mr. TenHaken, who had to reschedule his own meetings to Zoom this past week after his assistant tested positive for the virus.
As the coronavirus soars across the country, tracing the path of the pandemic in the United States is no longer simply challenging. It has become nearly impossible.
Gone are the days when Americans could easily understand the virus by tracking rising case numbers back to discrete sources — the crowded factory, the troubled nursing home, the rowdy bar. Now, there are so many cases, in so many places, that many people are coming to a frightening conclusion: They have no idea where the virus is spreading.
“It’s just kind of everywhere,” said Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who estimated that tracing coronavirus cases becomes difficult once the virus spreads to more than 10 cases per 100,000 people.
In some of the hardest-hit spots in the United States, the virus is spreading at 10 to 20 times that rate, and even health officials have all but given up trying to figure out who is giving the virus to whom.
The trial for the January 2015 terrorist attacks on two sites in Paris — the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket — has been suspended after one of the main defendants tested positive for the coronavirus.
The attacks, which killed 17 people, were carried out by three Islamist extremists working in concert. All three died in shootouts with the police, leaving only suspected accomplices to stand trial.
The trial, held at the main courthouse in northern Paris, was suspended for the first time last Wednesday after one of the defendants — Ali Riza Polat, 35 — fell ill with nausea. A first test for the coronavirus came back negative, and the trial briefly resumed. But the presiding judge notified lawyers in the case by email late Saturday evening that a second test for Mr. Riza Polat was positive.
In the email, which was seen by The New York Times, the judge, Régis de Jorna, told lawyers that the trial would be suspended at least until Nov. 4, and that all of the other defendants would have to be tested. The suspension is likely to delay the verdict in the trial, which had been expected later this month.
“The trial will start again depending on the results of these tests, and of the evolution of the health of those involved,” Mr. de Jorna wrote.
In the courtroom, everyone is required to wear masks, including the defendants, the judges and the lawyers. The defendants are grouped together in two plexiglas “boxes.” Mr. Riza Polat spent much of last week loudly, and sometimes angrily, defending himself in court.
In all, 13 men and one woman stand accused at the trial, which started in early September; three of them are being tried in absentia. The trial was scheduled to begin in the spring but was postponed when the first wave of the pandemic hit France.
The accused are charged with providing varying degrees of logistical aid to the assailants, by carrying or supplying cash, equipment, weapons or vehicles. Most face possible sentences of up to 20 years. But Mr. Riza Polat, who is accused of being a key accomplice of Amédy Coulibaly, the gunman at the kosher supermarket, faces a more serious charge of complicity and a possible life sentence.
As part of a diplomatic tour through Europe in late October, the State Department’s director of policy planning briefed journalists in London about the Trump administration’s strategy toward China. A video of the virtual event showed him coughing at least six times during the hourlong discussion.
The senior department official, Peter Berkowitz, held face-to-face meetings the same day with British officials. He had similar meetings with French diplomats a few days later in Paris before flying back to the United States on a commercial airline — and then testing positive for the coronavirus.
Mr. Berkowitz’s trip two weeks ago to Budapest, London and Paris has angered other State Department employees who believed it was unnecessary. It has irritated foreign officials whom he may have exposed to the virus. And it has raised questions about the limits of in-person diplomacy during a pandemic — especially as cases are again skyrocketing across the United States and Europe.
State Department protocols generally call for diplomats who are showing symptoms of the virus — including repeated coughing — to quarantine until they can be tested. If diplomats who are abroad test positive for Covid-19, they are expected to remain overseas until they test negative or, in extreme cases, can be brought back to the United States with a biomedical unit.
Mr. Berkowitz did neither, according to two State Department officials with direct knowledge of his travels.
Given his senior position at the State Department — the office he leads develops strategic analysis on global trends for the secretary of state — he was not required to seek permission from his superiors before planning the tour that focused on China and a new religious rights panel that is a top priority for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The State Department would not make Mr. Berkowitz available for an interview. His symptoms while abroad have not been previously reported, although The Washington Post earlier disclosed that Mr. Berkowitz had tested positive for the virus when he returned to the United States from Europe.
The British prime minister announced expansive new restrictions on Saturday that effectively establish a national lockdown, and Greece and Austria increased coronavirus measures, joining France, Germany, Belgium and Ireland in shutting down large parts of their societies to try to keep their hospitals from being overwhelmed amid vast second-wave surges in coronavirus infections.
The surges, which have turned the Europe virus map almost a solid bright red, come as the United States has repeatedly set a record for daily infections.
That combination is largely responsible for driving the global caseload to once unimaginable highs. The global daily case count passed 500,000 for the first time on Wednesday, shot past 543,000 on Thursday and rose again on Friday to surpass 548,000, according to a New York Times database.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new restrictions for England at a hastily called news conference after an emergency meeting of his cabinet. After weeks of resisting calls for a lockdown, he is shutting pubs, restaurants and most retail stores in England, starting Thursday until Dec. 2. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had already instituted such restrictions.
Under the plans, people would be required to stay home unless their workplaces, such as factories or construction sites, need them. They would be allowed to go to school or college and leave home for a few other essential reasons, like buying food or seeking medical attention. But nonessential shops would be closed, people would be urged not to travel, except for business, and pubs and restaurants would only be allowed to serve take out food.
The British government’s scientific advisory panel, known as SAGE, estimated this month that England was seeing between 43,000 and 75,000 new infections a day, exceeding worst-case scenarios calculated just weeks ago. Hospital admissions are also running ahead of the worst-case scenario, the panel said.
On Friday, 1,489 patients were hospitalized in Britain with Covid-19 symptoms. Nearly 1,000 patients are in intensive care units, while 274 people died. The country has crossed the one million mark for total cases, according to a New York Times database, and its death toll from the virus is 58,925, one of the highest in Europe.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece unveiled a one-month plan that included a national curfew and mask mandate for indoors and outdoors starting Tuesday. Otherwise, the plan effectively divides the country in two, imposing broad restrictions in the higher-risk zone, which includes greater Athens and Thessaloniki, the second-largest city. Bars and restaurants will close except for delivery and takeout service along with cinemas, gyms and theaters. Schools are to remain open, as will retail stores and banks.
“I cannot shut my eyes to the harsh reality,” Mr. Mitsotakis said in a televised address, noting that the collective efforts to observe existing restrictions had been undermined by a few who had flouted them. Greece reported 2,056 new daily cases on Saturday, a record for the country.
Greece, which only recently started recovering from a decade-long financial crisis, is highly aware of the toll a full lockdown would exact. The economic effects of its first lockdown, imposed during the first wave of the pandemic in March, threw the country back into recession, with the contraction this year estimated to reach up to 10 percent of its gross domestic product. The government has said it plans to tap its cash reserves to prop up businesses and unemployed workers.
Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, announced a curfew from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. as of Tuesday, and is shutting restaurants to all but takeout service, Reuters reported. Stores, however, are to remain open.
In the spring, the pandemic hit Moscow particularly hard while mostly sparing provincial Russia. But infections are rising in several of the country’s far-flung regions, overwhelming hospitals and morgues.
President Vladimir V. Putin, who has centralized political power during his long tenure, delegated to regional authorities decisions on locking down businesses, shutting schools and taking other public health precautions.
The stated purpose was to allow local officials to tailor their responses to their circumstances, though political analysts also noted that it allowed Mr. Putin to deflect blame for unpopular shutdowns or bad outcomes. Either way, the result has become a patchwork of rules throughout the country that are often poorly observed.
Over all, Russia’s health system has been coping. Tatyana Golikova, a deputy prime minister, said 80 percent of the beds in Covid-19 wards were occupied nationally. But some provinces have clearly lost control; five regions reported that 95 percent of the beds were occupied.
In Novokuznetsk, a coal mining town in Siberia, a morgue worker posted a video in which he appeared to walk on bodies in bags. They were so tightly packed in a corridor that there seemed no other way to get through.
“This is the hallway,” said the worker, who did not identify himself. “There are corpses all over. You can fall down walking here, you can trip over them. I have to walk on their heads.”
In Blagoveshchensk, a city in the Far East on the border with China, a local journalist, Natalya Nadelyaeva, described waiting in line at a morgue to pick up the body of her grandfather, then waiting in another line at a funeral home to arrange burial.
“The undertakers told me they just don’t have enough crews to bury everybody on time,” she said.
Russia has reported 1,579,446 cases, the fourth-highest number in the world, after the United States, India and Brazil.
Those We’ve Lost
This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
Enzo Mari, an irascible industrial designer, artist and polemicist who made simple, beautiful objects, including toys and traffic bollards, that delighted generations of Italians and design buffs all over the world, died on Oct. 19 at a hospital in Milan. He was 88.
The cause was complications of the coronavirus, said Hans Ulrich Obrist, who, with Francesca Giacomelli, curated a major retrospective of his work at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan, which opened two days before his death.
Mr. Mari’s wife, Lea Vergine, an art critic, theoretician and performance artist, also died from the coronavirus, on Oct. 20, at 82.
Mr. Mari was known as much for his grumpy pronouncements on the state of design — which he disdained as mostly unnecessary and a waste of labor and material — as for his own designs.
His most beloved works include an elegant platter made from a slightly bent I-beam (a functional art piece that presaged Donald Judd’s explorations by a few years); a cunning puzzle of 16 animals jigsawed from a single piece of oak; a perpetual calendar that worked like old traffic signals, with days and months printed on plastic cards that pivot out; and a do-it-yourself handbook and anti-industrial manifesto for making furniture using only nails and standard lumber (no need for fancy joinery, or a fancy designer).
That all of these things became collectibles for design aficionados was particularly irritating to him.
They used to call it “the tyranny of distance.” Australia’s remoteness was something to escape, and for generations, the country that hates being referred to as “down under” has been rushing toward the world. Trade and immigration made Australians richer than the Swiss, creating a culture where life can be complete only with overseas trips and imported purchases.
Until the pandemic. The virus has turned this outgoing nation into a hermit. Australia’s borders are closed, internationally and between several states. Its economy is smaller, and its population growth has fallen to its lowest rate in more than 100 years.
Rather than chafing against isolation, though, many Australians these days are focusing on what they love about their country. Island living looks like a privilege when the world is pestilent. Those gnawing questions about travel, recession and the loss of global experience are being shoved down, below a more immediate appreciation for home and a search for silver linings.
Australia, a country of about 25 million people, has recorded about 28,000 coronavirus infections and fewer than 1,000 deaths. In dozens of interviews, Australians have said they’re quite happy with their country’s response to the pandemic. Even with travel rules so strict they seem like something out of China or North Korea. Even with a 111-day lockdown in Australia’s second-largest city of Melbourne, which just finally ended. Even when the people kept away are grandparents longing to see new grandchildren.
That’s the case for Jane Harper, a best-selling novelist in Melbourne whose parents in Britain haven’t been able to see her second child.
“We’ve all worked so hard to keep our cases down, and that’s such a fragile, precious thing that I can completely understand the strong urge to protect it,” Ms. Harper said. “My desire to see my parents, does that outweigh my desire to never go into lockdown again?”
“It’s not my decision to make,” she said. “But nationally that’s the question we are all asking ourselves.”
Nearly 22 percent of children in the United States had an unemployed parent in April, the highest rate on record, according to Zachary Parolin, a researcher at Columbia University.
Research dating to the Great Depression warns that parental unemployment puts children at risk: When finances fall and adult tensions rise, young people tend to do worse in school and experience psychological strains, reducing their prospects for success later in life.
But despite the economic problems caused by the coronavirus, some parents are finding an unexpected consolation.
Gregory Pike, a single father in Las Vegas, fell behind on rent and utilities payments when he lost his job in March. But he now has more time with his 6-year-old daughter, Makayla, whom he has raised alone for three years.
“As much as this pandemic has brought me some hardship and uncertainty, it’s kind of a blessing — it’s let me focus more on parenting,” Mr. Pike said. “It’s bad but it’s also been good. It’s really brought us a lot closer.”
A recent New York Times questionnaire asked parents how the pandemic had affected their relationships with their children. Many simultaneously lamented the lost income but praised the increased family time.
“We are struggling financially, but we have grown closer,” a mother in North Carolina wrote.
When the coronavirus first hit Italy, overwhelming the country’s hospitals and prompting the West’s first lockdown, Italians inspired the world with their resilience and civic responsibility, staying home and singing on their balconies. Their reward for months of quarantine was a flattened curve, a gulp of normalcy and the satisfaction of usually patronizing allies pointing to Italy as a model.
Italy is now a long way away from those balcony days and its summer fling with freedom. Instead, as a second wave of the virus engulfs Europe and triggers new nationwide lockdowns, Italy has become emblematic of the despair, exhaustion and fear that is spreading throughout the Continent.
France has applied a new national lockdown to contain skyrocketing cases. Germany has put in place softer, but still severe, nationwide restrictions. Britain announced expansive new restrictions on Saturday that effectively establish a national lockdown. Throughout Europe, governments are scrambling to deliver relief, keep schools open and salvage their economies.
And everywhere, if people are not sick with the virus, they are sick of it. In Italy, the discontent is exploding.
The country that gave the Western world a preview of the Covid’s awful human toll — that demonstrated the necessity, and success, of a national lockdown, that then seemed an oasis in an infected Continent — now stands for something darker. Italy has become a symbol of Europe’s squandered advantages, the impotence of half-measures in the face of a virus that does not abide by compromises, and the social and political costs of not making good on promises of relief.
Italians, coming down hard from their summer euphoria, are exasperated.