INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.
Here’s a look:
1.2 million deaths. The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 1.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The university’s COVID-19 tracker reported 1,200,850 deaths as of 3:30 a.m. Monday. The global tally reached 1.1 million deaths just two weeks ago on Saturday, Oct. 17.
Johns Hopkins reported 230,996 deaths in the U.S., with 160,074 in Brazil and 122,607 in India.
The university’s tracker indicates that there have been more than 46.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide.
The U.S. reported more than 9.2 million, India more than 8.2 million and Brazil more than 5.5 million cases.
Pre-election spike. A surge in coronavirus cases across the country, including in key presidential battleground states, is creating mounting health and logistical concerns for voters, poll workers and political parties ahead of Election Day.
In Iowa, where both presidential campaigns are competing feverishly, county officials said they were preparing for scores of confirmed or potentially infected people to vote curbside. It’s an option typically used by disabled people that must be available outside every polling place.
Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, in Cedar Rapids, encouraged people to cast their ballot but said they should take safety precautions at polling places to protect themselves and their neighbors.
“We can’t afford to have Election Day serve as a superspreading event across the state and country,” he said.
At a news conference this past week, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said his office had distributed 145,000 gloves, 200,000 masks and 11,000 social-distancing markers for use by voters and poll workers.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers sought to assure voters in the critical swing state that going to the polls would not be risky, even as officials announced more than 5,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday.
“For those who are voting in person now, I believe it’s safe,” Evers said, adding that polling places have adequate supplies to protect voters.
Fire Fauci? President Donald Trump is suggesting that he will fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after Tuesday’s election, as his rift with the nation’s top infectious disease expert widens while the nation sees its most alarming outbreak of the coronavirus since the spring.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Opa-locka, Florida, Trump expressed frustration that the surging cases of the virus that has killed more than 230,000 Americans so far this year remains prominent in the news, sparking chants of “Fire Fauci” from his supporters.
“Don’t tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump replied to thousands of supporters just after midnight Monday, adding he appreciated their “advice.”
Trump’s comments on Fauci less than 48 hours before polls close all but assure that his handling of the pandemic will remain front and center heading into Election Day.
It’s the most direct Trump has been in suggesting he was serious about trying to remove Fauci from his position. He has previously expressed that he was concerned about the political blowback of removing the popular and respected doctor before Election Day.
Trump’s comments come after Fauci leveled his sharpest criticism yet of the White House’s response to the coronavirus and Trump’s public assertion that the nation is “rounding the turn” on the virus.
Fauci has grown outspoken that Trump has ignored his advice for containing the virus, saying he hasn’t spoken with Trump in more than a month. He has raised alarm that the nation was heading for a challenging winter if more isn’t done soon to slow the spread of the disease.
In an interview with the Washington Post this weekend, Fauci cautioned that the U.S. will have to deal with “a whole lot of hurt” in the weeks ahead due to surging coronavirus cases.
Fauci said the U.S. “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” to stem rising cases as more people gather indoors during the colder fall and winter months. He says the U.S. will need to make an “abrupt change” in public health precautions.
Fauci added that he believed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “is taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective.” Fauci, who’s on the White House coronavirus task force, said that perspective emphasizes “the economy and reopening the country.”
U.K. lockdown. A new national lockdown in England may have to last longer than the planned four weeks if coronavirus infection rates don’t fall quickly enough, a senior government minister said Sunday.
The lockdown announced Saturday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to run from Thursday until Dec. 2. Johnson says it’s needed to stop hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients within weeks.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove said it was the government’s “fervent hope” that the lockdown would end on time, but that could not be guaranteed.
“With a virus this malignant, and with its capacity to move so quickly, it would be foolish to predict with absolute certainty what will happen in four weeks’ time,” he told Sky News. “We’re going to review it on the 2nd of December but we’re always driven by what the data says.”
Under the new restrictions, bars and restaurants can only offer take-out, non-essential shops must close and people will only be able to leave home for a short list of reasons including exercise. Hairdressers, gyms, golf courses, swimming pools and bowling alleys are among venues that must shut down, and foreign holidays are barred.
Unlike during the U.K.’s first three-month coronavirus lockdown earlier this year, schools, universities, construction sites and manufacturing businesses will stay open.
Britain has the worst virus death toll in Europe, with more than 46,700 dead. It passed 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday and confirmed another 23,254 new infections on Sunday.
Like other European countries, virus cases in the U.K. began to climb after lockdown measures were eased in the summer and people began to return to workplaces, schools, universities and social life. In recent weeks, new infections have been soaring across the continent, especially in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Spain and the U.K.
Johnson had hoped regional restrictions introduced in October, mostly in northern England, would be enough to push the numbers of new infections down. But government scientific advisers predict that on the outbreak’s current trajectory, the demand for hospital beds will exceed the capacity by the first week of December, even if temporary hospitals are set up again.