Please Note

The Washington Post is providing this important information about the coronavirus for free. For more free coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter where all stories are free to read.

The novel coronavirus has caused about 285,000 more deaths in the United States between Feb. 1 and Sept. 16 than in an average year, according to a report Tuesday, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The health agency said people ages 25 to 44 were particularly hit hard, with an “excess death” rate shooting up 26.5 percent over that in past years. Racial and ethnic minority groups, including Black Americans and Latinos, were found to be among the hardest hit.

The report comes as the United States struggles with yet another spike in virus infections. Nearly every state is reporting more cases now than at the end of September, and most states have seen their seven-day average of new infections surge by more than 40 percent, according to data tracked and analyzed by The Washington Post. At least 10 states set records Tuesday for virus hospitalizations.

Here are some other significant developments:
  • Prospects for an economic relief package in the next two weeks dimmed markedly on Tuesday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) revealed that he has warned the White House not to strike an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) before the Nov. 3 election.
  • The latest weekly report from the White House coronavirus force says 31 U.S. states are in the “red zone,” a concerning classification that comes when a state eclipses 100 reported cases per 100,000 people in the week previous.
  • A local health department in Michigan placed students at the state’s second-largest university under a two-week stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the virus after infections in the county hit record highs.
  • British scientists will launch the world’s first human challenge trials for the coronavirus, in which healthy volunteers will be deliberately infected with the virus, in the hope of speeding to a vaccine.
  • The global tally of officially confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 40 million on Monday amid new surges in the United States and Europe. Since February, more than 8.2 million infections and 220,000 fatalities have been reported in the United States.
October 20, 2020 at 11:45 PM EDT
Link copied

Maryland coronavirus plan says 14 percent of residents eligible for early vaccine when available

By Lola Fadulu

Fourteen percent of Maryland residents will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine when one is available, according to a draft of the state’s vaccine distribution plan that was made public Tuesday.

The plan was due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, part of a requirement that all states followed to give the federal government a glimpse of how officials would distribute a vaccine when one becomes available.

Maryland’s 68-page plan aims to “immediately make the vaccine available to Marylanders at highest risk of developing complications from COVID-19 as well as our critical front line health care workers and essential workers in public safety and education,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a news release.

High-risk health-care workers, first responders, older adults in congregate settings, incarcerated people and people with comorbid and underlying conditions will be eligible for a vaccine during the first of two phases of distribution.

October 20, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT
Link copied

D.C. Council approves bill allowing children to get vaccines without parents’ consent

By Julie Zauzmer

A bill passed by the D.C. Council on Tuesday would allow children as young as age 11 to obtain vaccinations without their parents’ consent.

Under the legislation, if a doctor determines that a minor is capable of informed consent, they would be able to seek government-recommended vaccinations their parents object to on religious grounds.

The bill, which was approved 12-1, requires that the doctor send the vaccination record in such cases to the child’s school, rather than to the parents, and seek compensation directly from the insurance company without involving the parents.

The idea for the legislation was born out of measles outbreaks in the United States last year, but council member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), who shepherded it to passage as chair of the health committee, said the hope of an imminent coronavirus vaccine gave the bill new urgency.

October 20, 2020 at 10:15 PM EDT
Link copied

Owner of Virginia charter aircraft firm accused of coronavirus crisis loan fraud

By Rachel Weiner

The owner of a charter air business in Leesburg, Va., lied to obtain $2.5 million in loans intended to help keep people employed during the coronavirus pandemic, federal prosecutors say.

Didier Kindambu, 48, is accused of falsely claiming to have more employees at Papillon Holdings and Papillon Maintenance Services than he actually did and of illegally applying for a second loan through the Paycheck Protection Program after the first one was approved.

Kindambu, of Leesburg, created fake payroll documentation showing that he paid out nearly $2 million a month to 27 employees, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria, but the numbers did not match state and federal records or the amount of money spent from company accounts.

He used some of the proceeds to buy a Cessna plane and a Lexus automobile, according to prosecutors.

October 20, 2020 at 9:30 PM EDT
Link copied

Analysis: We are not ‘rounding the corner’ on the coronavirus, part 8,219,000

By Philip Bump

After a brief hiatus following his own coronavirus infection, President Trump resumed his weekly telephone interviews with the always supportive hosts of his favorite morning show, Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.”

At one point, the president was asked how the country would handle rising coronavirus infections, given that the number of recorded cases is on the rise across the country.

“Well, we are living with it,” Trump said, “and we’re having the vaccines coming out very soon. With or without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn.”

This line that the United States is “rounding the turn,” which Trump also commonly expresses as “rounding the corner,” is no more true than the first time he said it. In fact, it may be less true. When he said it Aug. 31 — “hopefully, we’re rounding the final turn on that disaster given to us by China” — there were 6 million confirmed cases in the United States. Now, the total is more than 8.2 million. Nearly 17,000 more people have died.

October 20, 2020 at 8:45 PM EDT
Link copied

Wisconsin early voting kicks off amid surge in coronavirus cases

By Derek Hawkins and Dan Simmons

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin voters headed to the polls in large numbers Tuesday for the start of early voting amid a spike in coronavirus cases that has turned the state into one of the country’s latest pandemic hot spots.

People began showing up at polling sites before sunrise, forming lines that stretched a block or more in some places. Pandemic precautions were on full display: Voters and election officials donned masks, workers wiped down booths with disinfectant, and those waiting kept roughly six feet apart as the lines crept forward.

The growing wave of coronavirus cases that has swept across the country in recent weeks has hit Wisconsin especially hard. The state’s rolling average for daily infections has risen sharply since the end of the summer, climbing from fewer than 1,000 in early September to more than 3,000 now. The state is regularly setting records for new cases in a single day, topping 4,000 twice last week.

October 20, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT
Link copied

Netflix new subscriber signups plummeted over the summer, marking the end of pandemic-fueled growth

By Steven Zeitchik

People went outside, and Netflix subscriptions started going down.

That was the lesson from the streaming giant Tuesday, as the company reported that its quarterly net subscriber gains dipped below 10 million for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic to just 2.2 million over the summer.

The streaming company had seen massive subscriber spikes since early 2020, gaining 16 million global subscribers in the quarter ending in March, as quarantines dominated Europe and began taking hold in the U.S. Robust growth continued in the spring, with the April-June period seeing Netflix rack up a net addition of 10.2 million subscribers around the world.

But July, August and September — historically a strong quarter for Netflix — much slower growth, including just 177,000 adds in the U.S. The period was one in which many Americans emerged from lockdown to gather in outdoor locations. Netflix had drawn nearly 3 million new American subscribers in the spring.

October 20, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT
Link copied

Britain to infect healthy volunteers with coronavirus in vaccine challenge trials

By William Booth and Carolyn Y. Johnson

British scientists said Tuesday they will launch the world’s first human challenge trials for covid-19, in which healthy volunteers will be deliberately infected with the coronavirus in hopes of further speeding the drive to a vaccine.

The research, led by scientists at Imperial College London and funded by the British government, is a gutsy gambit, given that people will be submitting themselves to a deadly virus with no surefire treatment.

The United States is moving more cautiously, with leading government researchers saying human challenge trials might be too risky or unnecessary. But the British scientists say the potential payoff is massive — that accelerating vaccine development by even three months could save hundreds of thousands of lives globally.

October 20, 2020 at 6:30 PM EDT
Link copied

McConnell warns White House against making stimulus deal before election, sources say

By Jeff Stein and Erica Werner

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Senate Republicans on Tuesday that he has warned the White House not to make a big stimulus deal before the election, according to three people familiar with his remarks.

McConnell suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is not negotiating in good faith with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and any deal they reach could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week.

In a Bloomberg interview on Tuesday, Pelosi adamantly denied that she was stringing the White House along and said she wouldn’t be negotiating with the White House if she didn’t want a deal.

But McConnell’s remarks, made in a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans, show the raw political calculations that both parties are dealing with two weeks before the Nov. 3 elections. McConnell’s comments were confirmed by two people familiar with them who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss them.

McConnell’s stance could kill any chances for passing a new relief deal in the two weeks left before the election.

October 20, 2020 at 5:51 PM EDT
Link copied

University of Michigan students placed under stay-at-home order amid rise in cases

By Ruby Mellen

University of Michigan students were placed under a two-week stay-at-home order Tuesday to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus in Washtenaw County, where the school is located.

The new order comes as cases on campus climb at a worrying rate. The Michigan Daily reported that people between 18 and 22 accounted for nearly two-thirds of cases in the county during the first two weeks of October.

“This order is necessary to reverse the current increase in cases,” Washtenaw County Health Officer Jimena Loveluck said in a news release, according to the paper. “We must continue to do what we can to minimize the impact on the broader community and to ensure we have the public health capacity to fully investigate cases and prevent additional spread of illness.”

Under the order, students must stay at home unless partaking in activities including attending classes, going to dining halls or working non-remote jobs.

Michigan football players, who are being tested daily, were specifically excluded from the order, the Detroit News reported.

Michigan and other Midwestern states have seen record case numbers as colder weather sets in. Since the fall semester started, the university has confirmed nearly 1,200 cases on campus. It is slated to make a decision about its winter semester on Nov. 1.

October 20, 2020 at 5:35 PM EDT
Link copied

White House flags 31 ‘red zone’ states for new cases per capita

By Meryl Kornfield

Most of the country is battling a concerning number of new coronavirus infections per capita, according to a weekly White House coronavirus task force report shared with state health officials on Sunday.

The report classified 31 states in the “red zone,” as the states’ number of new cases eclipsed 100 reported infections per 100,000 people the previous week. The top states, including the Dakotas, Montana and Wisconsin, were mostly in the Midwest, while other flagged states were in the South, such as Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.

Thirteen states — topped by the Dakotas, Arkansas and Kansas — were ranked red after reporting more than two new deaths per 100,000 people.

States fared better in their positive test rates, with only eight states, including Montana, Idaho and Utah, surpassing the 10 percent threshold.

Attached maps and visuals represented “early signs of deterioration in the Sun Belt as mitigation efforts were decreased over the past couple of weeks,” according to the report. Federal officials urged several of those states to ramp up testing and restrictions on travel and more.

For North Dakota, the state with the highest rate of new cases per capita, White House officials recommended mask-wearing and increased surveillance testing.

Fargo became the first North Dakota city Monday to require masks after Mayor Tim Mahoney issued a mandate, which has no penalty for violation. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has previously dismissed requiring masks statewide, emphasizing in early September that the state has had a “great track record so far of relying on personal responsibility.”

October 20, 2020 at 4:21 PM EDT
Link copied

Stocks rise after Pelosi signals progress on stimulus deal

By Hamza Shaban

Stocks rose Tuesday as investors anticipated positive news out of Washington, lifting hopes on Wall Street that lawmakers and the White House would reach a new deal on emergency coronavirus relief.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 113.07 points or 0.4 percent at the closing bell, erasing some losses from the start of the week. The S&P 500 index rose by 16.22 points or 0.47, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 37.51 points or 0.33 percent at the end of the trading day.

With the countdown clock ticking, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Bloomberg News in an interview that she was “optimistic” that negotiations would lead to a breakthrough by the end of the day. Over the weekend, she had set a deadline of Tuesday for a deal to be struck in time for Congress to pass a massive spending package before Election Day. As Monday came and went, however, investor sentiment soured, sending stocks lower on the belief that prospects for a deal were shrinking.

But negotiations continued into Tuesday, and both President Trump and Pelosi have kept hopes of a bargain alive as new coronavirus infections increased throughout the country.

While all three major indexes inched upward, Wall Street remained cautious as investors continued to digest conflicting signals from Trump and Capitol Hill. In a morning interview on “Fox & Friends,” the president said he wants a relief deal even larger than the $2.2 trillion package proposed by Democrats. But Senate Republicans said Monday that members are not prepared to support even a smaller deal of $1.8 trillion.

The chair of the Federal Reserve has repeatedly called for another round of robust government aid to keep the economic recovery from sliding.

October 20, 2020 at 3:31 PM EDT
Link copied

Neighboring states now qualify for New York’s quarantine list but won’t be included

By Brittany Shammas

New York will not add Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to its list of states from which travelers must quarantine for 14 days — though each is seeing coronavirus transmission rates high enough to qualify.

Because of the interconnectedness of the region and its transportation, a quarantine on those states “is not practically viable,” according to a news release from New York state. However, state officials are discouraging nonessential travel between them.

“There is no practical way to quarantine New York from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) said in the release. “There are just too many interchanges, interconnections, and people who live in one place and work in the other. It would have a disastrous effect on the economy, and remember while we’re fighting this public health pandemic we’re also fighting to open up the economy.”

State officials did add Maryland and Arizona to the travel advisory, which applies to any person arriving in New York from states with significant community spread — a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average, or with a 10 percent or higher test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.

With daily reported cases increasing across the United States, 40 states and territories are now included in New York’s travel advisory.

“This is really a bizarre outcome, considering New York once had the highest infection rate,” Cuomo said.

October 20, 2020 at 3:04 PM EDT
Link copied

Idaho school district cancels classes as teachers stage a sickout amid a coronavirus spike

By Ruby Mellen

Hundreds of teachers in Idaho’s West Ada School District called in sick Monday and Tuesday, after the district said it would move ahead with some in-person and some virtual learning even as Ada County was classified as a “red” category, its most severe designation for coronavirus spread. The absence of teachers and lack of substitutes prompted the district to cancel classes both days.

Some teachers said they were frustrated with the disregard for their safety, given the heightened risk.

“When is enough, enough? If red is not the line, where is the line?” West Ada teacher Zach Borman, who called in sick on Monday, told Idaho News 6. “I would basically argue I am sick; this has been the most stressful and terrifying thing of my life,” Borman added.

As coronavirus cases rise in the United States, schools have not shown evidence of being major locations of superspreader events. Still, the process of reopening has been bumpy, with some schools having to close because of outbreaks. Some teachers unions have also pressured public school districts to meet high standards of safety before holding in-person classes.

The West Ada teachers union, which organized the sickout, said it disagreed with the school board’s plan to continue to hold in-person classes while it assessed the safety amid the rise in coronavirus cases, the Idaho Press reported.

October 20, 2020 at 2:30 PM EDT
Link copied

All residents of Kansas nursing home infected with coronavirus, officials say

By Brittany Shammas

Ten residents of a Kansas nursing home have died in a coronavirus outbreak that infected every one of its residents, health officials said.

The Andbe Home, a privately owned facility located near the Nebraska border, confirmed all 62 residents have contracted the virus, the Norton County Health Department said in a news release. In addition to the 10 who died, one is hospitalized and the other 51 are being cared for at the nursing home. An unspecified number of staff members have also tested positive, the health department said.

The health department is working with emergency management authorities to help manage the outbreak.

“Steps are being taken to prevent any further outbreak including quarantining residents in their rooms and not allowing outside visitors into the facility,” the news release said.

The coronavirus has had a particularly devastating impact on nursing homes, killing more than 30,000 of their residents nationwide, according to federal data. The data showed that many facilities lacked the staff and protective equipment as the pandemic raged. A Senate report released last month found equipment shortages grew more acute between July and August.

Across Kansas, health officials have reported nearly 71,000 coronavirus cases and 870 deaths, according to Washington Post tracking.