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The coronavirus pandemic continued setting records in the United States on Tuesday, as a relentless raft of new infections pushed the country’s seven-day average of reported cases to its highest level ever.

For the first time, the nation’s rolling average — considered more reliable than fluctuating daily cases counts — topped 70,000, according to Washington Post data.

This latest surge has spared no corner of the country: 29 states have reported record numbers of infections in the past week.

More than 43,000 people are hospitalized, a figure approaching the worst of the midsummer peak. The average number of deaths reported each day has also been ticking slowly upward for a month and now stands at 815 people.

Here are some significant developments:
  • President Trump predicted a stimulus package would come post-election, as prospects of an economic relief deal appeared to be withering after months of talks. Congress left Washington until after the election without passing legislation even as the pandemic surges and the economy sputters.
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio implored residents not to travel out of state during the holiday season, noting that many other parts of the country have “skyrocketing levels of the coronavirus.”
  • Indoor dining and bar services in Chicago must shut down this week, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday, as the state and its most populous city bear a surge in coronavirus infections.
  • A senior Trump administration official tested positive for the coronavirus after a recent trip to Britain, Hungary and France, raising concerns about the spread of the virus to high-level officials across the Atlantic. British officials are now being more selective about approval of American delegations, officials said.
  • Belgium has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the European Union, surpassing that of the Czech Republic, as cases climb and the country debates imposing a new national lockdown.
  • Watch: In a three-part documentary, The Washington Post explores a failed response to the coronavirus pandemic that’s left 225,000 Americans dead, despite decades of preparation in Washington.
October 27, 2020 at 11:45 PM EDT
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With proper measures flying can be safer than eating at a restaurant during the pandemic, study says

By Lori Aratani

The risk of catching the coronavirus on an airplane can be significantly reduced if travelers wash their hands frequently, wear masks at all times, and if airlines clean and sanitize planes thoroughly and ensure there is a constant flow of air throughout the cabin — even when the plane is parked, according to a study released Tuesday.

Using these and other measures as part of a layered approach could push the risk of catching the virus on a plane below that of other activities, including grocery shopping and eating at a restaurant, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health concluded.

October 27, 2020 at 11:15 PM EDT
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Lakers celebrations might have fueled L.A. coronavirus spike, official says

By Cindy Boren

Watch parties and a victory celebration outside Staples Center during the Lakers’ run to the NBA championship might have contributed to a spike in cases of the novel coronavirus, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Monday.

With the Los Angeles Dodgers one win from clinching their first World Series title in 32 years, there is concern that another celebration could further spread of the virus.

October 27, 2020 at 10:49 PM EDT
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Justice Dept. opens civil rights investigation into two New Jersey nursing homes

By Matt Zapotosky

The Justice Department on Tuesday revealed it has opened a civil rights investigation into two nursing homes for veterans in New Jersey that have seen scores of coronavirus deaths.

The department disclosed the investigation in a letter to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), asserting that recent reports suggest the number of covid-19 deaths at two long-term care facilities operated by the state — the Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park and the Veterans Memorial Home at Paramus — had been “understated.”

Locals news reports say dozens have died at each facility, sparking a shake-up in leadership and an inquiry by the state’s attorney general.

Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband and U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito wrote that their review of public information “gives us cause for concern that the quality of medical care at these nursing homes has been deficient.”

They wrote that the Justice Department was initiating an investigation under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which would assess whether there had been a pattern and practice of violating veterans rights by failing to provide adequate medical care during the pandemic. They noted they had not yet reached any conclusions.

Michael Zhadanovsky, a spokesman for Murphy, said in a statement: “The fact that this request from the Department of Justice was announced a week before Election Day speaks volumes about the nature of the review. From the beginning of the pandemic, the State of New Jersey has relied on CDC guidance from the federal government to protect the residents of our veterans homes. We do not comment on the substance of investigative inquiries and will respond through the appropriate channels in due course.”

The Justice Department in August had requested information on covid-19 in nursing homes from the Democratic governors of four states, including New Jersey, while asserting that their orders during the coronavirus pandemic “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.” The move drew some questions as being politically motivated.

In the letter Tuesday, Dreiband and Carpenito noted that New Jersey had responded to the request by referring officials to the state’s website.

Separately on Tuesday, the Justice Department requested more information from New York on covid-19 in privately operated nursing homes. New York was among those states from which the department had requested information in August.

October 27, 2020 at 10:30 PM EDT
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Analysis: Trump’s campaign depends on his supporters putting their health at risk

By Philip Bump

At this point, nearly 70,000 people in the United States are testing positive for the novel coronavirus every day. More than 800 people are dying. This is, in short, one of the most dangerous times for the country over the course of the year’s pandemic.

And, increasingly, President Trump is hinging his campaign on his supporters ignoring the swelling crisis.

He does so rhetorically, of course. Over and over, he has insisted that the country is “rounding the corner” on the virus, a message he has offered both as the number of new cases increases and as it fades. No matter what happens, no matter how many people fall ill or how many hospitals are strained for space, Trump is insistent: We’re turning the corner. This is true mostly in the sense that an uncontrolled wildfire is always getting closer to the point of burning itself out.

Trump’s reelection bid also hinges, though, on having his supporters ignore the crisis quite literally. His campaign is centralized on large outdoor events, populated by fans who often ignore mandates to wear masks and invariably ignore social distancing concerns. Outdoor events are, happily, less dangerous than indoor ones, but the president nonetheless insists on the gatherings as essential.

October 27, 2020 at 9:45 PM EDT
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Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes.

By Kyle Swenson

Emily Brockman was in her apartment complex’s rental office, boxed in again by the bleak details of her situation.

But that Tuesday morning, Sept. 15, Brockman listened as the property manager at her building began talking about a new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, something that could keep her in her apartment for a few more months. Sign the two-page declaration and bring it to her court date later that week, she was told. Here was a tiny thread of hope in what had been six months of emotional ups and downs.

Millions of Americans, knocked financially sideways by the coronavirus pandemic, were thinking the same. Anchored in public health concerns that the economic stress of the pandemic will force millions of renters from the safety of their homes and into the crosshairs of a fast-spreading virus, the CDC order aims to keep the estimated 40 million renters facing eviction this year in place through Jan. 1. “I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions,” President Trump said in a statement when the CDC order was announced.

October 27, 2020 at 9:00 PM EDT
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Celebrities are traveling where we’re banned. These loopholes may be how.

By Brad Japhe

In August, Kylie Jenner did something pretty typical: She shared photos from her travels with her nearly 200 million Instagram followers. The backdrop was the bell tower of the American Cathedral in the eighth arrondissement of Paris. In another, she posed in front of a Louis Vuitton storefront. A maskless American in off-limits Paris.

Like most of Europe, France has been closed to U.S. travelers since March, but Jenner’s posts highlight a separate set of rules enjoyed by influential travelers. And other high-profile jet-setters are making use of them.

The European Union remains closed to U.S. travelers without an opening date in sight. But there are exemptions to this restriction for “highly qualified third-country workers if their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.” The business loophole appears to be how celebrities and other wealthy travelers are able to enter countries where everyday Americans aren’t allowed.

October 27, 2020 at 8:30 PM EDT
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Chicago indoor dining and bars to close Friday, Illinois governor says

By Meryl Kornfield

Indoor dining and bar services in Chicago must shut down this week, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said Tuesday, as the state and its most populous city bear a surge in coronavirus infections.

The new restrictions, which also ban gatherings of more than 25 people, take effect Friday and come in response to a sustained rise in the city’s coronavirus test positivity rate and a recent surge in covid-19 hospitalizations, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Hours after the announcement, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot argued that those metrics to determine closures were too strict and should be altered to prevent unnecessary economic ramifications.

“If the governor’s order goes into effect, it’s really effectively shutting down a significant portion of our economy at a time when those same businesses are really hanging on by a thread, so we’re going to continue our engagement with the governor and his team,” Lightfoot said on “PBS NewsHour” on Tuesday evening.

Pritzker’s office responded later, saying Lightfoot’s staff was briefed on the state’s mitigation plan.

“Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t make exceptions, and it would be ill-advised to make exceptions to the rules we put in place as the best mitigations to stop the spread,” the governor’s press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh, wrote in an email to The Washington Post. “As the CDC has noted, bars and restaurants are major places of transmission risk. We’ll continue to provide support to businesses that are hard hit through our $630 million in grants.”

In the announcement, Pritzker’s office said the restrictions would be relaxed if the city met a series of goals, including a drop in its positivity rate, hospital admissions and average ICU bed availability over three days.

“We can’t ignore what is happening around us — because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring,” Pritzker wrote in a statement.

Illinois reported 4,000 infections Tuesday, and the state’s seven-day average for new cases reached a new high of more than 4,700. In Cook County, where Chicago is located, officials reported 237 infections per 100,000 people in the past week, a record since the start of the pandemic, according to a Post data analysis.

In the county’s suburban areas, hospitals are admitting an average of 50 covid-19 patients per day — five times the number of hospitalizations in June, Pritzker wrote on Facebook following the news of the closures.

The shutdowns in Chicago come the day after Pritzker announced mitigation efforts for the city’s suburbs, which will begin Wednesday.

October 27, 2020 at 8:15 PM EDT
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Senior Trump official tests positive for coronavirus after trip to Europe

By John Hudson

A senior Trump administration official tested positive for the coronavirus after a recent trip to Europe, raising concerns about the spread of the virus to high-level officials across the Atlantic, according to four U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the situation.

Peter Berkowitz, the director of policy planning at the State Department, met with senior officials in London, Budapest and Paris earlier this month. One official said that Berkowitz’s mask-wearing and social-distancing practices were lax during the trip and that U.S. embassy staff in Europe expressed some concerns before the trip about traveling during the pandemic.

A State Department spokeswoman denied that Berkowitz’s mask usage was insufficient and said that precautions were taken.

Since Berkowitz’s visit to London, British officials have started more selectively approving American delegations, officials said.

October 27, 2020 at 7:30 PM EDT
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Viola Hubbard has worked every election since 2008. Covid-19 won’t stop her.

By Michael Brice-Saddler

Despite a pandemic that presents increased risk for older adults, Viola Hubbard will take her place as a poll worker in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning, just as she has for every election since Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

As a site coordinator, it’s Hubbard’s job to make sure things run as smoothly as possible at Ballou High School in Southeast, one of 32 locations opening at 8:30 a.m. for the first day of in-person voting in the nation’s capital.

She’ll advise other poll workers, field questions from voters and ensure ballots are sealed and safely returned to the D.C. Board of Elections.

“I’m responsible for everything that is in that poll center,” said Hubbard, 72. “If someone needs help ­— if we’re overwhelmed and someone needs to take a break — I can step in.”

Coronavirus concerns prompted many older poll workers to sit out this year’s election, causing problems during the D.C. primary in June and spurring officials in Maryland and elsewhere to warn of possible shortages in November.

October 27, 2020 at 6:52 PM EDT
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Trump predicts massive stimulus deal after election, but negotiations have mostly ended

By Erica Werner

President Trump said Tuesday that the White House would approve a big stimulus package after the election and predicted that Republicans would retake control of the House of Representatives even though the GOP is widely expected to lose seats in the chamber next week.

“After the election, we’ll get the best stimulus package you’ve ever seen,” he said.

Trump’s comments came as the prospects of an economic relief deal appear to be withering after months of talks, a scenario that - combined with rising numbers of coronavirus cases - sent the stock market sharply lower Monday.

Congress left Washington until after the election without passing any new economic or health care relief measures even as the coronavirus pandemic surges and the economy sputters. Prospects for a stimulus deal remain in doubt and negotiations have largely been shelved after repeated failed attempts to broker a compromise.

October 27, 2020 at 6:06 PM EDT
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Pennsylvania tops record for new cases

By Meryl Kornfield

Pennsylvania reported 2,751 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the largest single-day tally of infections in the commonwealth since the start of the pandemic.

Tuesday’s count adds to the total of 198,446 Pennsylvania residents who have tested positive for the virus — as a surge in October has racked up the state’s overall numbers. The seven-day average in new cases, 1,939 infections, is also a record.

In Philadelphia, public-health officials warned that the uptick may lead to stricter guidelines if it goes unchecked. The city is experiencing its highest weekly case count since May, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said at a Tuesday news briefing, which could be the precursor to an increased number of deaths.

While Farley did not announce any new measures Tuesday, such as closing businesses, he said the city was “considering a range of options.”

Farley urged residents to take one immediate step to curb community spread of the coronavirus: Cancel in-person gatherings for the upcoming holidays, as parties and family events have seeded outbreaks, he said.

“We’re not going to get past this pandemic by Thanksgiving or by Hanukkah or by Christmas,” Farley said. “Family gatherings right now are simply very dangerous.”

October 27, 2020 at 5:38 PM EDT
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Tech optimism helps Nasdaq claw back ground after sell-off, but Dow and S&P sink lower

By Taylor Telford

Stocks extended their losses Tuesday following the steep sell-off that kicked off the week as investors continued to wrestle with the maelstrom of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and upcoming presidential election.

Optimism about Big Tech earnings fueled the Nasdaq to rise 0.64 percent to 11,431 as investors looked toward Microsoft’s earnings after the closing bell, a favorite of traders in the remote-everything age. But the Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 220 points, or .08, at 27,463, while the S&P 500 index closed down 0.3 percent, at 3,390.

The S&P slumped after market bellwether Caterpillar reported a 54 percent drop in third-quarter earnings, as the pandemic flattened demand for its equipment. Its stock closed down 3.15 percent.

“The Dow and S&P 500 Index struggled to match the NASDAQ’s M&A momentum and mega-cap earnings optimism gains as stimulus hopes faded until after the election and as investors temper ‘blue wave’ optimism,” Ed Moya, analyst with OANDA, wrote in comments emailed to The Post on Tuesday. “Tech stocks are riding higher on optimism that Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon will deliver solid results this week.”

Economic data is showing signs that the pandemic’s resurgence is already eroding the economic recovery. The index of consumer confidence declined slightly to 100.3 in October, the Conference Board said Tuesday, as Americans felt less certain about the economic future amid rising coronavirus cases and fading stimulus hopes. It was a slightly bigger drop than analysts expected, but the data was collected before the recent uptick in coronavirus cases.

“The skies over the economic outlook have gone cloudy and gray,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, wrote in comments emailed to The Post Tuesday. “Time will tell if the consumer’s downbeat attitude will result in a pullback in their spending.”

October 27, 2020 at 4:09 PM EDT
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Kansas nursing home where every resident was infected is terminated from Medicare program

By Brittany Shammas

A Kansas nursing home where all 63 residents became infected with the coronavirus and 10 died is being terminated as a Medicare skilled nursing facility.

After two residents of the Andbe Home began showing symptoms of the virus, administrators failed to prevent the virus from spreading, inspectors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found. The infected residents were not isolated from healthy residents and multiple employees did not wear masks, according to a report released Tuesday.

Residents were not quarantined and communal dining continued for two days after the first two residents began showing symptoms and had positive antigen tests on Oct. 5. Testing of all residents did not happen until a week later.

In addition to the 63 residents, 35 staff members have contracted the virus.

The nursing home is located in Norton County, which has led the nation in recent weeks in per capita infections and also has clusters of cases recorded at a correctional facility and at a bank.

A temporary manager is being appointed to correct the problems uncovered in the report effective Wednesday. The Andbe Home can be reinstated to the Medicare program if it proves it has reached compliance and will not repeat its past failures.

October 27, 2020 at 3:18 PM EDT
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Data shows Belgium has highest infection rate in the E.U. as hospital occupancy increases

By Ruby Mellen

Belgium has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the European Union, surpassing that of the Czech Republic, as cases climb and the country debates imposing a new national lockdown.

The country of 11 million people reported 1,390 confirmed new infections per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

Yves Van Laethem, Belgium’s coronavirus spokesman, said Monday hospitals were filling up at a concerning rate.

“Within four days, by the end of the week, we should pass the milestone of 1,000 patients in intensive care. Without changing the curve of our behavior, we should reach 2,000 patients in intensive care in two weeks, i.e. our maximum capacity,” he said.

The government will meet Friday to discuss further restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, Reuters reported. Parts of Belgium have already shuttered restaurants, mandated mask-wearing and increased safety measures in schools.

The effect of the virus in Belgium has been far-reaching. The Washington Post reported that so many people are either sick or quarantining that there are not enough health workers in hospitals, police on the street or teachers in classrooms.

“We have runaway numbers in terms of contamination and a major issue is the risk of the collapse of the hospital system of our country,” the minister-president of Brussels, Rudi Vervoort, said Saturday.