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 United States reported nearly 100,000 new coronavirus cases in a day on Friday, setting a record as a fall wave of infections surge in every swing state that will be crucial to next week’s presidential election.

The number of infections nationwide surpassed 9 million reported infections on Friday, just 15 days after the tally hit 8 million. At least 229,000 deaths have been linked to the coronavirus.

Here are some significant developments:
  • Belgian authorities on Friday announced a six-week closure of nonessential businesses and tight limits on social contacts as the country tries to stave off caseloads that could fill hospitals to capacity within a week.
  • A growing number of government scientists and physicians are pushing back against the president’s political agenda when it comes to the pandemic.
  • State health officials say they do not have enough money to distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it is approved.
  • U.S. household spending, the primary engine of the economy, soared in September before coronavirus infections started increasing across the country, fresh economic data shows.
3:30 a.m.
Link copied
link

Hawaii is open to tourists. Here’s what locals want you to know before you go.

By Natalie Compton

Like most travel dreams during the pandemic, a visit to Hawaii became untenable once the state started issuing strict self-quarantine orders for all arrivals in March. Since then, Hawaii has been developing its Safe Travels program to bring tourists back safely, and on Oct. 15, the state began to allow visitors to bypass the 14-day quarantine if they could provide negative covid-19 test results.

In addition to fears of new cases brought by tourists, residents have had their own outbreaks to handle. On Tuesday, Hawaii’s governor issued a stay-at-home order and travel restrictions for the island of Lanai after the state Department of Health reported 79 infections in the community.

As the state’s tourism numbers continue to climb, how do Hawaii locals feel about receiving visitors? We spoke to six to find out what they want mainland visitors to know before booking a trip.

2:45 a.m.
Link copied
link

Coronavirus infections jump to three-month high in the Washington region

By Dana Hedgpeth

Coronavirus caseloads in the greater Washington region jumped to a three-month high Friday, with the area recording some of the highest rates of infection since the height of the pandemic.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia climbed to 2,073 — the highest since July 31, when the average was 2,082 daily cases. Caseloads have risen since the start of October as part of a national surge that has lifted several states to record highs.

The region’s average number of daily infections hovered Friday just below the record set on May 31, when it stood at 2,218 daily cases.

2:00 a.m.
Link copied
link

Euro zone records unexpected record third-quarter recovery, though economists caution of a bleak winter

By Miriam Berger

Europe’s economy grew by a surprising 12.7 percent in the third quarter of 2020, defying worst-case predictions about the pandemic’s short-term market impact even as millions of households continue to suffer.

Economists attributed Europe’s unexpectedly large rebound — the biggest increase since the European Union began counting in 1995 — to the easing of lockdowns this summer and the reopening of many businesses. But as cases now surge again around the continent — and countries like France, Germany and Italy in turn reimpose restrictions on economies and communities — analysts worry that an even bleaker winter economy could be coming.

Still, the numbers released Friday by Eurostat, the E.U.’s statistics agency, have offered some cause for cheer. Eurostat’s figures cover 19 E.U. countries that use the euro as their currency. The euro zone bloc recorded an 11.8 percent contraction in the second quarter of 2020. Economists had consequently predicted growth of only about 10 percent in the third quarter. Instead, France, followed by Spain and Italy, led the continent’s significant rebound.

The United States has similarly recorded a strong third-quarter economy — even as millions of Americans have lost their jobs and struggle to make ends meet. Economists there have also cautioned that economic growth in the summer months is likely to be followed by slowdowns in the winter, as more people remain inside, where the coronavirus is more easily spread.

Looking ahead, European Central Bank head Christine Lagarde on Thursday said she expected November’s numbers to be “very negative,” the Associated Press reported.

1:57 a.m.
Link copied
link

San Francisco halts partial reopening plan amid uptick in covid-19 cases

By Darren Sands

San Francisco on Friday said it would temporarily pause plans to reopen more businesses and allow more people into indoor venues after a recent uptick in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. The move, announced by Mayor London Breed, reflects the city’s conservative approach to reopening its economy in the pandemic as it attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“I know that so many San Franciscans have been hearing the stories about how great San Francisco has been doing in fighting the virus, but the fact is that we’re still in the midst of a pandemic,” Breed said. “Today is a reminder that [while] we are doing well, we are starting to see a slight uptick in the number of hospitalizations.

“With this pause, our public health experts can evaluate our cases and hospitalizations so that we can work to stay ahead of this virus and keep our community safe,” Breed said.

The city has reported 12,320 cases with 147 deaths.

San Francisco was the first big city in California to enter the least restrictive reopening tier. Officials were open to adjustments when cases rose, and they would take precautionary steps and backtrack on stated plans, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

1:30 a.m.
Link copied
link

‘A different Christmas’: World leaders warn that the coronavirus will put holiday celebrations in jeopardy

By Adam Taylor

With the coronavirus pandemic surging in many parts of the globe, amid widespread fears that it could overwhelm national health-care systems, world leaders are warning as the holiday season approaches that Christmas, like much else this year, could look “very different” than usual.

Both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized concerns about the holiday, often a time of travel and large, multigenerational indoor gatherings, as they announced new novel coronavirus shutdowns this week.

Speaking Wednesday, Macron said that he hoped that a 15-day lockdown would be sufficient to curb the virus and said he wanted to “cultivate the hope to celebrate with our families the previous moments that are Christmas and end-of-year festivities.”

12:45 a.m.
Link copied
link

U.N. panel warns of deadlier future pandemics driven by human activities

By Paulina Villegas

A United Nations biodiversity panel delivered a withering warning Thursday to the humanity: Future pandemics will be more deadly, occur more often and cause more damage to the world’s economies than the current coronavirus if humans do not drastically change the way they treat nature.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) concluded in a special report on biodiversity and pandemics that “pandemics represent an existential threat to the health and welfare of people across our planet.”

The evidence reviewed in the report found that without concrete and sweeping intergovernmental actions, including prevention strategies, pandemics will emerge “more often, spread more rapidly, kill more people and affect the global economy with more devastating impact than ever before.”

“There is no great mystery about the cause of the covid-19 pandemic — or any modern pandemic,” said Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance and chair of the IPBES workshop that drafted the report, according to AFP.

The authors of the report also warned that from an estimated 1.7 million undiscovered viruses that presumably exist in animals, as many as 850,000 could infect humans in the future.

Unsustainable exploitation of the environment, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity and extended wildlife trade and consumption are all human activities that, if continued at current rates, will cause substantial future pandemic risk, the panel found.

“The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk though their impacts on our agriculture,” the panel concluded, adding that blaming wildlife for the emergence of diseases is erroneous: “emergence is caused by human activities and the impacts of these activities on the environment.”

The novel coronavirus is the sixth pandemic since the influenza outbreak of 1918 that is entirely driven by human activities.

A majority of emerging diseases (70 percent), including Ebola, Zika and almost all pandemics — including the current one — are of animal origin, which “spill over” due to contact among wildlife, livestock and people, the report said.

The report also gave a somber assessment of future diseases: Around five new diseases break out among humans every year, and all of them have the potential to become a pandemic.

12:00 a.m.
Link copied
link

Researchers find ‘glimmers of hope’ after inviting thousands to indoor concert amid pandemic

By Rick Noack

BERLIN — German researchers who invited thousands of people to a concert two months ago to study gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic have found “glimmers of hope” for the future of indoor events amid the spread of the virus.

Mandatory mask-wearing, adequate ventilation systems, additional entrances and other measures could help to reduce the risk of infection significantly, the researchers said at a news conference Thursday, summarizing the initial results of a government-funded study to be published in the coming days. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

In one scenario modeled by the scientists, the infection risk for participants and their contacts was around 70 times lower when health and safety instructions were followed, compared with what it could have been under pre-pandemic behavior.

11:46 p.m.
Link copied
link

U.S. sets record with nearly 100,000 new cases in one day

By Hannah Knowles and Jacqueline Dupree

The United States reported more than 98,000 new coronavirus cases in a day on Friday, setting a record as a fall wave of infections spread widely around the country threatens to overwhelm some health systems.

The milestone — the first daily tally above 90,000 — came a week after the country passed 80,000 cases in a day, breaking the record set during a summer case surge concentrated in the Sun Belt. Experts have long predicted another spike in cases as cold weather sends many indoors and aids the virus’s spread. The holiday travel season has public health officials worried too. And cases are surging in every swing state that is crucial to next week’s presidential election.

Total confirmed cases in the U.S. topped 9 million Friday, with the last 1 million recorded in just over two weeks. Increased testing alone does not explain the jump in cases; current coronavirus hospitalizations are steadily rising again, though they have yet to surpass the summer’s peak.

Sixteen states surpassed their previous highs for daily new infections Friday. Nationwide, average daily deaths related to the coronavirus rose over the past week, as the death toll to date nears 230,000.

Some officials are enacting new rules to fight the viral wave. In Illinois, for instance, Friday’s record case count came as the state rolls out new restrictions on indoor dining. Illinois tallied 8,489 new cases, according to data tracked by The Post, far higher than the state’s last peak in May. About 1,500 of Friday’s cases are newly reported probable infections, which the state adds to its totals once a week.

Renewed restrictions aimed at slowing the virus are also facing pushback. In Wisconsin, a statewide order limiting indoor gatherings is caught up in a court challenge. In El Paso — where hospitals are so full that critically ill coronavirus patients are being flown to other cities — the county judge’s shutdown order for nonessential businesses drew an immediate rebuke from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who said the judge has “no authority” for the measure.

Kim Bellware contributed to this report.

11:24 p.m.
Link copied
link

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp quarantines after exposure at mask-optional pro-Trump rally

By Meryl Kornfield

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said Friday that he will self-quarantine after he and his wife tested negative for the coronavirus, a precaution following “direct exposure” with someone who tested positive.

Kemp’s office said he was not feeling symptomatic. His wife, Marty Kemp, was not exposed to a known case, and the statement did not specify if she would quarantine with her husband.

The announcement comes the same day Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), who Kemp came into contact with, said he began to run a fever and tested positive for the virus. The two were among several high-ranking Georgia Republicans in attendance at a pro-Trump counter-rally Tuesday when Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden visited the state.

From legal battles with Democratic mayors over his opposition to local mask mandates, to reopening his state when even Trump said it was “too soon,” Kemp has faced a contentious time handling the virus that has infected 385,208 people and killed 7,955 in his state. Kemp has pushed back against prolonged closures, arguing that economic recovery was a top priority.

All businesses are allowed to be open in the state, but gatherings remain capped at 50 people and they must be socially distanced. Kemp has flouted those restrictions, appearing Tuesday at the Manchester counter-rally, where the audience of more than 100 did not appear to be wearing masks or spaced six feet apart.

It’s unclear how Kemp will be able to vote while in quarantine. Kemp requested an absentee ballot Friday, raising questions about how it will arrive in the mail before Election Day, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Absentee ballots must be received by election officials before 7 p.m. on Election Day, according to a federal appeals court ruling on Oct. 2.

A spokesperson for the governor did not immediately respond to questions from The Post about Kemp’s voting plan.

9:29 p.m.
Link copied
link

The coronavirus keeps most London theaters dark, while performers stock grocery shelves

By Karla Adam and William Booth

LONDON — At the gilded playhouses in the world’s most popular theater district, most of the marquee lights are still dark.

Since the government ordered London’s stages closed seven months ago, only a handful of theaters have dared to announce reopening plans — with limited runs, limited casts and socially distanced audiences scattered in the seats. Producers say ticket sales will barely cover the electricity bill.

The impact of enduring restrictions has been catastrophic for London’s creative class. An estimated 290,000 people work in the theater here — onstage and behind the scenes — and many have had to seek paychecks where they can. Furloughed actors are stocking shelves in grocery stores. Musicians are hammering nails at construction sites.

“This is tough,” said top producer Nica Burns, whose company, Nimax, runs six theaters in London’s West End. “This isn’t just a job. It’s life choice.”

9:04 p.m.
Link copied
link

Dow caps volatile October with worst weekly finish since March

By Hamza Shaban

The three major U.S. stock indexes closed out the final trading day of a turbulent October with more losses, capping a wretched week marked by a record surge in coronavirus infections, dashed hopes for an economic rescue deal before the election and renewed fears of a new wave of business disruptions.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 157.51 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 26.501.60. The blue-chip index has shed 6.5 percent since Monday, marking its worst week since March. It also fell 4.6 in October to record its second straight monthly loss. The S&P 500 index tumbled 40.15 points, or 1.2 percent, to settle at 3,269.96. The tech heavy-Nasdaq gave up nearly 274.00 points, or 2.5 percent, to end at 10,911.59.

The blue-chip index moved into correction territory this week, after falling more than 10 percent from its February peak. October is typically the most volatile month for stock traders, although it has rewarded investors more times it has punished them.

9:00 p.m.
Link copied
link

Analysis: Explaining Donald Trump Jr.’s embarrassing claim about the coronavirus death toll

By Aaron Blake

President Trump and his allies have frequently misstated or bungled the coronavirus data, but few have butchered it as badly as Donald Trump Jr. just did.

Trump Jr. appeared on the friendly prime-time airwaves of Fox News on Thursday night and confidently stated not once but twice that the coronavirus death toll is approaching nil.

“People are truly morons,” he began, before adding: “The reality is this — I put it up on my Instagram a couple days ago, because I went through the CDC data, because I kept hearing about new cases, but I was like why aren’t they talking about deaths? Oh, oh: because the number is almost nothing.”

8:15 p.m.
Link copied
link

Trump’s pandemic agenda shoved government scientists aside. They’re attempting an 11th-hour comeback.

By Laurie McGinley, Lena H. Sun, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey

After months of being sidelined or outright attacked by President Trump, a growing number of government scientists and physicians are pushing back against the president’s political agenda when it comes to the pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration issued beefed-up safety standards for a vaccine in September, making the president’s push for a vaccine before Election Day all but impossible. After initially acquiescing to the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed controversial guidelines that had called for less testing for individuals exposed to the novel coronavirus who showed no symptoms.

And Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator who no longer sees Trump regularly, travels the country urging state and local officials to adopt mask mandates, close down bars and restrict large gatherings — measures antithetical to Trump’s contention that the virus has been defeated and people should return to their lives.

7:30 p.m.
Link copied
link

Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia tests positive for coronavirus after helping lead Trump counter-rally

By John Wagner

Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), who co-hosted a pro-Trump counter-rally Tuesday when Biden came to Georgia, announced Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), another co-host of the event, said he would self-isolate after being exposed to someone who tested positive.

In a statement, Ferguson said he has begun working from home.

“While the vast majority of my recent schedule has been virtual, we are beginning the process of reaching to anyone I have seen in recent days,” Ferguson said.

Cody Hall, a spokesman for Kemp, said in a tweet that the governor and first lady Marty Kemp were both self-quarantining after exposure to someone who tested positive. The tweet did not name the person.

Kemp and Ferguson were among the leaders of a “MAGA Meetup” on Tuesday in Manchester, Ga., as Biden campaigned in the state.