The Daily 202: Election pits Trump vs. the experts

This post was originally published on this site

with Mariana Alfaro

President Trump has not learned. A month ago, he was hospitalized with the coronavirus after announcing his Supreme Court nominee during a Rose Garden ceremony that became a superspreader event. On Tuesday night, the president plans to welcome 400 guests inside the East Room of the White House to watch election returns.

This election is first and foremost a referendum on Trump, specifically his handling of the pandemic. A great deal hinges on the outcome, including the future of the government’s response to the contagion and whether career federal scientists will be protected from future White House interference in their search for solutions. More broadly, these results will gauge how much society values the kinds of experts who have been marginalized and the sort of expertise that has been debased during the Trump era.

The poster child for this is Anthony Fauci, who has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president. During a rally in Miami on Sunday night, after the crowd chanted “Fire Fauci,” the president teased a post-election purge of federal health officials. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” he said. “I appreciate the advice.”

Joe Biden seized on this during a Monday rally. “Elect me, and I’m going to hire Dr. Fauci,” the Democratic nominee said at a drive-in rally in Cleveland. “I’m never going to wave the white flag of surrender. We’re going to beat this virus and get it under control, I promise you. Look, the first step to beating the virus is beating Donald Trump.”

Biden also scolded Trump for having “the gall” to suggest over the weekend that doctors exaggerate the covid-19 death toll because they get paid more if a patient dies of the disease. There is no evidence that this is happening. Hospitals in hot spots say Trump’s baseless accusations are a slap in the face.

Harrison Ford narrated a minute-long video on Monday for the Lincoln Project, a group led by anti-Trump Republican operatives, to highlight Trump playing footsie with firing Fauci. “Tomorrow, you can fire only one of them,” the actor says. “The choice is yours.” 

Trump could certainly still win, but his unconcealed disdain for experts is an important part of the larger explanation for why he has become so unpopular among the white-collar professional class. Education has become a bigger dividing line than ever between the two parties, and polls show college-educated voters breaking toward Biden.

Trump’s insistence on the campaign trail that the country is “rounding the turn” vis-a-vis the coronavirus is starkly at odds with reality and undermines the dire warnings from the country’s top public health officials that people need to take covid-19 more seriously. The United States confirmed more than 86,000 new infections on Monday, pushing the total count to 9.3 million. Twelve states recorded record numbers of hospitalizations, including the battleground states of Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin. At least 231,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus since March.

Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, called Monday for “much more aggressive action from messaging, to testing, to surging personnel around the country before the crisis point.”

Quote of the day

“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic,” Birx wrote in a memo. “This is not about lockdowns. It hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented. Cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30 percent of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic. … Half of the United States is in the red or orange zone for cases despite flat or declining testing.”

Birx’s internal report, shared with top White House and agency officials, contradicts Trump on numerous points. “While the president holds large campaign events with hundreds of attendees, most without masks, she explicitly warns against them. While the president blames rising cases on more testing, she says testing is ‘flat or declining’ in many areas where cases are rising. And while Trump says the country is ‘rounding the turn,’ Birx notes the country is entering its most dangerous period yet and will see more than 100,000 new cases a day this week,” Lena Sun and Josh Dawsey report.

“The president appears unpersuaded by such messages, convinced by new medical adviser Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no infectious-disease experience, that allowing healthy people to return to daily activities without restrictions will hasten herd immunity and bolster the economy … Birx’s report goes to pains to dispute Trump’s false claims that coronavirus cases are increasing only because of increases in testing. … Birx is said to be close to Vice President Pence, but he’s been on the road campaigning in recent weeks, taking his attention away from the coronavirus, according to a senior administration official.”

This is the fourth time in a century that voters are going to the polls amid a lethal viral outbreak, but unlike previous elections held in the shadow of flu, polio and HIV, the coronavirus has defined the 2020 contest. “Two-thirds of the public now personally know one of the 9.25 million people who have tested positive for the virus — a new high — polls show. And even more think the worst of the pandemic is yet to come,” per Lenny Bernstein and Joel Achenbach. “In the 1920 presidential election, voters faced a waning threat from the pandemic flu, there was no flu vaccine, and public health was seen as a local issue that did not merit intervention by the president. The [CDC] did not exist. Even during the 1918 off-year election, the pathogen that would eventually kill 675,000 Americans was not a major subject of debate.”

“We’ve never had an Election Day in the fog of a pandemic like this,” said Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan. “It will, perhaps, be called the pandemic election.”

Birx’s memo goes further than the comments from Fauci that drew the president’s ire. In an interview with The Washington Post on Friday night, Fauci said he and Birx lost the president’s ear as Trump worried increasingly about a sputtering economy and his reelection prospects. He lamented that the coronavirus task force meets less frequently.

“Right now, the public health aspect of the task force has diminished greatly,” Fauci said. “We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Fauci added that he actually appreciated White House chief of staff Mark Meadows saying last weekend on CNN that the Trump administration was not going to control the pandemic. “I tip my hat to him for admitting the strategy,” he said. “He is straightforward in telling you what’s on his mind.”

Sunday night was not the first time Trump has made clear he would like to fire Fauci. “People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,” Trump said on Oct. 19. “And yet we keep him. Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. But Fauci is a disaster.”

The president’s strategists acknowledge privately that Fauci is more trusted than Trump. That is why they included an out-of-context clip of the doctor in a campaign commercial last month to suggest that he somehow endorsed Trump’s handling of the crisis. Fauci demanded Trump remove the clip. “By doing this against my will they are, in effect, harassing me,” he told the Daily Beast.

Scenes from the final day of the 2020 presidential campaign
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Trump does not have the legal authority to directly fire Fauci since he’s not a presidential appointee, but this does not mean he wouldn’t be able to freeze him out or terminate him if he wanted to figure out a way to do so. Amid the worst pandemic in a century, it could set in motion a Saturday Night Massacre-style shakeup in the public health apparatus. “Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, would have to agree to fire Fauci, and Collins has said several times he would not fire or demote him. Collins may also be in Trump’s crosshairs. One scenario might be to sack Collins and install an acting director who was willing to carry out the order to fire Fauci,” per Anne Gearan, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Amy Goldstein and Dawsey.

“The fate of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar remains uncertain, but several officials close to Trump believe Azar would be replaced in a second term. If Trump loses, however, Azar could remain on the job through the end of Trump’s presidency, in January. … Also potentially at risk, according to people familiar with the matter, are the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, which is leading the effort to develop a vaccine. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn clashed with Azar over his decision to strip the FDA of its authority over certain coronavirus tests. Azar was furious about Hahn’s public apology in August for exaggerating the benefits of convalescent plasma — a covid-19 treatment that Trump had called a ‘historic breakthrough.’”

If Fauci got fired by someone Trump replaced Collins with, he would still need to be formally notified of the allegations of misconduct against him. Fauci would then have an opportunity to respond and present evidence to the Merit Systems Protection Board that his ouster was unwarranted. He could then appeal the board’s decision in federal court. “While these rules are still in place, a controversial executive order issued by Trump about two weeks ago could remove these long-held service protections from tens of thousands of civil servants, making it easier to dismiss them with little cause or recourse,” Paulina Villegas reports.

Trump’s Oct. 21 executive order, which strips civil service and due process protections from career federal employees involved in making policy, has met fierce resistance inside the agencies. “FDA officials see it as laying the groundwork for an across-the-board effort to replace longtime career scientists with political allies in a second Trump term,” Politico reports. “Multiple top FDA officials have raised concerns about the executive order directly to [Hahn] in recent weeks, voicing sharp opposition to the prospect of determining which employees would be eligible … That group includes Patrizia Cavazzoni, the acting head of the FDA’s drug center, who has suggested that she might submit a blank document if required to draw up a list of eligible workers.”

Not long ago, Trump pledged a vaccine would be approved before the election. His spokeswoman Alyssa Farrah recently clarified that “Election Day is kind of an arbitrary deadline.” Now Trump claims a vaccine is coming “momentarily” or before the end of the year, depending on the event. In many ways, the fact a vaccine was not already approved before it was ready is a testament to the scientists in the government doing their jobs. The FDA issued safety standards for a vaccine in September, despite White House objections. They do not appear to have caved to political pressure to speed up the timeline in ways they feared would be unsafe.

Trump paints election as choice between career politicians, outsiders
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Trump has not outlined a detailed vision for a second term. But he has made clear that the chaos of the last four years would continue in the next four. He said recently that he would do nothing differently if given the chance to try again. Asked during an NBC town hall on Oct. 15 how he would improve in a second term, Trump rejected the premise. “I’ve done a great job,” the president said.

Despite governing like a plutocrat, Trump continues to campaign like a populist. Despite being the most powerful elected official in the country since January 2017, Trump continues to grasp for the outside mantle. As he barnstormed four states on Monday, the president framed the 2020 election as chance to finally “dethrone the failed political class.” 

“Do you want to be represented by a career politician who hates you, or by an outsider who will defend you like you have never been defended before?” Trump asked in Fayetteville, N.C. “If I don’t sound like a typical Washington politician, it’s because I’m not a politician. If I don’t always play by the rules of the Washington establishment, it’s because I was elected to fight for you.”

Biden’s closing argument has been that he will lower the volume of the civic discourse and break the fever that grips Washington. The former vice president urged voters to choose “truth over lie after lie after lie” during his final rally on Monday night in Pittsburgh. Lady Gaga performed “Shallow” and “You and I” for the crowd, which was heavy on college students and waved Pittsburgh Steelers “Terrible Towels.”

“Tomorrow we can put an end to a presidency that has failed to protect this nation,” Biden said. “It’s time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home. … We’re done with the tweets, the anger, the failure, the irresponsibility. … We can be better than what we’ve been.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), his running mate, avoided saying Trump’s name during her Monday rallies. She referred to the president only as “you-know-who” in Luzerne, Pa. “Joe understands the significance and responsibility of our government in one of its core functions, which is to concern itself with the public health and well-being of the American people,” Harris said.

Tune in tonight for our live video coverage

I will join my colleague Libby Casey in our newsroom from 7 p.m. Eastern until midnight to analyze returns as they come in. The Post is making its own race calls. Our in-house data scientists and engineers will join the broadcast to provide insights on what internal modeling of actual and historical results says about the way battleground states are trending. We have reporters in three dozen states, and we’ll get live updates throughout the night from correspondents on the ground in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Delaware. Watch free on The Washington Post’s homepage or stream here on YouTube.

What else you need to know on E-Day

Today’s million-dollar question: Who is left to vote?

“More than 98 million Americans had cast ballots by Monday evening, an astonishing figure equal to about 70 percent of the total turnout four years ago — leaving election officials, the campaigns and the public overall wondering how heavy voting traffic would be on Tuesday,” Amy Gardner, Kayla Ruble, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Emma Brown report. “While at least three states — Texas, Hawaii and Montana — exceeded their total 2016 turnout with early and mail voting this year, other states have seen lower turnout that could foretell heavier Election Day traffic. Among battlegrounds, Pennsylvania had reached only about 40 percent of its 2016 levels by Monday, Ohio had hit 60 percent, and Michigan was also at 60 percent. But fresh signs Monday suggested that turnout was picking up in Michigan, as voters seeking to drop off their absentee ballots in person formed long lines in Detroit and other cities. … In other states, election officials who encountered huge numbers of voters in the past several weeks said they were not sure what to expect Tuesday. In Georgia, 3.9 million people had already voted as of Monday evening — edging close to the 4.2 million who turned out in 2016.”

  • Two tiny New Hampshire towns cast the nation’s first votes after midnight. Biden swept Dixville Notch, near the Canadian border, with five total votes. In Millsfield, 12 miles south, Trump won 16 votes to Biden’s five. (AP)
  • The CDC said people who test positive for covid-19 and are in isolation can still vote in person. In newly updated guidance, the agency says these voters should follow the standard advice to wear a mask, stay at least six feet away from others and sanitize their hands before voting. They should also let poll workers know that they’re sick or in quarantine.
  • At a municipal center in Detroit on Monday, a hospital worker named Mary said it took her two hours to cast a ballot. She’s scheduled to work a double shift on Tuesday, and the only way she could cast a ballot was to call in sick the day before. But the risk was worth it, she said, “because I want Trump out office.” (Ruble, Omar Sofradzija and Moriah Balingit)

Trump and Biden are focused on the North, but the South could determine an early winner.

“Biden campaign leaders said they expected Trump to falsely declare victory Tuesday night, before the tabulation of all mailed-in ballots. … Trump campaign advisers argued that Democrats were attempting to play down votes cast in-person on Tuesday, which Trump is expected to win,” Michael Scherer reports. “At his rally in Avoca, Pa., Trump again suggested without proof that late-arriving ballots could lead to chaos and fraud, calling the circumstance of an unknown election result ‘physically dangerous.’ … The Biden campaign arranged a call with reporters to argue that the nature of the electoral map, and the schedule for counting ballots in key states, meant it was impossible for Trump to declare a legitimate victory on Tuesday night. … Trump deputy campaign manager Justin Clark released a memo predicting that Democrats would soon file legal motions seeking to count late-returning ballots that should be voided by law. …

“Democrats expressed confidence that they now find themselves in, at minimum, a better position than four years ago … One continuing point of concern for Democrats was Biden’s advantage among Black and Hispanic voters, which has been smaller in many states than [Hillary] Clinton’s. The Trump campaign put out a news release Monday boasting of the campaign’s recent conversations with the rappers Lil Wayne and Ice Cube, and the president’s support from the rapper 50 Cent. … In Florida, Democrats admitted concern about early-voting numbers in Miami, traditionally a Democratic stronghold. Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has committed at least $100 million to winning the state, added an additional $500,000 over the weekend to that city’s television market, with an ad that featured former president Barack Obama praising Biden.

“But the focus of the candidates’ time has largely shifted northward. After a visit to North Carolina that had been canceled last week because of weather, Trump appeared in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Biden started in Ohio, before holding two events in Pennsylvania, where he plans to return on Tuesday for two stops. No state is more important in the electoral college map, because the polls there are measurably tighter than in Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin or Michigan, the other battlegrounds that could, often in combination, give Trump a win if he holds the southern states.

“If Trump posts early losses in southern states, especially Florida or Texas, the contest could be called early in Biden’s favor. But if Trump holds, the result could come down to states that will probably require more time to count. Pennsylvania is attempting a large vote-by-mail effort for the first time and will not start counting until Tuesday. Democrats emphasized that delays in getting the result are routine, particularly in high-turnout elections, not the result of a failure … Election results in Wisconsin probably won’t be known until at least early Wednesday morning, when Milwaukee, the state’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold, is expected to complete its count of roughly 175,000 absentee ballots … In North Carolina, Attorney General Josh Stein (D) told reporters that state officials expect to count as many as 97 percent of votes on Tuesday night. Still, he said if the election is close, a winner might not be known promptly.”

Biden’s five-point lead in Pennsylvania in the final NBC-Marist poll is within the margin of error. The candidates are tied in Arizona at 48 percent, per NBC-Marist. Biden leads Trump by five points in Florida and four points in Ohio, according to the final Quinnipiac University polling.

The Biden campaign’s barnstorm of the Keystone State was an effort to leave no geographical area or demographic unturned,Christine Spolar and Amy Wang report. “Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, visited western Pennsylvania with events that targeted union workers, labor leaders, African Americans, suburban women and rural voters. Meanwhile, Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, focused on the eastern part of the state, with events geared toward Latino voters, veterans, students and farmers. … In a message he has emphasized repeatedly on recent trips to Pennsylvania, Biden promised he would not ban fracking, as Trump has tried to mount a last-minute, pro-fracking push in the state.”

America is on edge

© Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg Extra fencing was erected Monday around Lafayette Square to create a buffer between protesters and the White House. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg)

Governors ready the National Guard for duty.

“Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) alerted up to 1,000 Guard members on Monday to be ready to provide assistance to state and local law enforcement should the need arise,” Alex Horton reports. “In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown (D) ordered a state of emergency for the Portland area from Monday to Wednesday … and put an unspecified number of National Guardsmen with relevant law-enforcement-type training on standby in case they are needed … National Guard members have already been tapped for election-related duty across the country, including preventing cyber-intrusions and, in some cases, preparing to assist as unarmed poll workers in civilian clothing. 

“The National Guard Bureau also created a 600-soldier quick-response unit of mostly military police, split up between Alabama and Arizona. They could mobilize in other states or in Washington … The movements and presence of National Guard troops have unnerved residents … National Guard Humvees in Illinois drove in a convoy toward Chicago on Monday, according to witnesses and social media posts, ahead of any public announcements about their activity. … In Philadelphia, soldiers from the Pennsylvania National Guard were mobilized after the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr. on Oct. 26 triggered waves of protests.”

  • An unidentified robocaller has placed an estimated 10 million calls warning people to “stay safe and stay home,” spooking some Americans who said they saw it as an attempt to scare them away from the polls on Election Day. (Tony Romm and Isaac Stanley-Becker)
  • A federal judge allowed Texas’s biggest county to use ballots cast via drive-through voting. (Neena Satija, Brittney Martin and Aaron Schaffer)
  • Trump’s efforts to limit mail-in voting could disenfranchise military families. (Dan Lamothe and Paul Sonne)
  • Federal officials coming to Minneapolis to monitor for election law violations will be positioned outside a 100-foot security zone set up around polling places, a perimeter prompted after Minnesota’s secretary of state questioned whether the Justice Department plan would violate state election laws. The department’s plan, not announced until Monday, will send staff to 44 jurisdictions across 18 states. (Holly Bailey and Tom Hamburger)
  • The Justice Department has called up 100 personnel from the Bureau of Prisons, as well as others from the Marshals Service, to mobilize in the streets of D.C. if there’s election-related unrest. (Daily Beast)
  • Georgia’s Fulton County, its largest and home to Atlanta, will send police officers to every polling site. (Reis Thebault)

Fearing riots, retailers across America board up windows and hire extra security.

Ferragamo, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana are boarded up on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. A number of stores along Magnificent Mile have boarded up in Chicago. In urban areas across the country, Saks Fifth Avenue and CVS are boarding up store windows and adding extra security. Neiman Marcus is closing all stores at 5 p.m. today. Walmart last week removed all guns and ammunition from thousands of store displays. “Commercial security companies and contractors say they’ve been fielding round-the-clock calls from business owners who are worried about protests and riots,” Abha Bhattarai and Hannah Denham report. “Retailers have already sustained an estimated $1 billion in insured losses from property damage and theft this year, according to early estimates from the Insurance Information Institute, making this year’s protests ‘the costliest civil disorder in U.S. history.’”

  • Facial recognition was used to identify a Lafayette Square protester accused of assaulting a police officer. He has been arrested. (Justin Jouvenal and Spencer Hsu)
  • A massive caravan of Trump supporters blocked access to a voting site in Riverside County, Calif., snarling traffic and upsetting voters. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Several tombstones in the Ahavas Israel Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Mich., were desecrated with “Trump” and “MAGA” graffiti in red spray. (The Hill)

Trump has told advisers he expects more legal scrutiny from prosecutors if he loses.

“Seldom far from Mr. Trump’s thoughts [for the last several weeks] is the possibility of defeat — and the potential consequences of being ejected from the White House,” the New York Times reports. “He is concerned not only about existing investigations in New York, but the potential for new federal probes as well, according to people who have spoken with him. While Mr. Trump has not aired those worries in the open, he has railed against the democratic process, raising baseless doubts about the integrity of the vote.” 

Jane Mayer looks at the stakes in the New Yorker: “Given that more than a dozen investigations and civil suits involving Trump are currently under way, he could be looking at an endgame even more perilous than the one confronted by Nixon. … Trump has famously survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. Few people have evaded consequences more cunningly. That run of good luck may well end, perhaps brutally, if he loses.”

Deutsche Bank “is looking for ways to end its relationship with Trump after the U.S. elections, as it tires of the negative publicity stemming from the ties,” three senior bank officials with direct knowledge tell Reuters: The bank “has about $340 million in loans outstanding to the Trump Organization … In meetings in recent months, a Deutsche Bank management committee that oversees reputational and other risks for the lender in the Americas region has discussed ways in which it could rid the bank of these last vestiges … The bank has over the years lent Trump more than $2 billion … One idea that has come up in the meetings: sell the loans in the secondary market … [T]hat idea has not gained traction, in part because it is not clear who would want to buy the loans and the attendant problems that come with it.”

A mother whose family was separated by Trump wonders if the election will lead to a reunion.

“Noyemi and Jarvin had been apart for two years, six months and four days, since the morning a Border Patrol officer in Roma, Tex., took the sleeping 3-year-old from Noyemi’s arms. Jarvin was almost 6 now. Their nightly phone call has become an exercise, she said, in reminding him ‘that I’m still his mom,’” Kevin Sieff reports. “‘I’m not sure what he remembers of me anymore.’ … For so long, it seemed they might never see each other again. But now, suddenly, there was a reason to be hopeful. She wondered: Should she tell him? … Noyemi and Jarvin are among an unknown number of migrant parents and children who were separated under the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy and have not been reunited. … Biden [has] pledged to create a task force to reunite the still-separated families.”

Meanwhile, when lifelong Democrat Mayra Gomez, 41, told her 21-year-old son five months ago that she was voting for Trump because of his hard line on illegal immigration, he cut her out of his life. “He specifically told me, ‘You are no longer my mother, because you are voting for Trump’,” Gomez, a personal care worker in Milwaukee, told Reuters, which reports that this is a trend playing out from coast to coast.

More on the coronavirus

The U.S. economy will face severe strains after the election.

“Millions of Americans are at risk of having their power and water shut off with unpaid utility bills coming due, while protections for renters, student borrowers and jobless Americans will expire by the end of the year absent federal action,” Jeff Stein reports. “With cold weather expected to curb outdoor dining, 40 percent of all restaurant owners nationwide say they expect to go out of business by March without more government assistance. … Nearly 4 million travel industry jobs have been lost during the pandemic, and an additional 1 million could vanish by the year’s end without federal intervention. The largest hotel industry group said in September that 2 in 3 U.S. hotels would not last another six months. … 

“Several million people will begin to exhaust their base unemployment benefits starting in the middle of December. Absent action, a separate federal unemployment program for as many as 10 million gig workers and others not eligible for traditional unemployment insurance will expire Dec. 31. … Renters will still be required to pay for the months when they missed payments, creating a backlog that could put 30 million to 40 million Americans nationwide at risk of eviction once the moratorium expire.”

  • In Utah, overwhelmed hospitals have started placing adult patients in pediatric beds. (Salt Lake Tribune)
  • Hospitals are competing for nurses as cases surge. “Nurses are being trained to provide care in fields where they have limited experience. Hospitals are scaling back services to ensure enough staff to handle critically ill patients. And health systems are turning to short-term travel nurses to help fill the gaps,” the AP reports.
  • States are rolling back reopening plans and reestablishing restrictions, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Illinois.
  • Connecticut banned dining “igloos” and other podlike structures that are becoming popular alternatives to indoor dining. Experts say these enclosures replicate the same conditions that make indoor dining dangerous in the first place. (Hartford Courant)
  • Virginia is recording more infections that at any point during the pandemic. The seven-day average of new cases across the D.C. region is 2,274, eclipsing the previous record set in May. (Dana Hedgpeth, Lola Fadulu, Michael Brice-Saddler and Erin Cox)
  • D.C. Public Schools scrapped plans to bring some students into the classroom on Nov. 9. The reversal came as educators staged a sick-in, forcing the cancellation of online lessons. (Perry Stein)
  • Colleges and universities plan to ramp up testing ahead of Thanksgiving. (Nick Anderson)
  • The Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers have all reported positive tests among players. (Mark Maske)
  • The pandemic subsided in Arizona with mask mandates. American can learn from this. (Karin Brulliard and Jeremy Duda)
  • New CDC statistics show pregnant women are almost three times more likely to be admitted to intensive care units, and more than three times more likely to be put on a ventilator, if they get covid-19. But the overall risk of fatality remains small because they tend to be younger and healthier. (William Wan)

The new world order

© Mason Trinca/For The Washington Post Michelle Reeves helps her son, Ransom, 8, pack his belongings at their home in Portland, Ore., as they flee for Australia. (Mason Trinca for The Washington Post)

Weary from political strife and the pandemic, some Americans are fleeing the country.

“Americans are leaving the country or seeking foreign visas in record numbers, according to immigration lawyers and expatriate organizations,” Emily Wax-Thibodeaux reports. “The exodus has been led by parents looking for countries with open and safe schools and by members of marginalized groups fed up with institutionalized racism, shaken by the visibility of white supremacists and worried about what a Supreme Court swing to the right will mean for their civil liberties. They’re largely Americans with financial means and the ability to work virtually, and some are dual citizens and their spouses. … 

Heather Segal, a Canadian immigration attorney, said inquiries to her Toronto office became relentless after Trump hesitated in condemning white supremacists at the first presidential debate in late September. ‘I had call, after call, after call — so many that one day I felt like an immigration attorney in 1939 Germany,’ Segal said. ‘People start telling me their stories, saying they feel unsafe, exhausted, like they are almost pleading their case.’ The number of Americans who were recorded as having given up their citizenship or U.S. residency soared to 5,816 in the first six months of 2020, compared with 2,072 in all of 2019, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. In the third quarter, the numbers dropped dramatically to about 800, as embassies curbed services because of the pandemic.”

Friend and foe are watching our election with anxiety and hope.

“Biden has promised to restore a more traditional strategy to foreign policy. He has said that one of his first acts as president would be to ‘get on the phone with the heads of state and say, ‘America’s back, you can count on us,'” Joanna Slater, Gerry Shih and Robyn Dixon report. “A mood of cautious expectation spread over the Asia Pacific, a region that has been heavily shaped the last two years by the Trump administration’s confrontation with China. In China, the U.S. election dominated social media chatter. … In Israel, observers said a Biden win — after four years of close partnership between Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — could accelerate the end of the current compromise government in Jerusalem and lead to elections in a matter of months. … For some world leaders, the Trump years have proved to be a window of opportunity, particularly for like-minded right-leaning nationalists. Several such politicians have already expressed their hope that Trump will be reelected, including the leaders of Hungary, Brazil, the Philippines and Slovenia.”

  • Multiple gunmen armed with rifles carried out a coordinated attack in central Vienna, killing at least three and injuring more than a dozen as Austrians gathered in bars and restaurants to enjoy the last hours before a new coronavirus lockdown. The attackers opened fire in six separate locations. At least one suspect has been killed by law enforcement. Authorities said the attack was committed by “at least one Islamist terrorist.” (Denise Hruby and Loveday Morris)
  • An Islamic State attack on Kabul University left at least 22 dead and 22 wounded. Two gunmen stormed the campus and took several students hostage for hours before the hostages were freed. (Susannah George and Sharif Hassan)
  • Super Typhoon Goni, the world’s strongest storm this year, left a trail of devastation in the Philippines. At least 20 are dead, and 125 cities have no electricity. (Regine Cabato)
  • Hurricane Eta is forecast to deliver “catastrophic” Category 5 rains to Nicaragua. (Matthew Cappucci)
  • Attorneys defending Saudi Arabia from lawsuits by 9/11 families will represent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against allegations in Washington that he targeted a former top Saudi intelligence official for assassination to prevent the spilling of secrets about his climb to power. (Spencer Hsu)

As rich countries hoard potential vaccine doses, the rest of the world could go without.

“An analysis from researchers at Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center, found that high- and middle-income countries have already purchased 3.8 billion doses, with options for 5 billion more,” Emily Rauhala reports. “As a result, relatively wealthy nations will likely be able to vaccinate their entire populations, with billions of others relegated to the back of the line. People in low-income countries could be waiting until 2024. These deals between countries and drug manufacturers, known as advance purchase agreements, are undermining a World Health Organization-linked initiative to equitably distribute vaccines.”

Hospitals in Europe are calculating, once again, how long it will be until their ICUs hit capacity. “Germany, Europe’s best-resourced nation, risks being swamped even after increasing its intensive care beds by a quarter over the summer. Belgium, which had doubled its intensive care capacity, is now preparing for decisions about which needy patient should get a bed,” Michael Birnbaum and Loveday Morris report. “The European Union reported 1.2 million cases over the past week, the highest yet during the pandemic.”

Social media speed read

Biden visited his childhood home this morning in Scranton, Pa.:

Ryan Mahoney, who served as the Republican National Committee’s communications director during the 2018 midterms under current chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, announced that he voted for Biden: 

Aya Hijazi, an American charity worker who was imprisoned in Cairo for three years before being released in 2017, endorsed Biden. Trump often touts his hostage-release record:

Videos of the day

Seth Meyers can’t believe Trump’s closing message is “Fire Fauci”:

Stephen Colbert was surprisingly calm the night before the election, saying the American public has “given Donald Trump a chance”: 

President Warren Harding didn’t let Prohibition stop him from drinking champagne cocktails, so you shouldn’t let today’s election stop you from drinking a French 75. Mary Beth Albright shows you how:

All the Presidents’ Drinks: Warren Harding’s Champagne Cocktail
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