Much of the presidential election battleground is now in the ‘red zone.’
The coronavirus has been spreading rapidly in four of six key battleground states crucial to the presidential election in November — Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The states are among 21 recently declared to be in the “red zone” in a report by the federal government because of the substantial number of new virus cases reported there each day.
If the presumptive Democratic nominee and former vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., wins the states won by Hillary Clinton four years ago, many combinations of any three of six swing states would be enough to defeat Mr. Trump. In addition to the four swing states labeled “red zones,” the list contains Michigan and Pennsylvania, which have not seen major spikes in cases in recent weeks.
Already many states are revisiting their mail-in voting policies, so that voters will not have to go to polling stations and risk infection. The six swing states have either always allowed relatively easy mail-in voting or have recently made it easier. Currently, eight states allow mail-in or absentee ballots only with an approved excuse. The issue continues to be a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans.
A recent New York Times analysis also suggests that the increasing number of virus-related deaths is damaging Republican support in some communities.
On Wednesday, the country surpassed 150,000 deaths, and deaths have been on the rise in Arizona, Wisconsin and Florida, which on Wednesday reported more than 216 fatalities, according to a New York Times database, surpassing its previous high of 186, which was recorded the day before.
And some states that are considered safe for Mr. Trump have been struggling to contain the virus in recent weeks and are among the 21 states labeled red zones: Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Mr. Trump has dismissed polls that have him trailing Mr. Biden, and on Tuesday played down the severity of the pandemic in the United States, citing nonexistent “corona-free” areas of the country.
New data Thursday morning will almost certainly show that economic output fell at its fastest pace on record last spring.
Economists surveyed by FactSet expect the Commerce Department to report that U.S. gross domestic product fell by more than 10 percent in the second quarter of the year. That would translate to a 34.6 percent annual rate of decline.
If the number even approaches those forecasts, it would represent a collapse of breathtaking speed and severity. By comparison, economic output fell 4 percent during the entirety of the Great Recession a decade ago — and took 18 months to sink that far.
“Never have we seen such large declines in activity at such a rapid pace,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist for Oxford Economics.
In response to the pandemic crisis, Congress pumped trillions of dollars into the economy. The plan worked at first: After plunging in March and April, spending and employment rebounded in May and June.
In recent weeks, however, infections have surged in much of the country. Data from public and private sources indicate a pullback in economic activity, reflecting consumer unease and renewed shutdowns.
“In another world, a sharp drop in activity would have been just a good, necessary blip while we addressed the virus,” said Heather Boushey, president of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a progressive research institute. “From where we sit in July, we know that this wasn’t just a short-term blip.”
Jobless numbers will also be released Thursday morning. Economists are expecting the tally of new state unemployment claims filed last week to total 1.43 million, about the same as the week before.
The death toll rises in Australia, which once had the outbreak under control.
Australia has recorded its deadliest day since the pandemic began, with 13 deaths reported on Wednesday, all in the southern state of Victoria, which also had 723 new cases. A total of 21 new cases were recorded in other states, as the authorities tightened borders and local restrictions.
The record numbers are largely the result of outbreaks in nursing homes, as well as people going into work while symptomatic, the authorities said.
“This is incredibly serious. And every time somebody doesn’t do the right thing, every time somebody contributes to the spread of the virus, then that means that another family will be having to plan a funeral,” Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.
“Unless everyone plays their part this lockdown will not end anytime soon,” he added.
While Australia’s figures pale in comparison to the tens of thousands of new cases each day in the United States, they are significant in a country that had appeared to contain the virus to manageable levels before an outbreak in early July, which is thought to have spread from hotel quarantine facilities in Melbourne.
Masks, which the health authorities had advised only for those experiencing symptoms, have since become mandatory in the city. Starting on Sunday they will be enforced across the state of Victoria, where restrictions on private gatherings have also increased.
“We have now been in this lockdown now for some weeks, and we are not getting the results we would hope for,” Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, told reporters in Canberra. The high rates of community transmission, he added, were of “great concern.”
After a rare double lung transplant, a Covid-19 patient is released from the hospital.
She was the first Covid-19 patient in the United States to receive a double lung transplant, and now she is back home.
The last thing Mayra Ramirez, 28, remembers is calling her family from the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and telling them she was about to be put on a ventilator. She needed her mother to make medical decisions for her.
Ms. Ramirez did not wake up for more than six weeks, in early June, and only then did she learn about the double transplant.
On Wednesday, she went home from the hospital.
“I’m pretty sure that if I had been at another center, they would have just ended care and let me die,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.
Ms. Ramirez is one of a small but growing number of patients whose lungs have been destroyed by the coronavirus, and whose only hope of survival is a lung transplant.
The surgery is considered a desperate measure, and is reserved for people with fatal, irreversible lung damage. Doctors do not want to remove a person’s lungs if there is any chance they will heal. Over all, only about 2,700 lung transplants were performed in the United States last year.
Patients must be sick enough to need a transplant, and yet also strong enough to recover from the operation. With a new disease, doctors are still learning how to strike that balance.
“It’s such a paradigm change,” said Dr. Ankit Bharat, who operated on Ms. Ramirez. “Lung transplant has not been considered a treatment option for an infectious disease, so people need to get a little bit more of a comfort level with it.”
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Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Ben Casselman and Denise Grady.