(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)
Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.
1. The country’s coronavirus death toll is rising fast.
More than 245,00 people have died from the coronavirus in the U.S., more than in any other country, and the pace is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks. One epidemiologist summed up the crisis in stark terms: “The months ahead are looking quite horrifying.”
More than 1,000 Americans are dying of the coronavirus every day on average, a 50 percent increase in the past month. By some estimates, the U.S. may soon be on track to reach or exceed the spring peak, when as many as 2,200 people were dying from the coronavirus every day. Here’s the latest map and case count.
The infection rate continues to shatter records: On Friday, public health officials reported more than 181,000 new cases across the country. It was only eight days earlier that the U.S. reported its first 100,000-case day.
Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, which has critically understaffed hospitals and the highest per capita rates for new coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S., put in place a mask mandate and new limits on indoor dining.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico announced the nation’s most sweeping statewide measure of the fall season, issuing a two-week “stay at home” order to begin on Monday; Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon placed the state in a partial lockdown for two weeks starting on Wednesday.
President Trump, in his first public address since losing re-election, made no acknowledgment of the rising coronavirus numbers. President-elect Joe Biden called the federal response to the surge “woefully lacking” and urged Mr. Trump to do more.
3. Emergency authorization for a coronavirus vaccine may come as soon as next month. Then it’s up to states and cities to inoculate and track as many as 20 million people by year’s end.
That could be a problem.
State and local officials say they are billions of dollars short of what will be needed to carry out the federal government’s complex plans. Congress has allocated $10 billion for drug companies to develop a coronavirus vaccine, but localities have received only a fraction of that amount for training, record-keeping and other costs for vaccinating citizens.
4. The election is over. Neither party got all it wanted.
The election delivered a split decision, ousting President Trump but narrowing the Democratic majority in the House and perhaps preserving the Republican majority in the Senate. The results leave no mandate for the left or the right, but rather a muddled plea to move on from Trump-style chaos.
Now, the two parties face perhaps the most unsettled and up-for-grabs electoral map the country has seen in a generation.
The path President-elect Joe Biden took to get back to Washington offers a road map for how he’ll lead the nation. Here are four key elements of how Mr. Biden may approach governing come January.
5. The divisions that marked President Trump’s tenure show no signs of receding.
Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede the election has inspired thousands of his supporters nationwide to protest President-elect Joe Biden’s victory as illegitimate. On Saturday, Mr. Trump waved to his supporters protesting the election results in Washington as he drove past them in his motorcade. Many in the crowds of thousands were not wearing masks.
The demonstrations came after Mr. Trump’s loss in the Electoral College grew on Friday and his legal maneuverings continued to hit wall after wall.
Mr. Biden ran on the promise to restore the “soul of the nation.” But he now faces a towering wall of Republican resistance.
“My Democratic friends think Biden is going to heal everything and unify everyone,” said a resident of Mason, Texas. “They are deceived.”
6. It is hard to think of a human rights hero whose global prestige has tarnished so quickly as that of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ten years after she left house arrest and vowed to fight for justice, Myanmar’s civilian leader has instead become a jailer of critics and an apologist for the slaughter of Rohingya Muslims.
Yet even as Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has squandered the moral authority that came with her Nobel Peace Prize, her popularity at home has endured. This week, her political party won yet another landslide in general elections.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi is not the only Nobel Peace Prize winner whose recognition is being second-guessed. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, who won the prize last year, has moved his country to the brink of civil war.
7. The Masters are heading into the last day of a tournament that looks — and sounds — very different from what we’ve come to expect.
The swell of the tournament’s spectators has long provided a dramatic soundtrack to the Masters’ most memorable finishes at Augusta National Golf Club. But spectators are now barred because of the coronavirus, so golfers will play their final rounds a cappella.
Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world, leads the board heading into Sunday. Tiger Woods, the defending champion, above, was knocked out of contention.
8. Michael J. Fox can teach you something about living with uncertainty.
After undergoing spinal surgery, learning to walk again and then badly fracturing his arm, the actor and activist, who has lived with Parkinson’s disease for nearly three decades, wondered if he had oversold the idea of hope in his first three books. “I thought, what have I been telling people?” he said. “I tell people it’s all going to be OK — and it might suck!”
His solution was to channel that honesty into a fourth memoir, “No Time Like the Future,” about his newfound, uniquely upbeat brand of pessimism.
We also spoke to Sophia Loren, 86, about her first feature film in 10 years, “The Life Ahead,” a new Netflix drama.
9. Après ski at home.
The days are growing colder and al fresco dining is here to stay, which means a liquid layer is in order. We asked three bartenders to share their favorite recipes for boozy hot chocolate to enjoy during what may turn out to be a long and possibly dark winter.
Alcohol or not, “the sophistication comes with how geeky you are with the chocolate and how it’s prepared,” one bartender said.
Even if holiday celebrations will be more subdued than usual, sparkling wine is always a good idea. Our wine critic suggests these three wines, each from a different place and made with different grapes.