More than 2,000 new coronavirus cases in Colorado. More than 6,400 new cases in Illinois. And more than 1,000 new cases in New Mexico.
All record-breaking numbers for those states — and all on a day when the United States as a nation reached two grim new highs. On Thursday, the country recorded at least 90,000 new cases (that’s the equivalent of more than one per second) and crossed the threshold of nine million cases since the start of the pandemic.
Over the past week, new cases in the United States have averaged more than 77,000 a day, and nine states reported daily records on Thursday. More total cases have been identified in the United States than in any other country, although some nations have had more cases in proportion to their populations.
“There is no way to sugarcoat it: We are facing an urgent crisis, and there is an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors,” said Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has been badly hit. More than 200 coronavirus deaths have been announced over the past week, and as case numbers have exploded, hospitals have been under increasing strain.
But it is hardly alone.
The surge that started in the Upper Midwest and rural West has now spread far beyond, sending infection levels soaring in places as disparate as El Paso, Chicago and Rexburg, Idaho.
In the seven-day period ending Thursday, 24 states added more cases than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic.
All of this is taking place against the backdrop of a bitter presidential contest in which the pandemic — and the government’s response to it — is the dominant issue.
Daily reports of deaths from the virus remain far below their spring peaks, averaging around 800 a day, but those, too, have started to tick upward.
There are not many hopeful signs in the recent data.
Reports of new cases are increasing in 42 states. Northeastern states, including New Jersey and Rhode Island, are seeing infection numbers rise after months of stability. And in North Dakota, where more than 5 percent of the population has now tested positive — the biggest share of any state — reports of new cases continue to soar.
When Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany announced the latest round of restrictions on public life, she named bars, restaurants, theaters, concert halls, gyms and tattoo parlors as institutions that would be forced to close. But missing from the list released on Wednesday were schools and day care centers — among the first to be shuttered in the spring lockdown.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron also said on Wednesday that schools would be exempt from wide-reaching nationwide restrictions that are to take effect beginning Friday. Ireland also allowed schools to remain open despite a nationwide lockdown that went into effect earlier this month.
Not everyone is happy with the decisions, but policymakers are taking extra precautions to reduce the risk in schools, from mask requirements for teachers and pupils, to regular airing of classrooms, to split use of schoolyards during breaks. They say they are applying hard-learned lessons from months of fighting the pandemic, and are prepared to change directions if things take a turn for the worse.
Micheal Martin, the Irish prime minister, said that while his country could no longer avoid restrictions, despite the detrimental impact on the economy, it was vital that schools remained open.
“We cannot and will not allow our children and young people’s futures to be another victim of this disease,” Mr. Martin said in a national address. “They need their education.”
Medical experts point to many things they now know that were unknown back in the spring: with proper precautions, the rate of coronavirus transmission in schools is relatively low, especially among the youngest students; children who do get infected tend to have mild symptoms; and measures like mask-wearing, social distancing and air circulation are more effective than they had predicted.
But that does not mean open schools are risk-free. While schools are not known to have been a major source of outbreaks in western Europe and the United States, they were in Israel, when it wasn’t implementing social distancing in schools and relaxed a restriction requiring masks.
Quitting the World Health Organization, as President Trump has pledged to do, could potentially be “ruinous” for the United States in the event of a future pandemic, public health experts say.
Speaking at a forum on the planned U.S. withdrawal, they noted that the W.H.O. plays a critical role as the clearinghouse for advance warnings of disease outbreaks anywhere in the world.
“We’re only one plane flight away from something very bad being transmitted from one country to another,” said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Benjamin spoke at a webinar Thursday on the U.S. withdrawal plan that was sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights.
Instead of pulling the United States out of the organization, the experts argued, whoever takes over in the White House in January should work with other nations to give the W.H.O. greater legal powers to demand that member states divulge everything they know about their outbreaks so that other countries can prepare if they spread.
Mr. Trump has blamed China and the W.H.O. for the spread of Covid-19 in the United States. Most public health experts instead blame him because he played down the disease, and failed to mount a robust federal response.
Because Congress approved the American entry into the W.H.O. in 1948, it may not be possible to withdraw without Congress’ approval, said Lawrence O. Gostin, chair of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law School.
In any case, the United States cannot leave the agency until July, because American law requires that the administration give one year’s notice and pay all back dues owed.
Voters in several swing states are casting their ballots at the same time the coronavirus reaches new peaks in their communities, creating more uncertainty about how they will vote — and for whom.
The pandemic has killed nearly 230,000 people in the United States and upended the nation’s economy. Now it could help decide the presidential election.
Some electoral battlegrounds, like Michigan and North Carolina, are seeing record numbers of new cases and deaths. Hospitals in Wisconsin and other hard-hit areas are reaching capacity, pushing health care providers to the brink and leaving their workers reeling. Other swing states, like Pennsylvania, Florida and Arizona, are experiencing more mild upswings.
“Things are really running rampant, so there is a lot of discontent,” said Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Wisconsin narrowly voted for President Trump in 2016, but the virus may change the outlook for him there.
“I do think it provides more of a challenge for Trump to try and win the state because any news about the pandemic — it’s not good for him,” Dr. Burden said.
Already, the pandemic has complicated the voting process.
Because of concerns the virus would hamper people’s ability to vote, several states have encouraged mail-in voting. About 1.64 million people had returned absentee ballots in Wisconsin as of Thursday, more than half of the total ballots cast in 2016.
In other battleground states like North Carolina, Florida and — this year — Texas, the president could see fading support from Republicans who feel frustrated by what they see as a lackluster federal response to the coronavirus. Those states may also see higher turnout among Democrats who opted to vote by mail for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
“Enthusiasm for turning out for Trump among Trump supporters will wane somewhat, and so it will affect turnout somewhat,” said John Aldrich, a professor of political science at Duke University. “I don’t think it’s going to be a massive thing.”
Still, he said, in places where elections can come down to a few thousand votes, “everything matters.”
The United States reached a milestone, of sorts, when last week the Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment for Covid-19: Veklury, better known by its scientific name, remdesivir.
But the F.D.A.’s decision to grant the drug full approval — which means its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, can begin marketing it broadly to doctors and patients — has puzzled several outside experts. They say that it may not deserve the agency’s stamp of approval because it is, at best, a mediocre treatment for the disease caused by the coronavirus.
One large, government-run trial found that the drug shortens patients’ recovery times, but the two other studies the F.D.A. used to justify its approval — sponsored by Gilead — did not compare the treatments with a placebo, the gold standard for evaluating a drug. No studies have shown that it significantly lowers death rates. And a large study sponsored by the World Health Organization found that remdesivir provided no benefit to hospitalized patients.
Experts have also questioned whether Gilead deserves to pocket potential billions from the drug when the government has played a significant role in its development. On Wednesday, the company said that remdesivir, which has been authorized for emergency use since the spring, had brought in $873 million in revenue so far this year.
“The F.D.A. doesn’t exist to give monetary prizes to drug companies,” said Dr. Peter B. Bach, the director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “The F.D.A. exists to help inform doctors as to what drugs they should give patients in front of them today.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the country’s second-largest system, will probably not bring students back into classrooms until at least January, two members of the Board of Education said on Thursday.
The state requires a county to have no more than seven new daily cases per 100,000 people for two weeks before schools can fully reopen. In Los Angeles County, the daily case number is now about 18, and it has been climbing.
The president of the school board, Richard Vladovic, said that even if infections started declining soon, it would not make sense to reopen schools just as the holidays are about to begin. The news was first reported by The Los Angeles Times.
With the current county case numbers, Los Angeles schools are allowed to bring up to a quarter of students back onto campus, and can seek waivers to bring back all students in prekindergarten through second grade. But the district has not pursued those options.
Katie Braude, chief executive officer of Speak Up, a group that advocates for educational equity, said the district’s hands were tied because it had agreed with the teachers’ union that no teachers would be required to come back in person until schools were reopened for all students. The agreement expires on December 31.
Ms. Braude said the district, which has over 600,000 students, had done a lot of work to make the return to school safe, setting up an ambitious testing system for students and the staff and replacing ventilation systems.
“It’s just kind of ironic that the district has really gone out of its way on that front and they’re still not able to get kids back on campus who really need to be on campus,” she said, adding that “these kids are all losing out, and these are the kids who are already falling behind.”
The vice president of the Board of Education, Jackie Goldberg, said that even January was optimistic.
“It may be February or March,” she said.
And at that point, she said, the question may be whether it is worth starting in-person instruction if many children have to change teachers that late in the year.
The district has said that when it does reopen, it will use a hybrid model, in which students cycle between going to school buildings and learning at home.
Trevor Lawrence, the star quarterback at top-ranked Clemson and a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, has tested positive for coronavirus, the university said Thursday night.
Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney said in a statement that Lawrence was “doing well with mild symptoms” but that he would miss Saturday’s game against Boston College.
Perhaps more crucially for the race toward the College Football Playoff, Swinney did not say when Lawrence had tested positive or when he had developed symptoms — distinctions that could determine whether he would be eligible to play at No. 4 Notre Dame on Nov. 7.
In a post on Twitter late Thursday, Lawrence said that his symptoms had been “relatively mild” and that “the only thing that hurts is missing an opportunity to be with my teammates this weekend and play the game I love.”
Lawrence has been among the most electrifying quarterbacks in college football in recent years. He passed for more than 3,600 yards last season, when he steered Clemson back to the national championship game a year after it had won the title.
And just a few months ago, he was a leading figure in the #WeWantToPlay movement that urged college sports executives to mount a football season during the pandemic.
Last Friday, when Clemson’s athletic department most recently released data about its coronavirus testing, the university in South Carolina said seven of its student-athletes had tested positive over the previous week. Now, given Lawrence’s result, at least 138 Clemson student-athletes have tested positive since June 1.
The Lawrence announcement was the latest development in a turbulent college football season marked by conferences’ shifting their decisions about whether to proceed and the postponement or cancellation of more than three dozen games involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams.
On Wednesday, Wisconsin canceled its game at Nebraska after at least 12 people, including six players and Coach Paul Chryst, tested positive for the virus. (The university said Thursday that three more people associated with the football program had since tested positive, and it remained unclear whether the Badgers’ next game, a Nov. 7 matchup with Purdue, would happen.)