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Infecting young, healthy people with COVID-19 is an important, but controversial, part of creating a viable vaccine.

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As coronavirus cases once again surge around the country, the nation’s schools are also entering a new phase of reopening as some of the largest districts return for in-person instruction.

Most of the largest school districts have some form of in-person learning now, increasing since September when only two did.

Meanwhile, at a campaign rally in Florida on Sunday, President Donald Trump suggested he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after the election. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said as his supporters chanted “Fire Fauci.”

Eighteen states set records for new cases in a week and, in the week ending Sunday, the U.S. set a record of new coronavirus cases reported for the week at 569,350 new cases, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.

Five states also reported a record number of deaths in a week: Alaska, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 9.2 million cases and 231,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: 46.6 million cases and 1.2 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

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Early voting numbers shatter records as COVID-19 surges in Midwestern battleground states

More than 93 million Americans have cast their ballots in early voting, shattering previous records. The number represents about 68% of all the ballots cast in 2016. 

Democratic voters accounted for 48.3% of all early votes cast, and Republicans accounted for 41.5%, according to TargetSmart, a Democratic elections data firm that combines party information from states and its own modeling. Voters with no party affiliation made up 10.2% of early voters. 

The spread of the COVID-19 virus is surging in several Midwest battleground states – Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan – where President Donald Trump needs Republican voters to flock to the polls on Election Day.

Former Vice President Joe Biden maintains a 52%-44% lead over Trump nationally, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released last week. Of the 33% of voters who say they plan to vote on Election Day, 48% are Republicans and 20% are Democrats.

Trump hints at firing Fauci after election

President Donald Trump hinted that he might fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after the election, telling a raucous rally in Florida that the infectious disease expert got much wrong about the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump was responding to the crowd in Opa-locka, Florida, which began chanting “Fire Fauci” shortly after the president took the stage for the final of five rallies on Sunday night.

“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said in response to the crowd.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, drew renewed criticism from Trump and White House aides following a weekend interview in the Washington Post in which he criticized Trump’s assertion that the nation is “rounding the turn” on COVID-19 despite a surge in cases and hospitalizations.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci told The Post. “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.”

– John Fritze and Courtney Subramanian

Students in many of largest US school systems are back in class amid surge

The U.S. has entered a second round of back-to-school, just as the coronavirus surges around the nation. In smaller school districts, careful in-person reopenings in August and September didn’t lead to an explosion of COVID-19 cases. And now, the country’s largest school systems, which had largely eschewed in-person instruction, are venturing partially back into the classroom.

The majority of the 15 largest districts in the nation now have at least some students in school buildings. Only two of those districts had any form of in-person learning as of early September. 

Large schools had faced bigger hurdles than smaller ones as they waited out case spikes in major cities and concerns grew about possible outbreaks in school buildings. Now, as several major districts have decided to try to meet in person, rising COVID-19 cases again threaten their efforts. 

“Any district that hasn’t already introduced in-person learning is facing serious headwinds” to doing so anytime soon, said Dennis Roche, president of Burbio, an organization that’s tracking school calendars and reopening plans nationwide.

– Elinor Aspegren and Erin Richards

Colorado State University uses poop, pooled spit to seek proof of COVID-19

Emerging research suggests infected people start shedding the coronavirus in their poop early in their infection, and possibly days before they begin shedding it from their mouths and noses.

In normal times, Colorado State University molecular biologist Carol Wilusz studies stem cells and muscular dystrophy. Now, her team is on the front lines of defense against the massive COVID-19 outbreaks that, for a campus with more than 23,000 undergraduates alone, always seem to be lurking around the corner. The sewage review is part of a multipronged attack that includes the usual weapon of contact tracing plus a specialized “paired pooling” form of testing saliva samples. So far, the school has had about 500 cases since the semester started.

– Rae Ellen Bichell, Kaiser Health News

Traveling to New York? You will first need to take a COVID-19 test

New York is scrapping its weekly list of states from where visitors had to quarantine and instead implementing a new COVID-19 testing system for all travelers outside contiguous states.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the change Saturday, saying a rigorous testing standard is a better way to control the virus’ spread in New York.

Almost all states were on the state’s 14-day quarantine list, making its weekly metrics to determine who met the criteria a fluid system. Even New York itself was trending toward making its own list on Tuesday, when it was next due to be updated.

“Given the changing facts, we’re coming up with a new program,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters. “And all the experts suggest we shift to a testing system, and that’s what we are going to do.”

– Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell, New York State Team

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COVID-19 widespread testing is crucial to fighting the pandemic, but is there enough testing? The answer is in the positivity rates.

USA TODAY

WHO chief self-quarantines after possible exposure to COVID-19

The chief of the World Health Organization said Sunday he is self-quarantining after being in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

In a tweet, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “without symptoms.”

“I have been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for #COVID19. I am well and without symptoms but will self-quarantine over the coming days, in line with @WHO protocols, and work from home,” Tedros said on Twitter.

Tedros’ tweet came the same day as authorities in Geneva, where the U.N. health agency is based, announced a tightening of restrictions aimed to curb the spread of the virus. A recent spike has more than 1,000 new cases recorded each day recently in an area of about 500,000 people.

Turkish politician in President Tayyip Erdogan’s party dies from coronavirus

A Turkish politician from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party died Sunday from the coronavirus.

Burhan Kuzu, 65, had been receiving treatment for COVID-19 since Oct. 17, the country’s health minister tweeted. A constitutional lawyer and a founding member of the governing Justice and Development Party, Kuzu served in parliament four times.

Two senior officials close to Turkey’s leader — presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu — tweeted on Saturday that they had contracted COVID-19. Both said they were doing well. Soylu was in a hospital.

Britain joins lockdown parade with France, Germany, Belgium, Greece

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans for a four-week national lockdown in England starting this week that will shut pubs, restaurants, entertainment facilities and nonessential businesses.

Schools, universities and manufacturing facilities will remain open during the period from Thursday until Dec. 2. France, Germany, Belgium and Greece have become the latest countries to announce second lockdowns, while Spain and Italy are among European nations increasing restrictions in recent days.

“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day,” Johnson said.

Johnson said people will only be allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons such as medical appointments, shopping for essentials, education and work that cannot be done from their residence. Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, told reporters at a news conference that England is experiencing 50,000 new cases daily and that the figure is rising.

COVID-19 resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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