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Covid-19 cases, deaths rising rapidly ahead of Election Day

In other coronavirus news: All but two states have some kind of mask mandate, Belgium is Europe's hot spot, and Mexico mourns health workers during Day of the Dead holiday.
Image: Cars Line Up For Covid Testing In Milwaukee, As Cases Spike In The State
People line up at a mobile Covid-19 test center staffed by members of the Wisconsin National Guard on the grounds of Miller Park in Milwaukee on Thursday.Scott Olson / Getty Images

On the eve of an election that has become for many Americans a referendum on President Donald Trump's pandemic performance, Covid-19 case numbers were rising rapidly in virtually every state as the death toll continued to climb, the latest NBC News figures showed Monday.

Nearly 9.3 million cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic, and more than 232,000 people have died, both world-leading tallies, the numbers revealed.

In the last two weeks, records for the daily number of new cases have been set and shattered on successive days, most recently Friday, when 98,500 infections were reported.

During the same period, case numbers rose by 25 percent in 40 states, with some of the biggest increases coming in key battleground states, such as Michigan (115 percent) and Wisconsin (88 percent), the NBC News analysis showed.

Hotly contested Pennsylvania has reported more than 2,000 coronavirus cases for six straight days, something that hasn't happened before.

Tiny Rhode Island, which had previously been able to flatten the curve, reported a 221 percent spike in cases. And Massachusetts on Monday imposed an overnight curfew scheduled to start Friday after it reported more than 1,000 new infections for nine straight days.

The only states where coronavirus case numbers declined during the two-week period were Louisiana and Hawaii, along with the Northern Mariana Islands.

Overall, Covid-19 deaths were up by 15 percent in the last two weeks, the figures showed.

"We're right at the beginning of what looks like exponential growth in a lot of states," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation." "This is very worrisome as we head into the winter."

In other coronavirus news:

  • Forty-eight states now have full or partial mask mandates, including states led by Republican governors who were slow to impose such restrictions, like Arkansas. The only two that don't are North and South Dakota, the latter of which is led by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who claimed that numbers showing that her state was the site of a "super-spreader" motorcycle rally in August were "made up."
  • A 13-year-old boy from Missouri died over the weekend from Covid-19 complications. The boy, Peyton Baumgarth, is the first person under age 18 to have died in the state from the virus.
  • Utah health officials were bracing for a spate of new cases after thousands of people attended a ravelike Halloween event that was advertised as a "protest" against coronavirus restrictions.
  • Europe was being hit by a second wave of Covid-19 infections, and Belgium had the highest rate of infections on the continent.
  • Mexico, one of the hardest-hit countries in the world, honored and mourned the more than 1,700 health care workers known to have died during the pandemic during the national Day of the Dead commemorations.
  • Prince William, who is second in line to the British throne, tested positive for the coronavirus in April, British media have reported.

The U.S. accounts for about a fifth of the world's nearly 47 million confirmed coronavirus cases and about a fifth of the Covid-19 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 dashboard.

Down in the polls and claiming to be completely recovered from his bout with Covid-19, Trump continued to downplay the danger at rallies where many supporters didn't wear masks or try to practice social distancing.

Trump also took fresh aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading expert on infectious diseases, who survived more than one White House attempt to discredit him after he poured cold water on Trump's false claims that the pandemic would "just disappear."

When the crowd in Opa-Locka, Florida, began chanting "Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!" Trump waited a beat before saying: "Don't tell anybody, but let me wait until a little after the election. I appreciate the advice."

Fauci's latest offense? He said the country wasn't prepared for the next few months of the pandemic.

"We're in for a whole lot of hurt," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post. "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."

Covid-19 was first reported in December in Wuhan, China, and it showed up in the U.S. a month later.

On Jan. 31, Trump imposed a ban on travel from China, which exempted U.S. citizens and others. He resisted calls for stronger action, calling the demands a new "Democratic Party hoax" aimed at derailing his presidency.

Privately, Trump admitted in taped interviews with the reporter Bob Woodward that Covid-19 was "deadly stuff" but that he wanted to "play it down."

It wasn't until March that Trump declared it a national emergency.

After that, Trump became what critics have called the world's biggest super-spreader of Covid-19 misinformation — promoting unproven "miracle cures," such as bleach and hydroxychloroquine — endangered Americans by politicizing the use of masks and downplayed the danger while regularly claiming that his administration had done a "phenomenal job."

Trump also pressured the governors of Southern and Western states to reopen just as Covid-19 was spreading to those areas. The bulk of cases and deaths in key states like Florida, Texas and Arizona were reported after their governors loosened restrictions.

Even after Trump caught the virus and it rapidly spread through the White House — to infect his wife, Melania Trump, their son, Barron, and others — he refused to consistently wear a mask at public events. He also boasted about being immune and displayed what critics called a cavalier attitude that infuriated the loved ones of Covid-19 victims.

That hurt Trump in the polls. About 57 percent of Americans said they disapproved of the way he handled the coronavirus crisis in the final national NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of the presidential election, which was released Sunday.

CORRECTION (Nov. 2, 2020, 6:45 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the proportion of U.S. cases of the coronavirus among the world total. The U.S. accounts for about a fifth of all worldwide cases, not more than a quarter.