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Trump's positive test ensures the coronavirus will dominate the last weeks of the 2020 campaign

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump return to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Sept. 11, 2020.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — At least 7.3million Americans have had the coronavirus, according to the latest figures. And late last night, we learned two of them were the president of the United States and the first lady.

In a year that’s brought so much chaos, uncertainty and disruption, the disclosure that President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus — 32 days before the election — is the biggest political development yet of 2020.

And while so much remains unclear of this morning, the news almost guarantees that the coronavirus will be the dominant story over the next month.

What happens to Trump’s campaigning and GOTV operation over at least the next two weeks? (Remember, so much of Trump’s campaign and infrastructure is dependent on his in-person rallies.)

What about Joe Biden and his team? (Biden shared the stage with Trump at last week’s debate.)

Do the remaining debates go on, including next week’s vice presidential debate? (NBC’s Amanda Golden reports that Vice President Mike Pence and his wife have tested negative as of this morning.)

What happens to Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination? (The New York Times says that she was at the White House earlier this week.)

What about activity on Capitol Hill? (Will the Supreme Court hearings set for later this month be delayed?)

And the country’s national security?

We already have our October surprise in this election, and it’s just the second day of the month.

And we once again got the important reminder: There’s little controlling this virus.

Tweet of the day

Contact tracing

NBC’s Hallie Jackson and the NBC White House team have produced a non-exhaustive list of some of people President Trump interacted with this week.

Tuesday (debate prep/debate night)

  • Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio
  • National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien
  • Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  • Chief of Staff Mark Meadows
  • Ivanka Trump
  • Jared Kushner
  • Donald Trump Jr.
  • Kimberly Guilfoyle
  • Eric Trump
  • Lara Trump
  • Tiffany Trump
  • Campaign manager Bill Stepien
  • Campaign adviser Jason Miller
  • White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
  • White House aide Dan Scavino
  • White House aide Stephen Miller

Wednesday (Minnesota rally)

  • White House aide Hope Hicks, who has already tested positive
  • Jared Kushner
  • White House adviser Dan Scavino

Thursday (Trump Bedminster fundraiser)

  • White House spokesman Judd Deere
  • White House aide Johnny McEntee

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

7,317,350: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 46,952 more than yesterday morning.)

209,095: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 887 more than yesterday morning.)

104.86 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

500 points: The plunge in Dow futures after President Trump announced that he and his wife have tested positive for coronavirus.

At least 11: The number of Secret Service employees at the agency’s Maryland training facility who tested positive in August.

$2.2 trillion: The amount of a coronavirus relief bill passed in the House yesterday as bipartisan talks continue.

Nearly 20,000: The number of U.S. Amazon employees who have contracted Covid-19.

2020 Vision: Our top Senate takeovers

With a month to go until Election Day, here’s our updated look at the top Senate seats that are most likely to change party this cycle.

The list goes from most likely to least likely to flip, and in parenthesis is the current party holding the seat, as well as the race’s previous ranking from August).

  1. Alabama (D – was #1 in Aug)
  2. Colorado (R – was #2 in Aug)
  3. Arizona (R – was #3 in Aug)
  4. Maine (R – was #5 in Aug)
  5. North Carolina (R – was #4 in Aug)
  6. Iowa (R – was #7 in Aug)
  7. Georgia/Perdue (R – was #8 in Aug)
  8. Montana (R – was #6 in Aug)
  9. South Carolina (R – was #13 in Aug)
  10. Georgia/Loeffler (R – was #10 in Aug)
  11. (tie) Kansas (R – was #12 in Aug)
  12. (tie) Michigan (D – was #11 in Aug)
  13. Alaska (R – was #14 in Aug)
  14. Texas (R – was #9 in Aug)
  15. Mississippi (R – wasn’t listed in Aug)
  16. New Mexico (D – was #16 in Aug)
  17. Minnesota (D – wasn’t listed in Aug)
  18. Kentucky (R – was #15 in Aug)

Of the Top 10 races on the list, nine are Democratic pick-up opportunities, while just one is a GOP pick-up opportunity.

To win back the Senate, Democrats to need a net gain of three seats if they win the White House, and four if they don’t.

Here’s another way to look at our list:

  • The lean/likely flips: Alabama, Colorado, Arizona, Maine
  • The tossups: North Carolina, Iowa, Georgia (1), Montana, South Carolina, Georgia (2)
  • The lean holds: Kansas, Michigan, Alaska, Texas
  • The likely holds: Mississippi, New Mexico, Minnesota, Kentucky

Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar

Today’s Ad Watch heads back to Montana’s Senate race, where we’re seeing how Senate Republicans are dealing with one of their biggest potential vulnerabilities — health care.

Many of the Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 ran on the idea of repealing and replacing ObamaCare. But those attempts have failed, and now Democrats are hammering Republicans in states like Montana with health care as a campaign issue.

It’s amid that backdrop Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ new ad tries to push back on those attacks, arguing he’s tried to vote to “fix the ObamaCare mess” and that he’s “fought to protect Montanans with pre-existing conditions.”

But while Daines has said he supports keeping those protections, he also voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in 2013. And the 2017 repeal-and-replace measure allowed for exemptions to some pre-existing conditions protections.

Daines also didn’t join some vulnerable GOP senators Thursday who broke with their party vote for a measure calling to block the administration’s anti-ObamaCare lawsuit (although he did vote Wednesday for a measure calling to keep some pre-existing condition protections if the law was axed).

The Lid: (M)ad money

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at the Biden campaign’s big spending on the TV airwaves.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered counties to stop accepting hand-delivered absentee ballots at more than one location, prompting accusations of voter suppression.

Amy Coney Barrett failed to disclose to the Senate her participation in a 2006 ad that called for repeal of Roe v. Wade.

Some GOP senators are breaking with the administration over their ACA lawsuit.

Conservative political operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman have been charged with felonies for misleading voter robocalls.

The president is again slashing the number of new refugee admissions to the United States.