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Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today


The United States is reeling as infections and hospitalizations soar to all-time highs. Outbreaks are emerging from coast to coast.

Which place is the worst off?

Our reporters Mitch Smith and Amy Harmon dug into the data and found lots of places that would qualify — depending on the metrics.

The metro area with the most recent cases per capita: Minot, N.D.

North Dakota has the most total cases per capita and the most recent cases per capita, and the Minot area, known for its Air Force base, is doing worse than anywhere else.

The county with the most known cases: Los Angeles County, Calif.

More than 325,000 cases have been identified in Los Angeles County over the course of the pandemic, more than in 44 states — but this figure can be a bit misleading. On a per-capita basis, Los Angeles County has far fewer cases than many other counties in California and elsewhere.

The state with the highest hospitalization rate: South Dakota.

About 54 of every 100,000 South Dakotans are hospitalized with Covid-19. The testing positivity rate remains sky-high, and there are few signs of progress. On Tuesday, Mayor Paul TenHaken of Sioux Falls cast the tiebreaking vote to strike down a citywide mask mandate, which he has called “simply unenforceable.”

The biggest cluster: Avenal State Prison, Calif.

In the U.S., more than 30 correctional facilities have reported more than 1,000 cases each, but none have more than Avenal State Prison, in the San Joaquin Valley. It has logged more than 3,300 known cases among prisoners and correctional officers.

The state that has unraveled the fastest: Wisconsin.

At the beginning of September, Wisconsin averaged about 700 cases a day. This week, it’s averaging more than 6,000. Hospitals are packed, positivity rates remain high, and testing supplies are strained. More than 300 deaths were reported in the state over the past week, a record.

The big city with the worst death toll: New York City.

More than 24,000 New Yorkers, or one in every 351 city residents, have died from the virus. Still, some rural counties in other parts of the country may have higher death rates.


The nation’s largest school system is on the precipice of closing thousands of schools.

New York City, once the global epicenter of the pandemic, now has far lower rates of community infection than most of the country, but the numbers are quickly climbing. On Thursday, the seven-day test positivity rate rose to 2.6 percent. If that number hits 3 percent, schools are supposed to close.

For many of the approximately 300,000 families who have cobbled together ways to send their kids to classrooms for a few days a week in this fractured school year, the reversal is a gut punch.

Particularly maddening is that restaurants, bars and gyms — indoor spaces which have been shown to be primary vectors of coronavirus infection — remain open, albeit with some restrictions.

New York City’s schools have recorded a much smaller number of infections. A recent positive-test rate was just 0.17 percent, prompting one of the city’s top health officials to declare that public schools are among the safest public places around.

Many countries in Western Europe have chosen to keep classrooms open and to place restrictions on bars and restaurants instead, a contrast that has not gone without notice.

“That N.Y.C.’s public schools may have to shut down because the city and state felt they just had to let people dine indoors and work out at a gym says all we need to know about how much our society values public education, particularly when it comes to low-income Black & brown kids,” our colleague Nikole Hannah-Jones said on Twitter.

Other major American cities with climbing cases have already delayed returns or walked back reopening plans for public schools. On Thursday, Detroit announced it would stop all in-person learning. This week, cities including Minneapolis and Philadelphia delayed planned returns. In late October, Boston pulled its few in-person students. And almost all public school students in Los Angeles; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco are also learning remotely.

It’s been a tough year for parents. Schools have closed and reopened, only to close again. Parents have scrambled to find child care while struggling to do their jobs and navigate remote learning. But there have been joyous moments, too.

The Times spoke to mothers and fathers across the county about what parenting has been like in the pandemic. Here are a few of their stories.


  • New Zealand, which eliminated community spread of the virus, discovered a mysterious new case that officials think may have been transmitted within the country, Radio New Zealand reports.

  • In Italy, which is facing a surge in cases, a video of a man who died in the bathroom of an emergency room in Naples from what might have been Covid has sparked outrage across the country.

  • As cases continue to grow in most of Canada, the western province of Manitoba implemented sweeping restrictions that closed most stores other than grocers and pharmacies, along with sports fields and playgrounds, bars, movie houses and theaters.

Here’s a roundup of restrictions in all 50 states.



I have eight roommates in my house, off of Ohio State University’s campus. It has been very helpful to have a community while trying to social distance. People are shocked when I tell them I live with so many people, but I would never have it any other way. Some things we do to keep busy: shave our heads, become Ping-Pong masters, fix old go karts and race in empty parking lots, and work toward becoming master carpenters. This year has been a rough one, but having people to do it with made it extremely fun.

— Andy Vasulka, Columbus, Ohio

Let us know how you’re dealing with the pandemic. Send us a response here, and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Sign up here to get the briefing by email.


Adam Pasick contributed to today’s briefing.

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