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THE ATLANTIC

On the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, our staff writer Ed Yong wondered how the incoming administration might handle a pandemic. In 2020, America got the answer.

Now, Ed argues, the country faces a choice: Voters are about to decide how bad this pandemic will get.

“If [Trump] is reelected, he will continue on the same path, and so will the coronavirus,” he writes. “More Americans will be sickened, disabled, and killed.”

Meanwhile, America is sleepwalking into an Election Day surge in cases. Last week, Robinson Meyer, who’s closely followed this virus’s trajectory, pointed to three case trends worth keeping an eye on:

1. The rural explosion

After months when viral transmission seemed to dominate cities, the coronavirus has now wheedled its way into rural America.

2. The swing-state surge

Cases and hospitalizations are also rising across some of the Great Lakes and upper-Midwest states that could prove most crucial in the presidential election.

3. A pandemic-fatigue-induced creep of cases

In the Northeast, cases have also recently increased in Massachusetts and Connecticut. … Many of these states, Pennsylvania among them, saw large spikes in the country’s first two waves.

Keep reading Robinson’s analysis.

WIN MCNAMEE / GETTY

6 days remain until the 2020 presidential election. Here’s today’s essential read:

Trump is getting off easy for a series of recent scandals, most likely because press outlets have concluded that he is doomed and that coverage is largely pointless,” our staff writer David A. Graham argues.

Sick of waiting for next Tuesday to arrive?

Here’s our guide to not going crazy the week before an election.

Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty

One question, answered: Is there a safe way to exchange candy this Halloween?

Amanda Mull, who wrote about the difference between feeling safe and being safe, weighs in:

Halloween has a lot going for it: Few people travel or see elderly relatives. Face coverings are common already. Most kids gather treats outdoors, in the company of family members or close friends, and enjoy them at home.

Before you decide whether or how to trick-or-treat, you should evaluate local data about transmission and decide if you’re comfortable doing any nonessential activities. In much of the country, staying home is still the safest choice.

If you decide to trick-or-treat, plan with your neighbors to modify the activity for more safety. People should opt in with a sign or balloon on their home to divert traffic away from nonparticipants’ homes. Everyone who wants to participate should wear a mask. Kids should go out with family members and friends they already see during quarantine.

There are ways to make the candy hand-off itself safer, even though a momentary, well-ventilated, masked interaction is not a high risk for transmission. Leaving a bowl of candy outside is popular even in non-pandemic years. If you want to reduce contact but still see kids in costumes, use your outdoor space, if you have it—put the candy bowl (or, even better, individually packaged baggies of a few pieces of candy each) in the yard or driveway and set up a lawn chair.

“Trunk-or-treating,” in which people gather in a parking lot so that small children can collect candy without traipsing through the streets, is similarly modifiable for distance.

If you live in an apartment building with indoor hallways, the residents could split into shifts to reduce traffic—younger kids first, then older kids—but those scenarios are still riskier than the outdoors.

The candy itself is less of a worry. Infection from touching contaminated surfaces is much less common than infection from breathing in droplets in the air, but go home and wash your hands before you start eating.

For extra caution with newly acquired candy, open it onto a napkin or plate, throw away the wrappers, and wash your hands again before touching it—the same principle you’d use when bringing home groceries or takeout. Even though trick-or-treating isn’t a weekly activity, the practical concerns are the same as the ones you’ve managed during those activities for more than seven months.

Stuck on what to stream? Let us help:

The comedian Sarah Cooper went viral for her Trump impersonations. Her new Netflix special is “darker and more sardonic in tone”—and shows off her unusual comedic taste, Shirley Li writes.

Today’s break from the news:

Are we trading our happiness for modern comforts?


Thanks for reading. This email was written by Caroline Mimbs Nyce.

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