Updated at 11:46 p.m. ET on October 7, 2020.
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To hear the White House tell it, Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis is a case closed. He returned to the grounds yesterday with typical Trumpian fanfare, posing for the cameras from a balcony.
But information about the president's condition—and its severity—remains limited. Our writers explain:
Trump, like Benito Mussolini, knows that images matter. “Those staged pictures are what a lot of people want to see,” Anne Applebaum argues. “Don’t underestimate their power.”
The president’s doctor, Sean Conley, is complicit in this scene-setting. James Hamblin, a staff writer and our resident doctor, writes: “Conley has served as Trump’s publicist in a white coat, reassuring Americans at every turn that Trump is doing well, while leaving out conspicuous details.”
Further reading: Conley comes from a uniquely American brand of medicine. Eleanor Cummins explains what makes osteopathic doctors different.
One question, answered: Is it safe to vote in person?
Russell Berman, a reporter on our politics team, weighs in:
The short answer is, if you’ve felt comfortable going to the grocery store for the past few months, you can feel comfortable voting in person—it’s about the same level of risk. That’s what Zeke Emanuel, the prominent bioethicist, told me last month. He puts voting in the same low-medium risk category as indoor shopping or playing tennis. Wear your mask and keep your distance in line, of course.
Although voting by mail has become much more popular this year, millions of people have voted in person during the pandemic, and Emanuel said that few, if any, large outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to the polls.
28 days remain until the 2020 presidential election.* Here’s today’s essential read:
The election is in danger. Prepare now. Read our citizen’s guide to defending democracy.
Today’s break from the news:
There’s never been a story like Britney Spears’s. Read Spencer Kornhaber on the long-running movement to liberate the pop star—and what such narratives tell us about the relationship between female artists, fame, and fandom.
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* This newsletter previously misstated the number of days remaining until Election Day.