While deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are mounting rapidly, public health experts are seeing a flicker of good news: The second surge of confirmed cases appears to be leveling off.
Scientists aren’t celebrating by any means, warning that the trend is driven by four big, hard-hit places — Arizona, California, Florida and Texas — and that cases are rising in close to 30 states in all, with the outbreak's center of gravity seemingly shifting from the Sun Belt toward the Midwest.
Some experts wonder whether the apparent caseload improvements will endure. It's also not clear when deaths will start coming down. COVID-19 deaths do not move in perfect lock-step with the infection curve, for the simple reason that it can take weeks to get sick and die from the virus.
Meanwhile, a deadlocked Senate on Thursday left Washington for the weekend without extending a $600-per-week expanded jobless benefit that has helped keep both families and the economy afloat as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the country.
Friday's expiration of the $600 jobless benefit sent Republicans controlling the Senate scrambling to respond. Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell made a procedural move to make it easier to reach a potential compromise next week that would extend the bonus unemployment benefit while talks on a broader COVID-19 relief measure grind on. But ahead of late-night talks at the Capitol, the outlook dimmed.
"I’m not very optimistic that we will have any kind of an agreement on a comprehensive bill in the near future,” said White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. He said he even doubted a deal could be struck next week.
Here's an update on all developments. Scroll or swipe further for in-depth coverage.
- President Donald Trump, lagging in the polls and grappling with deepening economic and public health crises, on Thursday floated the startling idea of delaying the Nov. 3 presidential election. The notion drew immediate pushback from Democrats and Republicans alike in a nation that has held itself up as a beacon to the world for its history of peaceful transfer of power.
- More than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, further evidence of the devastation the coronavirus outbreak has unleashed on the U.S. economy.
- The U.S. economy shrank at a dizzying 32.9% annual rate in the April-June quarter — by far the worst quarterly plunge ever — when the viral outbreak shut down businesses, throwing tens of millions out of work and sending unemployment surging to 14.7%, the government said Thursday.
- The Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency this week hosted a three-day tabletop exercise aimed at helping local, state and federal officials prepare for and respond to worst-case scenarios on Election Day.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are under increasing pressure from lawmakers to boost testing for the coronavirus in the Capitol, an idea they have so far rejected because of concerns about the availability of tests across the country.
- Herman Cain, former Republican presidential candidate and former CEO of a major pizza chain who went on to become an ardent supporter of Trump, has died of complications from the coronavirus. He was 74.
- Trump on Thursday visited the headquarters of the American Red Cross’s to encourage survivors of COVID-19 to donate plasma. Thousands of coronavirus patients have donated their plasma in hopes it could help other patients recover from the coronavirus, and scientists are testing if the donations might also prevent infection in the first place.
- Tyson Foods says it plans to administer thousands of coronavirus tests per week at its U.S. facilities under an expanded effort to protect workers and keep plants running.
- Two residents of the Florida Keys have been jailed for failing to quarantine after testing positive for the new coronavirus.
- Scientists at Imperial College London say they are immunizing hundreds of people with an experimental coronavirus vaccine in an early trial after seeing no worrying safety problems in a small number vaccinated so far.
- The powerhouse Southeastern Conference announced Thursday that it will play only league games in 2020, a pandemic-forced decision that pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths.
- Major League Baseball has postponed this weekend's scheduled series between Toronto and Philadelphia because of concerns about the coronavirus after two Phillies staffers tested positive. The MLB season started a week ago.
For more summaries and full reports, please select from the articles below. Scroll further for the latest virus numbers.