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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. The U.S. passed nine million coronavirus cases, with no end in sight to the surge.
Twenty-one states added more cases in the seven-day period ending Wednesday than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic. In total, the U.S. has identified more cases than any other country and has one of the world’s highest per capita infection rates. Above, a hospital in El Paso.
“We have pandemic fatigue, everybody’s sick of this, right?” said an epidemiologist in Texas. “But you know what, the virus doesn’t care.”
Over the past week, a string of prominent public health experts — notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former F.D.A. commissioner under President Trump — have said it is time to seriously consider a national mask mandate.
2. U.S. economic output increased at the fastest pace on record last quarter — with major caveats.
Gross domestic product grew 7.4 percent in the third quarter, a 33.1 percent annual rate and the biggest gain ever, fueled in part by trillions of dollars in federal assistance to households and businesses.
But the economy in the quarter was also 3.5 percent smaller than at the end of 2019, before the pandemic, meaning economic output is about two-thirds of the way back to where it was. Think of it this way, our Upshot reporter writes: The American economy was hit by a bus. It’s healing, but slowly.
3. In the waning days of the campaign, the president has hailed the economy’s growth spurt as evidence that it has roared back to life. He is also making the case — against all evidence — that the country is “rounding the corner” in the pandemic.
Mr. Trump’s determination to brush aside the crisis has become the defining choice of his bid for a second term, our politics reporter writes, and represents the core of his message throughout the campaign’s endgame.
Joe Biden has sought advice across the Democratic Party’s ideological spectrum, but his core advisers on the virus, economics, foreign policy and climate change are familiar figures. Here’s who has Mr. Biden’s ear.
4. The two candidates converged on Tampa, Fla., just hours apart.
Their dueling events underscore just how close their campaigns think the Florida vote could be on Tuesday — and how essential it is to their prospects. With a narrow path to re-election, Mr. Trump cannot afford to lose Florida’s 29 electoral votes. Polls show Mr. Biden with a slight advantage.
We took a closer look at a few other swing states:
Texas, which no Democrat has carried since 1976, is now a true battleground. But both campaigns are reluctant to spend precious remaining time and money there.
Mr. Trump and his campaign are pursuing a three-pronged strategy that would effectively suppress voting in Pennsylvania: moving to stop the processing of absentee votes before Election Day, pushing to limit how late mail-in ballots can be accepted and intimidating those trying to vote early.
Our poll shows Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump by three points in North Carolina, where 64 percent of likely voters say they have already voted. The Democratic challenger in the Senate race there also holds a slim lead.
5. Three people were killed in a knife assault at a church in Nice, France, in what President Emmanuel Macron called an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
The assault was quickly followed by similar attempts in France, and one near a French consulate in Saudi Arabia, though it was unclear if they were coordinated. France was put on its highest terrorism alert, with heightened security at places of worship.
Since a schoolteacher was beheaded by a Muslim extremist two weeks ago north of Paris, the authorities have conducted dozens of raids, proposed banning several Muslim groups they consider extremist and even suggested that ethnic food aisles in groceries be eliminated.
The measures have found widespread support in a nation traumatized by Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks, while unnerving many of France’s nearly six million Muslims, almost all of whom condemn violence.
6. Hurricane Zeta has left about two million people without power across the South. Above, cleanup in New Orleans.
The storm shredded homes and businesses, making landfall on the Louisiana coast as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday. Then it plowed through Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas and Mississippi. At least three people died.
As it moved northeast, Zeta weakened into a tropical storm, and then a post-tropical cyclone with 50 mile per hour winds. Here’s the latest.
7. The Court of Master Sommeliers confers the highest honors in the wine world. But many women who’ve joined it for mentorship and equal opportunity say they’ve paid a steep price.
Twenty-one women told The Times that they had been sexually harassed, manipulated or assaulted by male master sommeliers. They and other current and former members say the abuse is a continuing problem of which its leadership has long been aware.
One master sommelier, according to these accounts, propositioned at least 15 candidates, sometimes promising professional favors in return for sex.
The American chapter of the group has designated only 155 people masters. Only 24 are women.
8. The image of a scream is among our most universal and elemental. But translating that into sound on film involves more than a microphone on set.
Screams in movies and TV are often created by doubles and voice actors, with specialists standing by to ghoul them up. The process can be physically taxing and emotionally draining. We talked to sound designers, actors, voice artists and directors about what it takes to make the perfect bloodcurdling shriek. (You might want to put your headphones on.)
The voice actor Susan Boyajian, above, says there are “gradual screams, a buildup scream, kind of hyperventilating — say someone’s chasing you with a knife, and then you go into a scream.”
Why do so many of us respond so viscerally to snakes, spiders and things in the “creepy crawly” category? It might be in our genes.
9. Consider a staycation.
City hotels and tourist organizations have made a full-court press to attract local and nearby leisure travelers with low rates and extra perks. Our Travel desk developed a guide to playing tourist in six major American cities — Chicago, Los Angeles, above, Miami, New York, Phoenix and Seattle — complete with restrictions, things to do and how to plan ahead.
10. And finally, taste is for suckers. At least for the octopus.
Scientists have known for years that the creatures can taste what their arms touch. Now, a team of Harvard biologists has figured out why: The cells of their suckers are covered with tiny detector proteins that respond to chemical cues to help them determine whether an object is useless, dangerous or makes for a good snack.
So being an octopus, according to the study’s lead author, might be roughly akin to exploring the world with eight giant, sucker-studded tongues. Or not. “We just don’t know,” she said.
Have a discerning night.
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