Meanwhile, in the Pandemic

It's getting worse, not better.

While we’re all understandably focused on the election returns, the US is continuing to set new records for COVID-19 cases. Indeed, we’re nearing our 10 millionth.

NBC News (“Covid-19 cases break record for second day in a row, topping 120,000“):

A record number of coronavirus cases were reported Thursday, breaking a record set Wednesday of more than 100,000 cases in a single day.

A total of 120,048 people tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, nearly 16,000 more than on Wednesday, according to an NBC News tally.

The United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world. More than 236,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the U.S., according to NBC News data.

Hospitalization and case counts have surged across much of the country, with the Midwest and the Southwest getting hit the hardest. Doctors and officials have warned people that hospitals could quickly become overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients.

Wisconsin had one of the largest single-day increases in the country Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The urge to rope the election results back in was, apparently, irresistable:

“While the state and country turned its eyes to the presidential election, Wisconsin had another record-setting day for Covid-19 cases, with 5,935 Wisconsinites testing positive on Wednesday,” Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday in his Democratic radio address.

“Folks, this pandemic isn’t happening some place else or to somebody else,” he said. “Wisconsinites in every corner of our state know firsthand the tragedy and loss of this virus.”

The virus continues to spread in other key battleground states in the election. Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina each recorded more than 2,000 cases in a single day.

While we’re at it, AP (“Counties with worst virus surges overwhelmingly voted Trump“) reports:

U.S. voters went to the polls starkly divided on how they see President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. But in places where the virus is most rampant now, Trump enjoyed enormous support.

An Associated Press analysis reveals that in 376 counties with the highest number of new cases per capita, the overwhelming majority — 93% of those counties — went for Trump, a rate above other less severely hit areas.

Most were rural counties in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Wisconsin — the kinds of areas that often have lower rates of adherence to social distancing, mask-wearing and other public health measures, and have been a focal point for much of the latest surge in cases.

Taking note of the contrast, state health officials are pausing for a moment of introspection. Even as they worry about rising numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, they hope to reframe their messages and aim for a reset on public sentiment now that the election is over.

“Public health officials need to step back, listen to and understand the people who aren’t taking the same stance” on mask-wearing and other control measures, said Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

“I think there’s the potential for things to get less charged and divisive,” he said, adding that there’s a chance a retooled public health message might unify Americans around lowering case counts so hospitals won’t get swamped during the winter months.

To the extent there’s a Cult of PersonalityTM surrounding Trump, one would think his officially becoming a loser would help end it. Still, he’s in charge of the Executive branch until noon on January 20. That’s a long time with a pandemic running rampant.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Teve says:

    Whatever Biden could do, Europe shows us we’re screwed asa a species

  2. Scott says:

    Texas will pass the 1M mark today. About 4% of the population. If herd immunity is the Trump goal, then it will be a while we get to 50-60%.

    Right now, in San Antonio, our cases are rising but pretty slowly. People are being careful, as far as I can see.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Butbutbutbut trump said it would go away after the election.

  4. charon says:

    A thread:

    (This is Iowa, other states are worse, plus remember hospitalizations lag cases and deaths lag hospitalizations).

    Hospitals are full. Don’t look at “beds” available on websites. Hospitals are already running at >100% capacity. Healthcare workers are burning out. If all we needed were beds, we could just put people into hotels.

    I really like this site:

    It initializes “by Congressional district,” but one can click buttons for “by state” or “by counties.”

    Hover cursor on a state to get detailed history and data for that state.

  5. charon says:

    Farther to the survey analysis above in Joyner’s post:

    Among Trump supporters, 36 percent said the pandemic is completely or mostly under control, while 47 percent believed it was somewhat under control, according to AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 110,000 voters.

    Meanwhile, 82 percent of Biden backers surveyed said the pandemic is not at all under control.

  6. charon says:



    Behavior has consequences.

    Hoo cudda node?

    This is why it was crucially important to rescind Trump’s leadership and influence.

  7. DrDaveT says:


    Texas will pass the 1M mark today. About 4% of the population. If herd immunity is the Trump goal, then it will be a while we get to 50-60%.

    My wife found a remarkably prescient article in Smithsonian Magazine from November 2017, about the 1918 influenza pandemic. Something I hadn’t realized is that even in that, the worst pandemic of the modern age, fewer than 26 million Americans were infected. Way below the “herd immunity” threshold. People just have no idea how horrible it would be to achieve herd immunity to COVID, if such a thing is even possible.

  8. Kathy says:

    While we’re at it, AP (“Counties with worst virus surges overwhelmingly voted Trump“) reports:

    I officially declare these areas to comprise the new nation of Dumbfuckistan.

  9. CSK says:

    And they still think Covid is a big nothing, right?

  10. Long Time Listener says:

    The ‘visuals’ of the 2021 Presidential Swearing In Ceremony, in January (distancing? masks?) will be quite interesting, for future historians. Do we do the normal large gathering at the Capitol Building? Small gathering at the White House, or Capitol Rotunda? I would figure that the actual Oath of Office would be completed unmasked, in order to keep the conspiracy theorists quiet (good luck).

    As a historian, one’s mind races….

  11. Kathy says:

    @Long Time Listener:

    I don’t suppose the public can be kept from attending, but ti can be limited. The Parks Service ought to advertise widely only so many people will be allowed in, and issue free tickets, one per attendee, to enforce this. Masks, I expect, will be mandatory, as will distancing.

    And Donnie the one-term loser, I expect, will crow about how small Biden’s crowd is.

  12. Kathy says:


    Whatever Biden could do, Europe shows us we’re screwed asa a species

    Not really. See the successes in Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and others in containing the spread, most of them early on. This means we, as a species, know how to do this, we just need the will to implement it.

    Taiwan and South Korea, as far as I can tell, relied on early testing and contact tracing, with, crucially, effective isolation of those infected and those exposed. This breaks the chains of transmission and stops the virus cold. It’s not all they did, but what helped most.

    It seems, too, they did this even before we knew there was asymptomatic transmission, and even before the high likelihood of contagion through personal contact was fully realized. This is what I mean that one must act preemptively against such pathogens, rather than reactively.

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT:Certainly true, but when people are talking about “herd immunity,” they’re thinking measles–which by the time we got to our present day view of it, had been on the face of the earth for a millennium or three (maybe 4, I didn’t look it up).

    In stardate 4771.32, it’s possible that some idiot-stick planetary leader elected by a society too stupid to be allowed to vote will be citing Covid-19 for the example to let the latest pandemic “run its course.”

  14. Kingdaddy says:

    I’m definitely tailoring my behavior to better manage the risk. Aside from making fewer shopping visits, I’m now thinking about a temporary moratorium on visiting with other family members. They have more exposure than I do, based on kids being in school. Damn it.

  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I can’t speak for Vietnam, but Korea is a nation that has a relatively significant track record for acting swiftly and decisively on infectious diseases. I remember several instances of reports where a single bird on a farm showed symptoms of some illness that resulted in all the birds (usually chickens) being quarantined on all the farms in the 5 or 6 closest populated areas near the affected farm. Those chickens were subsequently destroyed and the farmers compensated for their losses. The largest flock quarantine/destruction involved a quarter million chickens, IIRC.

    Koreans know how to do quarantine and are very assertive about it. Additionally, the population supports the government to a degree much larger than I suspect we would here.