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Opinion: Oh, you think the national nightmare is over? Tell that to the coronavirus

A crowd of about 1,000 Trump supporters gather outside the Maricopa county elections building Friday to protest the results
A crowd of about 1,000 Trump supporters gather Friday outside the Maricopa County elections building to protest the results in Phoenix.
(Los Angeles Times)

I know that many of you are feeling hopeful right now, what with former Vice President Joe Biden on the brink of winning the presidential election. This prolonged national nightmare seems to be over, though the PTSD may linger for a while yet.

So it brings me no pleasure to report that our other national nightmare — the COVID-19 pandemic — is far from over and moving into a terrifying third act.

While the nation’s attention was consumed by the unfolding drama of vote-counting in a handful of states and the spectacle of a U.S. president becoming more unhinged and despotic-sounding as the days wore on, COVID-19 cases hit record highs.

The U.S. is now logging more than 120,000 new cases per day, up 20% just this week. The Midwest and rural mountain states have been particularly hard hit, although California and many other states are seeing their numbers tick up.

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Hospitalizations have risen, too, as they do, with more than 52,000 nationwide this week. Hospitals across the country are reporting a heavy influx of new COVID-19 patients, and some are calling for help. The U.S. Department of Defense has deployed three U.S. Air Force medical specialty teams to assist hospitals in El Paso, Texas, with COVID-19 patients.

And though healthcare providers have gotten much better at keeping people with COVID-19 alive, deaths rose 8% over last week.

God help all the mask-less people, and their families back home, clustering outside election headquarters in places like Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania, shouting demands that ballots be counted — or not counted, if it’s a state in which President Trump maintains a lead.

The pandemic is bound to get worse in the U.S. in the coming weeks, given our collective distraction and the reluctance of the president to take appropriate measures, such as investing in robust testing programs or calling for universal mask rules and other infection control measures. (And he’s surprised he didn’t win in a landslide?)

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Europe has been a few weeks ahead of the U.S. when it comes to this latest surge, and things are grim as countries shut down again to get spiking caseloads under control.

And if that weren’t bad enough, a mutated version of the coronavirus in mink seems to have jumped the species divide to infect humans. Denmark is reportedly slaughtering 15 million of the animals to stave off a second coronavirus pandemic.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news at the end of a difficult week, but it’s good not to lose sight of the fact that there’s something more dangerous than partisan politics lurking out there.


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