Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 30, 2020

Harold Maass
Biden in Florida
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

1.

Trump, Biden hold dueling rallies in crucial Florida

President Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden held dueling rallies Thursday in Florida, one of the swing states that could tip Tuesday's election. Trump, whose path to victory depends on winning the Sunshine State, addressed supporters in Tampa, in the heart of a swing region with a big county that went for him in 2016 but twice backed Obama-Biden before that. Trump briefly discussed the economy, calling the 7 percent economic growth in the third quarter the "biggest event in business," before moving on to attacking Biden over his son's business dealings. Biden campaigned in South Florida's Broward County, one of the heavily populated and reliably blue areas where he hopes to run up a big lead on Election Day, before heading to Tampa for his own rally within hours of Trump's. Biden continued to slam Trump for what he called his reckless mishandling of the coronavirus crisis. [CNN, The Washington Post]

2.

U.S. reports record daily rise in coronavirus cases

The United States confirmed a record of about 90,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, topping the previous high of 83,734 infections reported Saturday. Twelve states set new single-day infection records, and 22 reported their highest seven-day averages. The surge pushed the total number of coronavirus cases reported in the country since the pandemic started to 9 million, capping an increase of a million in just 15 days. The death toll from the pandemic surpassed 228,000. Hospitalizations surpassed 46,000 for the first time since mid-August. Utah officials said their state was approaching a "crisis of care." "COVID-19 is the most devastating when hospitals are overwhelmed and unable to provide good care to everyone who needs it," Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) tweeted. "We have seen this in Italy. We have seen this in New York. We could see this in Utah if things do not change." [The Washington Post, The New York Times]

3.

Zeta kills 6, knocks out power to millions across South

Zeta, downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone, left more than two million people without power across the South on Thursday, a day after it slammed into Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane. Zeta ripped off roofs and knocked down trees and power lines in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and the Carolinas. The storm was blamed for six deaths. Among them were one person killed when a tree fell on a mobile home in Georgia. Another drowned in Mississippi, and one was electrocuted by a downed power line in Louisiana. By afternoon the storm had blasted through the Carolinas and reached Virginia, still with top sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. By evening it had moved over the Atlantic Ocean. [NBC News, NPR]

4.

Turnout already 58 percent of 2016 total

Early voting continued to smash records at the end of the final week before Election Day. More than 80 million Americans had cast their ballots in the presidential election as of Thursday. The record-breaking pace included an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, which Democrats have been encouraging so people can reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure at crowded polls on Tuesday as the nation chooses between President Trump and his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. So far, the turnout is more than 58 percent of the 2016 total. Biden has a substantial lead over Trump in national polls, but a narrower edge in battleground states expected to decide who wins in the Electoral College. Experts expect the final turnout to surpass the 138 million who voted in 2016, when only 47 million people voted before Election Day. [Reuters]

5.

France steps up school, church security after latest knife attack

French authorities on Thursday identified the suspect in a deadly knife attack as a young Tunisian man. Investigators said the man was carrying a Quran when he attacked worshippers at Notre Dame Basilica in the city of Nice on France's Mediterranean coast. Three people were killed. The alleged attacker was shot by police and seriously wounded. The Nice attack was the third in less than two months that French authorities have blamed on Islamist extremists. The Thursday killings came just weeks after another knife attack in which a schoolteacher was beheaded after showing students cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad during a civics lesson. President Emmanuel Macron said he would increase the number of soldiers protecting schools and religious sites from 3,000 to 7,000. [The Associated Press]

6.

U.S. economy surges but remains below pre-pandemic level

U.S. gross domestic product jumped by 7.4 percent in the third quarter, which translates into a 33.1 percent annualized rate, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The GDP rise from the second to the third quarter set a record, but it came after a record contraction from the first to the second quarter after the coronavirus crisis erupted. The economy still has shrunk by 10.3 percent so far in 2020. In fact, the 3.5 percent total GDP shrinkage during 2020 "means we are still down almost as much as we were during the height of the Great Recession," says Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. Looking at annualized growth reveals how much bigger the economy would be in the unlikely case it "grew at this rate for the next three quarters," economist Justin Wolfers tweeted. [Commerce Department, Diane Swonk]

7.

2 arrested in plot to use Philadelphia unrest as cover to rob ATMs

Pennsylvania authorities have arrested two men on explosives charges over an alleged plot to use protests over the fatal police shooting of a Black man, Walter Wallace, as cover to break into cash machines, Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Thursday. The suspects were the driver and passenger of a van stopped with dynamite, a propane torch, a Taser, and tools such as drills and bolt cutters inside. The arrests came after at least 30 ATM bombings in Philadelphia over the last four days. The two suspects, who were arrested Wednesday, allegedly were part of a group of up to 15 vehicles that had left a parking lot in a convoy that fled when Philadelphia police showed up in response to a commercial burglary alarm. [Reuters]

8.

Pelosi, Mnuchin clash publicly after failing to seal stimulus deal

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clashed publicly on Thursday after failing to negotiate a new coronavirus relief package. Pelosi sent an early morning letter to Mnuchin spelling out multiple sticking points in their talks on a proposed $2 trillion stimulus bill. Mnuchin responded angrily after learning about the letter through the media. He wrote back: "Dear Speaker Pelosi: I woke up this morning and read your letter to me in the press ... Because you sent it to my office at midnight and simultaneously released it to the press, I can unfortunately only conclude it is a political stunt." The two had continued negotiating for days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had ruled out a vote before the Nov. 3 election. [The Washington Post]

9.

U.K. Labour Party suspends Corbyn over anti-Semitism report

Britain's Labour Party suspended former leader Jeremy Corbyn after a watchdog found "serious failings" with how Corbyn dealt with anti-Semitism within the party. Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission found political interference in complaints of anti-Semitism, failure to train people to handle complaints, and harassment. Corbyn condemned anti-Semitism, but contended the problem was "dramatically overstated for political reasons." Corbyn's "failure to retract" those comments led to his suspension, a Labour spokesperson said. Corbyn then promised to "strongly contest" the party's "political intervention to suspend me." Current Labour Leader Keir Starmer accepted the report's consequences, saying "we have failed Jewish people," but "never again will we fail to tackle anti-Semitism and never again will we lose your trust." [BBC News, CNN]

10.

Trump administration removes protections for gray wolves

Gray wolves will stop receiving federal protections under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48 states, the Trump administration announced Thursday. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the change was possible because wolf populations have bounced back and can now be managed by local wildlife agencies. "After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery," Bernhardt said. The move had long been expected. Gray wolves once existed in most of North America, but were nearly wiped out by the mid-20th century. Conservationists said the animals need continued federal protection to recover in much of their historical range. "This is no 'Mission Accomplished' moment for wolf recovery," said Kristen Boyles, an attorney for Earthjustice. [NPR]