Categories
Health

As the coronavirus continues to spread, covid-19 trails the economy as top issue for voters, exit polling shows



But about one-third said they were primarily motivated by the economy, including 6 in 10 of the voters who supported President Trump.

A slight majority of voters said it is more important to contain the coronavirus now, even if the necessary measures hurt the economy. About 4 in 10 said the economy is more important, even if restoring the nation’s economic health hamstrings efforts to limit the spread of the virus.

Amid the resurgence of the coronavirus in much of the United States, preliminary exit polling showed that voters are closely divided on whether U.S. efforts to contain the virus are going “well” or “badly.” But roughly twice as many voters say efforts to control the pandemic have gone “very badly” than say they have gone “very well.”

Millions of voters who cast ballots in person Tuesday were braving the worst stretch of the pandemic to do so. Nearly 88,000 new infections were reported Tuesday, bringing the U.S. total to more than 9.3 million cases. The virus continued its surge through the Midwest and Plains states. Seven states set records for hospitalizations of patients with covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, including Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Control of the White House and the Senate was up for grabs Tuesday, circumstances not lost on voters whose families and finances have been battered by the coronavirus.

“It’s very personal to me, because it’s right in my immediate family,” said Betty Sullivan, 59, as she stood in line to vote in Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday morning.

Two of Sullivan’s sons and three of her grandchildren have contracted the coronavirus. Her oldest son, who is 36 and lives in Atlanta, tested positive after going to a bar. Her youngest son, 32, apparently was infected by a co-worker. Her grandchildren, ages 6, 8 and 14, contracted the virus after being in day care and school within the past three weeks, she said.

“I think in the past, we’ve not really thought too much about voting; we’ve kind of been really, really casual about it sometimes, but, just with everything with the virus, with the pandemic, with the political climate, everybody now really realizes how important it is to get out, to come out and vote,” Sullivan said.

Regardless of the election outcome, the recent staggering increase in coronavirus cases has set the country on a difficult course for the next several weeks. A sharp rise in hospitalizations, already underway, follows the jump in infections, and a subsequent surge in deaths is expected in the weeks after that.

“The trajectory that we’re on is one that we should expect to be on for the coming weeks,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “We should expect to be hunkered down for the coming weeks.”

Stopping a surge in the pandemic, experts said, isn’t like throwing a switch. It’s more like trying to turn around an oil tanker at sea.

“The virus doesn’t know elections, doesn’t know borders, doesn’t know demographics,” said Ali Mokdad, a University of Washington epidemiologist. “Unfortunately, the virus is taking its course irrespective of what happens today.

“The election is not going to change the virus,” Mokdad added. “Our behavior, our response to the virus, hopefully will change.”

Barring a major change in behavior, meaning much more widespread adoption of masks, social distancing and other mitigation measures, Mokdad believes that “some states, a large number of states, will have to do a hard stop, lockdown” by December or January.

Although mortality rates have improved thanks to better medical techniques and drugs, the key driver of the pandemic is rampant community spread in much the country.

“Even a vaccine won’t flick any switch. There will be the hard work of actually vaccinating people,” William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in an email Tuesday.

Columbia University epidemiologist Jeffrey Shaman said part of the problem is that human behavior is not easily changed. There is “huge inertia,” he said, and that will make it difficult for officials to slow outbreaks in many parts of the country.

And if the United States follows Europe and enters a new phase of restrictions, there will probably be growing pressure for another large relief package, something Congress has been unable to agree on since the first one expired.

“There’s growing evidence about the need for providing resources to help people comply with public health recommendations,” Nuzzo said. “I fear we have focused on increasing number and type of tests, but have not eliminated the disincentives that people may experience about getting tested. Lost income, in particular.”

Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he hopes that after the election, “we can come together as a country and collectively fight the virus and not each other. There are no longer red and blue states, counties or cities. They are all covid-colored.”

Sarah Fowler in Jackson, Miss., and Scott Clement and Emily Guskin in Washington contributed to this report.



Source link

Categories
Politics

Trump’s lost his edge on the economy and trails Biden on every other major issue


Overall, the poll gives Biden a 9-point lead among likely voters nationally, 50%-41%, but the strength of Biden’s position is built upon the issues voters care about. 

Likely voter preferences on the issues
BidenTrump
Economy47%48%
Coronavirus52%40%
Unifying America55%36%
law and order50%44%
Choosing a Scotus justice49%43%

Trump has been effectively neutralized on the two issues he has deliberately pushed most over the closing months of the election: the economy and law and order. The poll also found that voters broadly support passage of a new $2 trillion stimulus deal to boost the economy, 72%-21%, but Trump hasn’t had the juice to get that done amid a revolt by Senate Republicans (who would sooner die than do anything to help struggling Americans).  

But Trump’s fall on the economy could be an indication that at least half of voters now view the national economic outlook as inherently linked to how well the country is handling the pandemic. Michael Zemaitis, an independent voter in Minnesota who is supporting Biden, said he clearly believed a Democratic administration would better tackle the coronavirus than Trump has. “Once that is dealt with, the economy will fall back into line,” he said. 

Additionally, most voters reject Trump’s assertion that we’ve “turned the corner” on the pandemic, with 51% saying the worst is yet to come while just 37% believe the worst is behind us.

Trump is also losing important demographics in the poll, with 56% of women holding a “very unfavorable” view of him along with 53% of white college-educated voters. In 2016, Trump lost women by 13 points while the Times poll shows him losing them by 23 points, 35%-58%. Likewise, Trump won white college-educated voters by 3 points last cycle while he is losing them by 19 points now, 37%-56%. 

Trump won his strongest demographic—non-college whites—by 37 points in ’16. The Times poll shows him winning that bloc by just 23 points now, 36%-59%.





Source link

Categories
Celebrity Entertaiment

‘The Rise of Skywalker’ box office trails other ‘Star Wars’ films



The force isn’t as strong with this one.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” topped the box office over the weekend despite having a weaker opening than the saga’s two previous films.

Disney’s newest “Star Wars” sequel raked in $373.5 million at theaters worldwide, including $175.5 million in domestic ticket sales, according to Comscore data released Sunday.

That domestic total is about 29 percent lower than 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” which earned nearly $248 million in its opening weekend, and roughly 20 percent below the $220 million debut for “The Last Jedi” in 2017.

But the ninth chapter in the main “Star Wars” series still saw the third-biggest December opening weekend ever, right behind its predecessors in the franchise.

“The Rise of Skywalker” has suffered from more mixed reviews than the other two films in the sequel trilogy. Only 57 percent of critics’ reviews have been positive, according to the aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, compared with 91 percent for “The Last Jedi” and 93 percent for “The Force Awakens.”

“This is such a beloved story ingrained in pop culture, and you’re never going to satisfy everyone,” Disney head of distribution Cathleen Taff told The Wall Street Journal.

“Jumanji: The Next Level” finished second at the box office this weekend with $58.7 million in ticket sales worldwide and $26.1 million domestically, according to Comscore.

The animated smash hit “Frozen 2” — Disney’s sixth billion-dollar film of the year — fell to third place at the domestic box office with a $12.3 million weekend.



Source link