The Atlantic

The Coronavirus Surge That Will Define the Next 4 Years

Cases are rising in all but nine states. Unlike the past two waves, this one has no epicenter.
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Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.

Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET on October 22, 2020

The United States is sleepwalking into what could become the largest coronavirus outbreak of the pandemic so far. In the past week alone, as voters prepare to go to the ballot box, about one in every 1,000 Americans has tested positive for the virus, and about two in every 100,000 Americans have died of it. Today, the United States reported 73,103 new cases, the third-highest single-day total since the pandemic began, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic.

This third surge is far more geographically dispersed than what the country saw in the spring or summer: The virus can now be found in every kind of American community, from tiny farm towns to affluent suburbs to bustling border cities. This is the first of the American surges with no

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