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Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the United States has recorded more than 8.2 million cases of COVID-19 and over 220,000 deaths.

USA TODAY

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows that, since the coronavirus pandemic began, the U.S. has seen nearly 300,000 more deaths than in recent years.

Usually about 1.9 million deaths are reported from February to September. This year, it’s closer to 2.2 million. The largest increase – 54% – was among Hispanic Americans. 

COVID-19 was involved in about two-thirds of the excess deaths, the CDC reported. That appears in line with Johns Hopkins University data putting the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus at more than 222,000.

The CDC also released updated definitions of the parameters of close contact with someone with COVID-19, which shows the coronavirus spreads much easier than previously believed.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the Senate failed by a 51-44 vote on Wednesday to pass a $500 billion emergency aid package that didn’t include $1,200 stimulus checks but would have given a federal boost to weekly unemployment benefits, sent $100 billion to schools and allocated funding for testing and vaccine development.  The vote was 51-44, short of the 60 votes required to allow the legislation to move forward. Nearly all Democrats opposed it over concerns that more money was needed to combat the virus and help Americans.  

Some significant developments:

  • USA TODAY’s experts foresee that at least one COVID vaccine will be approved in coming months. Then comes the hard part: Distribution.
  • Idaho is seeing its largest spike in cases since the pandemic began. In the past two weeks, infections are up 46.5%. The governor’s plan urges personal responsibility. 
  • First lady Melania Trump canceled her first campaign rally in months, citing a “lingering cough” from her coronavirus infection earlier this month. 

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.3 million cases and 222,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 41.1 million cases and 1.1 million deaths.

🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state.

This file will be updated throughout the day. For updates in your inbox, subscribe to The Daily Briefing newsletter.

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Puerto Rico shutters 911 call centers amid coronavirus outbreak

Both of Puerto Rico’s 911 call centers were shut down Wednesday night after several employees tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced.

Public Safety Secretary Pedro Janer said people should call the island’s emergency management agency at 787-724-0124 or police at 787-343-2020 in an emergency. He said both agencies are operating 24 hours a day.

“This is serious,” said Nazario Lugo, president of Puerto Rico’s Association of Emergency Managers, adding he was shocked at the government’s temporary plan to handle emergencies in the U.S. territory of 3.2 million people.

It is the first time Puerto Rico has shut down its primary and secondary 911 call centers. Janer said the buildings will be thoroughly cleaned and that he will soon announce when operations