This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Wednesday, November 4th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. Certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens are under a zoned shutdown. Get answers to questions you may have with our "Ask An Epidemiologist" series, or learn more about NYC COVID-19 testing options with our explainer. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:

4 p.m. A voting site in the Hamptons has had a COVID-19 outbreak among poll workers, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Wednesday.

Six poll workers at a Southampton voting site tested positive, with another four people connected with the site testing positive as well, Bellone said in a Facebook briefing on Wednesday. All ten positive cases are under “isolation” now, while their 48 contacts are under quarantine.

It was not immediately clear which polling site this outbreak is connected to, or what day the first case was diagnosed.

Suffolk County has a 1.8% positivity rate for tests conducted Tuesday, according to the county’s Department of Health.

Bellone also announced that a group of 32 students from the Shoreham-Wading River School District had a gathering that resulted in three positive COVID-19 cases, which caused the district’s high school to switch to all-virtual learning until next week because of the number of staffers who had to quarantine.

“With this case there are currently 11 staff members who are quarantined, and 140 high school students that are under quarantine,” Bellone said. “Also a number of household contacts (are) under quarantine, bringing the total number of individuals under quarantine to 161.”

Gatherings in New York state are currently limited to 50 or fewer people.

“Even in an instance where you're complying with the gathering guidelines, if the proper precautions are taken...and to a certain extent, even if precautions are taken, you can end up in a situation like this and that's why it is so important that we remain vigilant,” Bellone said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability at City Hall the day after the election.

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability at City Hall the day after the election.

arrow
Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability at City Hall the day after the election.
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Daily New Virus Cases In NYC Are The Highest In Five Months

1 p.m. The number of new daily coronavirus cases in New York City is now above 600, the highest it has been since June 1st.

During his press conference on Wednesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio reported that the latest seven-day average of new infections per day was 628. It was the second straight day that the average caseload has exceeded 600, and the fifth consecutive day that the number has been above the city's warning threshold of 550 cases.

The mayor had set the cautionary marker in August but he has maintained that there is no reason to take action yet because other indicators like hospitalizations and the test positivity rate are still relatively low.

But hospitalizations have been gradually climbing. And on Wednesday, the city reported 114 new hospital admissions, the highest it has been over the last two weeks. Of those 114 hospitalizations, around one quarter—or 26%—wound up testing positive for COVID-19. The warning threshold for hospitalizations is 200.

"That's cause for concern," de Blasio said. "The fact that that has gone up worries me."

The city's average test positivity is 1.74%, a level that has been relatively flat over the last two weeks.

The mayor attributed the rising caseload to the hotspots in Brooklyn and Queens, as well as expanded testing citywide. The city is now testing more than 75,000 individuals a day, a record level.

"You’re gonna have more positives if you do more testing," de Blasio said, before adding, "Still that number is worrisome."

As Virus Rages Across U.S., Fewer Than 20% Of Voters In Exit Polls Cited Pandemic As Decisive Factor

United States President Donald Trump departs after making a statement to the nation as his supporters look on in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on election night.

United States President Donald Trump departs after making a statement to the nation as his supporters look on in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on election night.

arrow
United States President Donald Trump departs after making a statement to the nation as his supporters look on in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on election night.
Shutterstock

Despite coronavirus cases continuing to mount in the United States, with nearly 89,000 infections confirmed nationwide on Tuesday, only about one in five American voters cited the pandemic as the most important issue affecting their vote, according to exit polls.

The research performed by Edison Research, a consortium of television networks, showed that 17% of those polled said the coronavirus pandemic was the top factor in deciding who to elect for president, compared to 35% of voters who named the economy. Another 20% said racial inequality was the most important issue.

Among those who prioritized the pandemic, an overwhelming share—82%—said they had voted for Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

But the trend was reversed for voters who cited the economy as the top factor. In that case, 82% of those polled said they had voted for President Donald Trump.

Since the start of the outbreak, Trump has publicly downplayed the threat of coronavirus and refused to wear a mask in most situations, despite the urgings of his own health officials. His own infection last month and those of his inner circle became a cautionary tale of how quickly the virus can spread when precautions like masks and social distancing are not adhered to.

As he campaigned in recent days, the president asserted that the U.S. was "rounding the corner" on the pandemic despite all evidence pointing to the opposite.

Both nationwide and in Europe, the spread of the virus is accelerating and threatening to overwhelm hospitals. The U.S. has now totaled more than 9.3 million coronavirus cases and 232,000 deaths.

The day prior to the election, the Washington Post reported that Dr. Deborah Birx, the nation's coronavirus response coordinator, had issued a stark warning to White House officials in a private memo.

“We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic,” Dr. Birx wrote, adding, “This is not about lockdowns — It hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.”

In a separate story in the Post, Fauci said the country “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” to contain coronavirus as it heads into winter.

Infections and hospitalizations are now increasing is every part of the country, including the Northeast, which had been hit hard in the spring but which had managed to suppress the virus to low levels during the summer.

According to a tally by the Washington Post, 13 states — Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin — on Tuesday reported record numbers of patients hospitalized with coronavirus.

With the exception of New Mexico and Wisconsin, all of those states have been won by President Trump.

New Mexico was won by Biden with 98% of its votes counted as of Wednesday morning. Wisconsin is too close to call, with the counting of absentee ballots yet to be completed.