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Coronavirus Surge, 2020 Election, Borat: Your Friday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Coronavirus patients are pushing U.S. hospitals to the brink — again.

The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in the U.S. has risen by 40 percent in the past month, while the number of new cases reported on Thursday approached the record of nearly 76,000 set on July 16. (This was what the country looked like on that day — arguably the worst of the pandemic in the U.S. to that point.)

Cases continued to mount on Friday, nearing the record amid a new surge of outbreaks as cold weather sets in. Thirteen states have added more new cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch. Above, a hospital in Milwaukee.

President Trump has promised a coronavirus vaccine in the next few weeks, but what happens once it’s distributed? The administration quietly closed a vaccine safety office last year, hampering efforts to track long-term safety and efficacy.

2. President Trump and Joe Biden laid out starkly different visions of America in their final presidential debate.

The two men engaged in their most extended exchanges over core issues that have often split their parties, including health care, immigration and race relations. Here is a rundown of their main points of policy disagreement. Above, a watch party in San Francisco.

3. Over 50 million Americans have already voted, exceeding the early-vote total for 2016. Above, Bedford, Texas.

The high turnout comes despite a mess of glitches and hourslong lines that have plagued early voting across the country. Still, voters say they’ve been energized by what many consider the most consequential election of their lifetimes.

4. Gig companies will employ drivers in California — at least for now.

A California appeals court ruled that gig workers for Uber and Lyft are entitled to benefits and wages given to employees under a new state labor law.

The ruling adds new urgency to a ballot measure up for a vote on Nov. 3. Proponents have spent nearly $200 million on Proposition 22, which would make gig companies exempt from the law, saving them hundreds of millions of dollars but denying workers sick leave, overtime and other benefits.

If the measure fails, Uber said it might shut down its services in parts of the state.


6. Three years into #MeToo, women are speaking out in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In late August, posts were shared on Iranian social media condemning over 100 men, including Aydin Aghdashloo, an internationally acclaimed artist. Mr. Aghdashloo now faces accusations of sexual misconduct over a 30-year span, including one from Sara Omatali, above.

The willingness by women to share their stories is a groundbreaking shift in Iran’s conservative society, where the burden of proof for victims of sexual crimes is onerous.

“A woman who is a victim can quickly turn into a criminal if she can’t prove rape,” said Shadi Sadr, a prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate. “When she testifies that there was sex, she is testifying against herself as well.”


7. What will New York City real estate look like next year? The answer may shape virtually every aspect of urban life.

We asked city planners, developers and local officials to weigh in on how the pandemic could change the city’s housing markets, land use and other policies. The outlook is daunting for an industry that generated $32 billion in taxes for the city last year, but many experts predict that New York will eventually bounce back — as it always does.

Rents and sale prices are expected to continue to drop in the next year, significantly so in some areas, but most likely not for the people who need relief most. Manhattan hit a different kind of milestone: Median rent fell below $3,000.


9. Borat is so 2006 … not.

Sacha Baron Cohen is reviving his satirical character Borat, a Kazakh journalist. In this long-awaited sequel, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” Borat is returning to America — or as he says, “Yankeeland.”

10. And finally, ending the week on a sweet note.

Sugar Good, the manager of the Dunkin’ doughnut store in Edmond, Okla., knew John Thompson by his order. Each weekday morning at 7:15, she handed him a sausage, egg and cheese croissant and a large hot coffee with cream and sugar through the drive-through window.

A year would go by before she passed him her sprinkle-bedecked business card with his breakfast. Then, in April, Mr. Thompson proposed in the Dunkin’ parking lot while dropping Ms. Good off at 3 a.m. for the start of her morning shift. And on Oct. 13, the two were married in the only logical place: the drive-through lane. The ceremony was kept short to keep the line moving.

Have a lovely weekend.


Marcus Payadue contributed.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.

What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at briefing@nytimes.com.

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