1/ The U.S. hit an all-time high in new coronavirus cases two days in a row as the death toll surpassed 225,000. More than 85,000 cases were reported on Friday – the first time above 80,000 cases – breaking the previous single-day record set the day before by about 8,000 cases. The previous high of 75,723 was set July 29. On Saturday, six states reported their highest-ever infection totals and more than 78,000 new cases were reported nationwide. The number of daily deaths nationally has past 1,000 in recent days while hospitalizations have risen 40% in the past month. The average number of new coronavirus cases reported daily over the past week reached an all-time high of 68,767, and since Oct. 5, the seven-day average of new cases has exceeded the 14-day average. Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned that the nation is “at the cusp of what is going to be exponential spread in parts of the country.” Trump, meanwhile, falsely claimed – again – that coronavirus numbers are up because of an increase in testing. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / The Guardian)

2/ “We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Trump’s chief of staff said while defending the White House response to the coronavirus. Mark Meadows also dismissed the notion that the appropriate COVID-19 policy should be to “quarantine all of America” and argued that the focus should be on developing “vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.” Biden, meanwhile, called Meadows’ statement “an acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t.” Dr. Anthony Fauci added that “the universal wearing of masks” is essential to curbing the spread and “if the situation continues to deteriorate regarding numbers of cases, hospitalizations and likely deaths while many people still refuse to wear masks, we should seriously consider mask mandates.” Hours earlier at a rally in North Carolina, Trump complained about “Covid, Covid. Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid” and blamed the media for covering the virus. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / CNN / Axios / The Guardian / Associated Press / NBC News)

  • U.S. markets fell sharply, posting the worst day since early September as investors struggle with uncertainty about economic stimulus negotiations and soaring coronavirus cases around the country. (CNBC / Bloomberg / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • Americans should brace for 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, Dr. William Haseltine, an internationally renowned infectious disease expert, said. (Daily Beast)

  • Health secretary Alex Azar has discussed seeking White House permission to remove FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, frustrated by standards for authorizing a coronavirus vaccine. (Politico)

  • A top Trump administration official wanted Santa Claus performers to promote the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccination and, in exchange, offered them early vaccine access ahead of the general public. The $250 million federally funded effort has been scrapped. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in months and is not expected to do so before the election. (NBC News)

4/ At least five of Pence’s aides, including his chief of staff and his senior political adviser, tested positive for COVID-19. Chief of staff Marc Short, aide Zach Bauer, outside adviser Marty Obst, and two other people in Pence’s office all tested positive for the coronavirus. Mike and Karen Pence both tested negative. The CDC’s guidelines for essential workers who have had close contact with an infected person include wearing a mask for 14 days “at all times while in the workplace.” Pence, however, did not quarantine and did not wear a mask at an outdoor rally on Sunday. (NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / CNN / Axios / CNBC)

  • COVID-19 cases surged in counties after at least five Trump rallies. (USA Today)

5/ The Senate is expected to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court this evening. The final vote is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. ET — 30 days after Trump announced he was nominating Barrett. After saying on Saturday that he wouldn’t want to “miss that vote for the world,” Pence is not expected to preside over the Barrett’s confirmation after several aides recently tested positive for the coronavirus, unless his vote is somehow necessary to approve her. The White House also plans to host a swearing-in celebration for Barrett after the vote in the Rose Garden. About a dozen people who attended Barrett’s Sept. 26 Rose Garden nomination later tested positive for the coronavirus, including Trump, Melania, and three senators. The Rose Garden announcement was considered a “super spreader event.” To setup the vote, Republicans held a rare weekend session without the support of a single Democrat. (Bloomberg / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump privately told donors that it will be “very tough” for Republicans to keep control of the Senate because I don’t want to help some” of the party’s candidates. Trump reportedly mentioned “a couple” of senators he couldn’t get involved with. It was unclear who those senators were. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  2. Jared Kushner said Black American’s are “complaining” about inequality and racism in the country, and suggested that Black Americans don’t “want” success enough. (NBC News / Bloomberg)

  3. Trump reportedly plans to immediately fire FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper if he wins re-election. (Axios)

  4. The Trump-appointed head of an advisory council on the civil service resigned over Trump’s executive order to strip away protections against political interference in hiring and firing for career federal workers. Ronald Sanders served in federal personnel positions across four decades. (Washington Post)

  5. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act when he gave a speech to the Republican National Convention on a taxpayer funded trip to Jerusalem on August 25. (CNN / Axios)

  6. Trump is averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims a day. During his first year as president, Trump averaged six claims a day. (Washington Post)