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News Wrap: U.S. officially passes 200,000 pandemic deaths

In our news wrap Tuesday, the United States has officially passed 200,000 deaths in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University. About two-thirds of the fatalities were over age 65, but young people are driving increased infections in some states. Also, a weakened Tropical Storm Beta remains stalled over the Texas coast, where at least 14 inches of rain have caused flash floods.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The United States has officially passed 200,000 deaths in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Johns Hopkins University reported the number today. About two-thirds of those who have died were over 65, but young people are now driving increased infections in some states.

    Still, President Trump claimed last night that the virus — quote — "affects virtually" nobody in younger age groups.

    In Britain, pub and restaurant restrictions snapped back into place tonight, as a new wave of coronavirus cases hits parts of Europe. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the House of Commons today that the curbs may last six months.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

    We have reached a perilous turning point. I wish I could reassure the House that the growing number of cases is merely a function of more testing, but a rising proportion of the tests themselves are yielding a positive result.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Also today, the president of the European Council postponed a summit of E.U. leaders after he was exposed to an infected security guard. He is now in self-quarantine.

    We will return to the pandemic later in the program.

    For the first time, the United Nations General Assembly met virtually today, due to the COVID-19, as it marked its 75th anniversary. In video messages, President Trump again attacked China over the pandemic. And the president of Iran attacked U.S. sanctions on his country. We will get the details later in the program.

    The U.S. Senate's Republican majority has moved a big step closer to filling the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. It was created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday.

    Today, Utah Republican Mitt Romney, a key holdout, announced that he is prepared to vote before the election on a replacement for Ginsburg.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah:

    I have indicated that what I intend to do is to proceed with the consideration process, and if a nominee actually reaches the floor, then I will vote based upon the qualifications of that nominee.

    The decision to proceed with a new nominee is also consistent with history and precedent, and that's where I come out.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Two of the 53 GOP senators have come out against taking up a high court nomination before the election. That made Romney's decision even more significant.

    But Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, again accused Republicans of changing their previous positions.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D- N.Y.:

    Change the rules of the Senate to pass Supreme Court justices on a majority vote. Rush it through before an election. It doesn't matter if you said the exact opposite thing four years ago, two years ago, or even, for some senators, a few months ago.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    President Trump said today that he will announce his court nominee on Saturday.

    We will look at all of this after the news summary.

    Tropical Storm Beta weakened today as it stalled over the Texas coast, unleashing heavy downpours. At least 14 inches of rain touched off flash floods that stranded cars and closed highways. The storm came ashore overnight near Port O'Connor south of Houston.

    A spreading inferno northeast of Los Angeles threatened more than 1,000 homes today. The so-called Bobcat Fire is now larger than the city of Denver, and advancing as much as two miles an hour. It's within striking distance of the Mojave Desert town of Pearblossom. Warnings for possible evacuation have gone out to Pasadena. That's home to the Rose Bowl and annual Rose Parade.

    The U.S. Justice Department has announced the arrest of 179 people in the U.S. and overseas in an opioid trafficking scheme. Officials say they also seized more than $6.5 million in cash. The operation focused on an illegal marketplace on the Darknet. That's a part of the Internet hidden within an encrypted network.

    A new audit finds the University of California system improperly admitted at least 64 wealthy students over six years. Some were falsely designated as an athlete. Others had ties to rich donors and university staff. And there were hundreds of other questionable cases. The audit followed a national admissions scandal.

    And on Wall Street, big tech stocks rebounded and carried the broader market with them. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 140 points to close at 27288. The Nasdaq rose 184 points, and the S&P 500 added 34.

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