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Pandemic, protests and police: a choice like no other

WASHINGTON – On the biggest day of voting since the coronavirus disrupted public life, Americans cast ballots in extraordinary circumstances on Tuesday, heading to the general elections during a national health and economic crisis and amid widespread protests and police installations that have disrupted communities across the country.

It created some unusual scenes during this most unusual election season.

In the country’s capital, for example, polling stations are open until 10 p.m. 20, while the city’s entire curfew begins at 2 p.m. (the police did not foresee arresting voters who broke the curfew).

In Philadelphia, 70 percent of polling stations were closed, while authorities banned vehicular traffic and closed public transportation in Center City, downtown, due to the unrest, which means the only ways to get to polling stations were on foot or by bicycle.

And in Indianapolis, where 90 percent of the polling stations were closed, voters faced long lines outdoors in the 90-degree heat to vote for the remaining seats.

The vote also came amid a prolonged attack on President Trump’s electoral system, which has attacked false postal voting as biased against Democrats, threatened to withhold federal resources from states that sent votes to voters, and generally, without evidence, Democrats are looking to rig the election.

Voters in eight states and Washington, D.C., elected nominees to congressional and local offices while casting perfunctory primary ballots in the presidential race, which has long been established between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

All locals who voted Tuesday had an exponentially sharp increase in absentee voting due to the pandemic, with some states receiving more than 20 times the absentee request four years ago. The increase in absentee voting also led to a new reality for an already irregular election night: some jurisdictions, overburdened by the number of postal polls, would be slow to report returns, which would result in a much fewer result for election night. Some competitions probably did not report until Wednesday at the earliest.

A race of interest in Indiana produced a winner: Republicans in the state’s fifth congressional district, which includes Indianapolis’s northern score and county in the north, chose Victoria Spartz, a self-funding Ukrainian-born state senator. She was one of 15 candidates to replace Representative Susan Brooks, a Republican who is retiring. The Democrats nominated Christina Hale, a member of the state House, for a race they believe will be competitive in November.

The most prominent race on Tuesday involved Representative Steve King of Iowa. Exiled by his party after giving an interview asking why white supremacy was considered offensive, Mr. King, a nine-run Republican, is the toughest primary in his career.

Elsewhere, Valerie Plame, the former C.I.A. agent out in what became one of the biggest scandals of the George W. Bush administration, sought the Democratic nomination for a New Mexico City seat. And the Iowa Democrats elected a nominee to face Senator Joni Ernst this fall.

The effects of current events were evident in Philadelphia, where voters were confronted with the dual realities of going to the polls in a city shaken by confrontations between police and protesters. Activists were also concerned about the presence of police and members of the National Guard near the polling stations, which they said could scare some voters.

“We see and know the effects of the police response to the protests in recent days,” said Suzanne Almeida, interim executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania. She cited the city’s convention center, where 18 polling stations had been condensed into one, as having a significant presence of the National Guard troops, “which is obviously a deterrent to voters.”

Voters reported waiting minutes of 90 minutes to two hours at Finley Recreation Center and Anna B. Day School in East Mount Airy, Philadelphia.

And counties across Pennsylvania were overburdened by a sharp increase in attendance at the AGM. On Monday night, Gov. ordered Tom Wolf six counties to continue counting polls that arrived after Election Day for up to seven days, as long as they were postmarked at 8 p.m.

Late Tuesday, a local judge decided that two more counties in Pennsylvania could continue counting votes received after Tuesday, as long as they were postmarked in time.

Very few people in Iowa turned out to vote in person on Tuesday. By 2 p.m., only 56 people had voted at the Coralville Public Library, according to Zach Wahls, a Democratic state senator who helped organize young people to work on elections so that the state’s regular crop of older voting workers could avoid the pandemic risks. During primary 2018, 287 people voted in person at the library.

“We had a voter every ten minutes or so,” said Wahls, who killed time by reading “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. “It was very slow.”

In Montana, where both parties have competing primaries for the governor, more than 57 percent of registered voters returned by Tuesday, the highest turnout of all 2020 state primaries, according to the Vote at Home Institute, which promotes voting by mail.

All 56 Montana counties chose to lead the primary entirely by email following the IGC Steve Bullock, who himself is on the ballot in a slightly contested Democratic primary for the Senate, allowing counties to do so.

  • Updated June 2, 2020

    • Will protests trigger a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people to the streets of cities across America raise the spectrum of new coronavirus outbreaks and warn political leaders, doctors and public health experts that the crowds can cause a powerful force in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the protesters’ right to express themselves, they urged protesters to wear face masks and maintain social distance, both to protect themselves and to prevent further spread of the virus in the community. Some experts on infectious diseases were calmed by the fact that the protests were held outdoors and said that the outdoor settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise scientists and doctors have some blunt advice for those of us who are aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then up your training, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the home-home mandate began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to facilitate your return to regular exercise safely. First, “start with no more than 50 percent of the exercise you did before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, head of muscle and skeletal medicine at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Also, thread in some preparatory squats, she recommends. “When you have not exercised, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle threads after these preliminary sessions after lockdown, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a call to stop and return home.

    • My condition opens again. Is it safe to go out?

      States reopen bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and that more and more companies are allowed to open again. The federal government largely passes the decision to states, and some state leaders pass the decision on to local authorities. Even if you are not told to stay home, it is still a good idea to limit travel outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What is the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting us with the bacteria is not usually how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies on influenza, rhinoviruses, coronaviruses and other microbes have shown that respiratory diseases, including the new coronaviruses, can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces, especially in places such as nurseries, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events must happen in order for the disease to spread in that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus – whether it is surface transfer or close human contact – is still social distance, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and full sinuses are less common. C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headaches and a new loss of taste or smell as symptoms to watch out for. Most people get sick five to seven days after exposure, but the symptoms can occur in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is inevitable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. The most important thing: Wash your hands frequently and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during seasonal flu is the safest place to sit in a plane at a window, since people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially ill people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your place and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces of your place such as the head and armrest, seatbelt buckles, remote control, screen, back pocket and compartment. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or plaid, you can also wipe it off. (Using wet wipes on upholstered seats can lead to a wet spot and spread bacteria rather than kill them.)

    • How many have lost their jobs because of coronavirus in the United States?

      More than 40 million people – the equivalent of 1 in four American workers – have applied for unemployment benefits since the pandemic took hold. One in five who worked in February reported losing a job or being flooded in March or early April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was very concentrated among low-income earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $ 40,000 or less lost work, compared to 13 percent of those earning more than $ 100,000, said a Fed official.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear fabric masks if they go out in public. This is a change in federal guidance that reflects new concerns about the spread of coronavirus by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, C.D.C., like W.H.O., has stated that ordinary people do not need to wear masks unless they are sick and cough. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-quality masks for healthcare professionals who desperately need them at a time when they are still in short supply. Masks do not replace hand washing and social distance.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you have been exposed to the corona virus or think you have and have fever or symptoms such as coughing or breathing difficulties, call a doctor. They should advise you if you should be tested, how to be tested and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

The night’s most prominent competition involved Mr. King, who has long been among the most aggressive opponents of illegal immigration in Congress and was once photographed with a Confederate flag on his desk. He was finally dismissed by his colleagues after commenting on white nationalism in a New York Times interview last year. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy abolished Mr. King carried out his committee assignments and left him with little power to influence the legislation.

Tuesday’s competition represented the toughest challenge in Mr. King’s career. Randy Feenstra, a state senator backed by Iowa’s Republican political establishment, raised three times as much as Mr. King while proclaiming himself an effective surrogate for Trump and conservative values.

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