Crucial talks scheduled for Monday could determine the fate of a COVID-19 stimulus package as the nation grapples with a rising number of new infections and hospitalizations.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are scheduled to discuss terms of a package that finds Democrats and President Donald Trump pushing for an expansive and expensive bill in the area of $2 trillion. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many congressional Republicans, however, are opting for a “targeted” and much cheaper solution.

Pelosi has set a deadline of Tuesday if a deal is to be cut by Election Day.

Average daily U.S. infections have climbed above 60,000. Coronavirus-related hospitalizations are rising steadily, the daily number now up more than 30% from just four weeks ago. Among the hardest hit states is New Mexico, where Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said hospitalizations have more than doubled in less than three weeks.

“Doesn’t matter if you’re young, doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in it,” Grisham said Saturday. “The virus is real and it continues to spread, wreaking havoc on New Mexicans’ lives.”

The Upper Midwest continues to struggle. The ripple effect of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August is hard to decipher. In Wisconsin, Friday was the biggest single day for infections yet. On Saturday, Trump visited the state, urging Gov. Tony Evers to ease restrictions.

“I wish you had a Republican governor because frankly you’ve got to open your state up,” Trump said in Janesville, 40 miles south of Madison. “You’ve got to open your state up, get everyone back to school.”

Some significant developments:

Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, will resume in-person campaigning Monday with stops in Florida. Harris suspended attending events this week after two people associated with the campaign tested positive for COVID-19.

More than 6 million households failed to make their rent or mortgage payments in September, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban was cleared to resume normal activities after testing positive earlier this week for COVID-19, and he was on the sideline when the No. 2 Crimson Tide played No. 3 Georgia.

📈 Today’s numbers: The U.S. has reported more than 8.1 million cases and almost 220,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. Ten states set records for new cases in the week ending Saturday: Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wyoming, and also Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. Worldwide, there have been almost 40 million confirmed cases and more than 1.1 million deaths. 

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🗺️ Mapping coronavirus: Track the U.S. outbreak in your state

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Number of infections, deaths tied to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a mystery

More than 330 coronavirus cases and one death have been directly linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally centered in the South Dakota City two months ago, according to a Washington Post survey of health departments in 23 states that provided information. But the Post says many experts believe the 10-day event, which drew hundreds of thousands of bikers, was responsible for many times that number of infections. They say contact tracing often doesn’t capture the source of an infection, and asymptomatic spread often goes unnoticed. Attendees came from every state, packing  bars, restaurants and tattoo parlors in the area.

“Holding a half-million-person rally in the midst of a pandemic is emblematic of a nation as a whole that maybe isn’t taking (the pandemic) as seriously as we should,” Josh Michaud, an epidemiologist and associate director for global health policy for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Post. 

Alabama Coach Nick Saban shakes off false positive, leads Tide to victory

Alabama won a college football game – as usual – Saturday night with their coach Nick Saban stalking the sideline after a COVID-19 scare. The Southeastern Conference cleared Saban hours before the game pitting the second-ranked Crimson Tide against the No. 3 Bulldogs. Saban tested positive on Wednesday, along with athletic director Greg Byrne. Team physician Jimmy Robinson said Saban was tested the next three mornings, and the initial result was deemed a false positive. The news was all good for Saban and Alabama, but not so much for Georgia. They fell to the Tide, 41-24.

Trump touts recovery from COVID, urges Americans not to fear virus

President Donald Trump is claiming victory over the virus in his re-election campaign ads. One ad claims that Trump “is recovering from the coronavirus and so is America,” adding that he “tackled the virus head-on, as leaders should.”

Though the ad claims the U.S. is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 70,000 new cases were reported across the nation Friday, the highest number since July, during the peak of the mid-summer surge. And while the vast majority of those who have become infected recover, about 2.7% of the more than 8 million confirmed cases in the U.S. have died – leading to a death toll of nearly 220,000 Americans that grows each day. 

“Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it,” said Trump, who suggested he might be immune. “You’re going to beat it.”

– Bart Jansen

6M households missed their rent or mortgage payment in September

Persistent layoffs are slowing momentum in the labor market, which bodes poorly for the broader U.S. recovery as millions of out-of-work Americans delay their mortgage and rent payments. 

More than 6 million households failed to make their rent or mortgage payments in September, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America, a sign that the economic fallout from the pandemic is weighing on jobless Americans as Congress stalls on relief measures.

In the third quarter, the percent of homeowners and renters behind on their payments fell slightly from the prior quarter. Still, the overall amount remains high, experts caution. 

– Jessica Menton

New York movie theaters can reopen with limited capacity, Cuomo says

New York will start allowing movie theaters to reopen with limited capacity Friday in areas of the state where COVID-19 rates are low, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced. Theaters will be able to reopen outside New York City in counties that are below a 2% infection rate on a 14-day average and have no COVID hot spots, which would rule out Rockland and Orange counties, as well as a few counties upstate, including Broome. Theaters will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 50 people per screen.

The announcement comes after movie theaters have been pressing to reopen in New York, where infection rate is among the lowest in the nation.

– Joseph Spector, New York State Team

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 holds her hands as she prays during Pope Francis’ Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020.Nearly 10% of Vatican’s Swiss Guard positive for COVID-19

The Vatican says someone who lives in the same Vatican hotel as Pope Francis has tested positive for the coronavirus, adding to the 11 cases of COVID-19 among the Swiss Guards, who serve as ceremonial guards at papal Masses, guard the Vatican City gates and protect the pope. The Vatican said Saturday that the resident of the Domus Sanctae Marthae has moved out temporarily and is in isolation, as are all the people who came into direct contact with him.

The hotel serves as a residence for Vatican-based priests as well as visiting clerics and lay people. Francis chose to live there permanently after his 2013 election, shunning the Apostolic Palace, because he said he needed to be around ordinary people. The hotel has a communal dining room and chapel where Francis celebrates Mass each morning. At 83 and with part of a lung removed when he was in his 20s due to illness, the pope would be at high-risk for COVID-19 complications.

COVID resources from USA TODAY 

Contributing: The Associated Press.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID-19: Stimulus deadine nears; Trump lobbies Wisconsin to open up

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