Overnight Health Care: COVID versus the economy | Second-highest number of new coronavirus cases reported on Election Day

Overnight Health Care: COVID versus the economy | Second-highest number of new coronavirus cases reported on Election Day
© Greg Nash

Welcome to Wednesday’s Overnight Health Care. 

We still don’t know who won the presidential election, but exit polls show voters are sharply divided on the response to COVID-19. Democrats will likely keep the House, and Senate control is unclear but leaning toward the GOP. Meanwhile, voters in Louisiana approved a constitutional amendment stating there is no right to abortion in the state’s constitution, and Coloradans rejected a 22-week abortion ban.

We'll start with the COVID-19 polling:


COVID versus the economy 

Exit polls show divisions over the government’s approach to the pandemic, even as the U.S. sees record-high case numbers. 

In exit polls conducted by Edison Research, 51 percent of voters said containing the coronavirus now is more important, even if it hurts the economy, versus the 42 percent who said rebuilding now is more important, even if it hurts COVID-19 containment efforts. 

Responses fell largely within party lines, with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE voters more likely to support rebuilding the economy now, while Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Ex-Trump appointee arrested in Capitol riot complains he won't be able to sleep in jail Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits MORE backers were more likely to view containing the virus as more important. 

Only 17 percent of voters rated the pandemic as the most important issue for them when deciding who to vote for, and of that 17 percent, 82 percent went for Biden and 14 percent for Trump. But most voters — 35 percent — ranked the economy as the most important issue, 82 percent of whom went for Trump. 

Meanwhile, 50 percent of voters said the U.S. efforts to contain the coronavirus are going “very badly,” or “somewhat badly.” Of those voters, 88 percent voted for Biden and 10 percent voted for Trump. 



Meanwhile, in case you forgot about the pandemic:

Second-highest number of new coronavirus cases reported on Election Day

The U.S. reported its second-highest daily total of new COVID-19 cases on Election Day.

More than 91,000 new cases were reported Tuesday, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.

The highest count was reported last Friday, with more than 99,000 new cases. 

Nearly 9.4 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the U.S., including more than 232,000 deaths. 

Several states recorded record highs Tuesday, including Ohio and Minnesota. 

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily has accelerated in recent weeks as the cold weather forces people to spend more time indoors, where the virus spreads more easily.

Read more here.


McConnell says he wants coronavirus relief deal by the end of the year

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell makes failed bid to adjourn Senate after hours-long delay Paul Ryan to host fundraiser for Cheney amid GOP tensions Senate Democrats near deal to reduce jobless boost to 0 MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that he wants a deal on a fifth coronavirus relief bill by the end of the year. 

McConnell, speaking to reporters in Kentucky, outlined a busy end-of-year agenda that will include attempts to get another stimulus deal, a large spending deal by the Dec. 11 deadline to fund the government and more judges confirmed — a top priority for the GOP leader.

"We need another rescue package. The Senate goes back in session next Monday. ... I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year," McConnell said when asked about another coronavirus relief deal.


"I think that's job one when we get back," McConnell said.

McConnell previously told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who asked about a 2021 legislative agenda if the GOP kept control of the Senate, that he believed a coronavirus deal is "something we’ll need to do right at the beginning of the year."

Read more here


Drug legalization makes big gains with voters

Voters in six states and the District of Columbia approved measures that will broaden the availability of previously illicit drugs for recreational or medical use in an across-the-board win for legalization advocates on Tuesday.

Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota will join 11 other states where recreational marijuana use is legal.


In Arizona, almost 60 percent of voters approved Proposition 207 to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, and to allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to six marijuana plants in their homes.

In Montana, a legalization measure passed with more than 56 percent of the vote. More than two-thirds of New Jersey voters approved Question 1, which will amend the state constitution to allow recreational marijuana use. South Dakota voters approved measures seeking both medical and recreational use of marijuana; the medical measure passed by a wide margin, while legalization passed by a slimmer 53 percent to 47 percent margin.

And Mississippi voters approved Initiative 65, which would allow the use of medical marijuana to treat about two dozen specific conditions

Voters in Oregon passed a first-of-its-kind measure legalizing the use of psilocybin mushrooms, regulated through the state Health Authority. Mushrooms will be decriminalized in Washington, D.C., after voters passed an initiative there by a wide margin.

Read more here.

Louisiana passes amendment stating abortion is not a right


Louisiana voters passed an amendment Tuesday stating that the state constitution does not protect the right to an abortion or the funding of an abortion.

With nearly 1.8 million votes tallied, about 65.5 percent of voters passed the amendment, while 35.5 percent of voters rejected it.

Tennessee, West Virginia and Alabama have adopted similar ballot initiatives in recent years as conservatives push the Supreme Court to roll back Roe v. Wade, the decision that first legalized the procedure.

Read more here.


Colorado voters reject 22-week abortion ban

Colorado voters on Tuesday rejected a measure that would prohibit abortions in the state after 22 weeks.

Proposition 115 would have slapped doctors with a three-year license suspension, fines up to $5,000 and a possible misdemeanor if they performed an abortion at 22 weeks or later, except in the case to save the life of a pregnant woman. Proposition 115 did not include any exceptions in the case of incest or rape.

Read more here.


What we’re reading

Denmark plans to cull its mink population after coronavirus mutation spreads to humans (Reuters)

‘Science was on the ballot’: How can public health recover from a rebuke at the polls? (Stat News)

Is this worth my life?’: Traveling health workers decry COVID care conditions (Kaiser Health News)

State by state

Maryland sees surge in key coronavirus metrics, prompting at least one county to consider tightening restrictions (Baltimore Sun

Hospital ICU space dries up amid COVID-19 in Minnesota (Star Tribune)

Utah coronavirus cases up 2,110 on Wednesday, with record-high hospitalizations (Salt Lake Tribune