Your Voice, Your Vote: The Breakdown - Covid-19 & the election

Early voters wait in long lines to cast their ballots, and COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country.
27:03 | 10/20/20

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Transcript for Your Voice, Your Vote: The Breakdown - Covid-19 & the election
And yeah. Hi everyone thanks for streaming with us send your voice your vote to break down I'm Diana Saito in New York. And I'm Terry Moran in Washington DC it's just two weeks from Election Day now and the Commission on Presidential Debates. Has announced some last minute changes to the final debate which is set for Thursday night president trump inform president Biden. We'll have their microphones muted while their arrivals are speaking during the two minutes each candidate is given to answer questions but during the open discussion portions. They'll still be able to interrupt when another. For what it's worth president trump told reporters last night that he will participate in that debate but the quote. It's very unfair they change the topic sentence very unfair that again we have an anchor who's totally biased on quote. Now we have to tell you both of those statements by the president are misleading since both campaigns agreed months ago that did topics would be left up to the moderator and the moderator. Kristen Welker is a well regarded journalist whom the president himself has complemented in the past. At a final debate comes as early voting is now underway in all fifty states and Washington DC. The United States election project reports that at least 31 million votes have already been cast. And more than 83 million absentee ballots have already been requested nationwide. As mail in voting is set up to make an unprecedented. Impact on the selection. And we'll have plenty more on mail in voting a little bit later but we start with this surge in corona virus cases here in the US sixteen states so a new records of corona virus infections reached in the last week and hospitalizations for Covert nineteen. They're now up and 41 states ABC's chief national correspondent mad gunmen joins us now from El Paso with a number of cases. Has risen 500%. In the last two weeks Matt I don't. No another reporter who's been on the front lines covering this pandemic as much as you have I don't know how many Kobe tests you've taken so there. In a place that is so hard hit right now. How dire is a how how does situation feels there. Big you know I've had 1010 Covert tests probably could've had a couple more. And speaking of Kobe it's necessary we are actually at a testing site right now. In El Paso and as we devious and sick. That dire situation I mean you rarely has. Health officials in agony as we do here. Not only calling the situation dire but saying the spread of the virus right now. Is uncontrollable. We have hospitals that are about to be inundated just want to show you that. This line goes all the way there you're looking at a line by military that is a mile long. They have been testing more lately but they are also finding that the number of cases has risen. Astronomically mean we're talking about a 500% increase over the span of just two weeks. That is very alarming. We've spoken to hospital officials who say it's just about a matter of some. For five days before their hospitals. Still up they are preparing to had more beds surge capacity but. It is not looking very good here and I'm a bit of a dark note mortuaries and funeral homes are preparing for that influx. By purchasing. More coolers and more refrigerator units. So what are health care workers are we're looking at right now what are what what are people on the front lines doing to fight the surge when you hear from them. You know they're exhausted Terry they've been doing this for seven months and I spoke to them Dutch. The chief medical officer of for the major hospital here yesterday and he says. It doesn't get easier VWE you're seeing. People dying you're seeing them gasp for breath. And you think you don't might become ignored at some point but it doesn't happen. Com they are humans and they are suffering I mean doctors and nurses and medical professionals. And it is increasingly hard and also it has been a grind they have been doing this for so many months. Seeing these lines seeing new patients could mean seeing people not Wear masks. Seeing these cycles renew themselves. And they are also part of the community Terry which means. There are also susceptible they might also get sick that's why we have a lot of traveling nurses. Coming into west Texas and hot spots like this across the country places. Like Montana that are getting slammed right now I just checked the stats before we left for the major hospitals in Billings Montana right now. Is it 97%. ICU capacity cuts here in El Paso over the weekend they'll pass is an area about. A million people plus pounds over the weekend there were only 77. Icu beds. In a region of over a million people so we are definitely in that spike again and now rural hospitals hospitals in cities like this are. Really struggling to cope Terry. And Matt do you feel that that people away from the front lines when the cameras go off and and you're out and about not too much I trust. But did you feel. That there's a significant personal tolling people's lives this diseases is taking or do you feel like people I think that's happening somewhere Austin somebody else's house and somebody else's neighborhood. How big is the impact. I think the impact is pretty significant the person from my seat mate flying in his fiancee. Her entire family is stricken with cove and it's five of her siblings are her mother. Are in the hospital right now and we spent a lot of time and fortunately Ed mortuaries over the past couple of days. And the funeral home director at one of the mortuaries died on Thursday. We spoke to his son two radio Johnson that demands who who died his name was harassing Johnson was a pastor but loved. Big basketball player a big guy with a huge smile. And just in listening to his son talk about his dad was it was pretty heartbreaking I think we might have something teed up and debut could give it a listen. Locals. Thousand lasting on the moon says that we will see us they were a total received. Received tomorrow you know recede tomorrow resume which it tomorrow so we can see you again. You know you took your left hand Elwood in ways and I was so we love you dad no all of us who have we love you that we are looking to you know he's he's got. He's at peace so. I know I know guys can say well done. Good and faithful service. Yeah I mean he was a loving father and he created a son who is also a loving father as well it is heartbreaking to see that. But we spoke to the mayor here Dee Margo. He blames young people he says people continue to go out they continue to party and when they drink their inhibitions go down. And they take off the mask and their talking and that is how Covert is being spread he said it's the cohort of 21 to 39 year old. Account for 52%. The Kobe positive patients right now and that is just sending that virus surging throughout this community so. We're just at the beginning of it here and in all parts of in separate parts of the west but this is just the beginning it's gonna get. Very very difficult coming weeks ahead. Not gotten in our man on the front lines in so many places states. And joining us now for more on the federal response to the surgeon a virus. Is doctor John Brownstein. To Dr. Brownstein thanks for being here prominent epidemiologist doctor Michael Oster home is saying that we're likely heading into. His words the darkest months of the pandemic now this morning doctor Todd Halloran told me he agreed with that. What do you think and what should people be doing to prepare especially amid the holiday is cold weather and flu season. Yeah. And unfortunately the. He's vulnerable population and very many places it was urged an. Absentee or just. All this and and it's all really bad mix clearly we're just pushing the same things we sent from the begin a Linda indoor gathering some. Wearing social sensing. What people who know they need to deal. As the happy holidays it's all you know you're seeing you're really are members we're charts its Ritchie can. Things are you in most public health officials. Of course if you are easy pandemic since eat enough to get people broke his seat car and say Brown's speeches. Trying to see sugar tree worker sports car these agents continue to duties he peoples here option as he is still tomorrow he's Irish aren't you. These were measures in place which are Charles this'll do you. And when every talk about the pandemic getting worse and people obviously worry about their health and their lives but then they also worry about their livelihoods. So many people are out of work or their businesses are struggling. Is there a middle ground here can we get through the fall in the winter while still reopening the economy. Yeah this is must also be answer came you know among scientists is just minor blocked arsenal down nobody wants a lock down nobody wants you the economy didn't shut down but the reality is immediate how. How a lot of times this summer to figure things out we're Jenny has surged now we're trying to keep schools open so what we do we have to be dangerous and we have to look at task puppet civilian clothes agents and the decisions based on. Cash no receipts Manger scene weren't happy New York City we're micro targeting of responses are quite blanket entire siege dealing with a response close to their neighborhoods and how. Have to be injured beef well our hearts not cheap begin to reopen clearly there's a pirates environments indoor dining. They close those salinity challenging one for until there's a real vaccine. But generally businesses can do you know ten reopens easily mask wearing a social distancing the incredible amount of creativity she he's just this soaring and it should be able to get we can do your job to do this are sent him. And doctor Brownstein Terry Moran here I wonder. Yes so much of this has become political we've we've lived this pandemic with the divide. Right through our country as a public health. Britain cares about public health how to public health authorities get beyond that is there anything that we can do. To get better results. Through last politicization of this pandemic. Well. It's a real challenge when you have an administration. That is politicizing. Science right to even have. Advisors is the White House that are challenging and ask for me this is and the results we don't even deleted over the weekends a master at work while that's. Real problem harm sources cited misinformation. It -- administration that's not Christians aren't we know and we're reading your data to suggest they weren't you just how tall how quick he's he's Indian bowl in the messaging your. And this is going to be even more challenging when the vaccine comes Fred brucker so many people in this country testing our how. Our nation I. Mr. Strauss in this new vaccine mean he's he's he's just what messaging need to counter misinformation. On social networks like me it's a huge challenge but it's the next he's he is resource she didn't. And doctor Brownstein just a little while ago we heard that First Lady Milan in trump canceled her plans to travel with the president today. Citing a lingering cough it's been more than two weeks since she tested positive so. Is it concerning it all that she still reporting a cough or is this to be expected. We'll. This incident is your degree now. It's unlikely that she's still infectious. She should tell sincerely wish you the results of those tests police also know that long cold it is I think you were here thousands of records people experiencing sentence for weeks and months and so this persistence and Angela Cox is something at least he sedans were exempt sort of our comfort First Lady. Also noticed pulled its misuse is she tension could you are you know beat you with an arrest three parents and from that perspective regardless of what he's trying to symptoms she probably should you resting and then went to isolate yourself right now. I'll tell that she's taking that advice doctor Don Brownstein we appreciate your time as always thank you. Given that. Has covered nineteen cases and Hoss position surge across the country health care systems are really feeling the pressure is Matt told us one nurse from Salt Lake City. Tells us she's deeply saddened when she hears that there are Americans across this country who are still questioning. If Kobe Mankins even real he's urging people she's urging the nation. To take this pandemic Sears. Can. It breaks my heart. To see. My teens my clinical teams. And can be asked to do more and more every day. It's good to care for patients. Who are some of the sickest that we've seen the parent and that are completely isolated from their families they can they can't how. In evaluating certain when they're in icu or in the acute care unit. We have patients yeah. Who are dying alone. With the only people at their bedside is bare feet is there isn't team's fan because they can't have family and because currently at nineteen you can't imagine the emotional and the physical. And strain and that we are putting on our health care providers and include prepared teams are now is astronomical. And not sustainable and they cannot continue to do this. This case. For as long as we are looking at the trajectory of 'cause in nineteen her country isn't the realistic and when her parents and even I need didn't Armenians. Everybody to join and acting governor. To take it seriously need to understand what it is doing to people's war it's. And come together to help us. You get through this. An urgent plea from the front lines in Salt Lake City when we come back and track for record turnout in this election was over thirty million Americans are already having voted early we've also been expecting a surge in mail in voting because of the pandemic. It's a farm and many are still opting to vote in person we'll look at why. What it means for the election. Plus his age of polarization of the two men running against each other for governor. They're asking a simple question can we all just get along could hear their message of unity and after. Yeah. We had been a good time out to keep stumbled just say. Heightens I think we're going to set a record. Tough for this location this was for the purpose of keeping our voters saying well I am now. Has taken as an ice storm. What you should do in person because I'm proud of its I want to get out of the way checking. Or we met Dave my week. I like coming to Fenway you know this. They haven't had you know Disney and spectator gates did this cius. You know I think you got pregnant and how does that open air and actually need that cancer so. The idea of being able the outside in India safer place to go it's really great that the Red Sox event. I've been saying for wall with the selection that I would walk through walls player. Just a few people across the country that have already voted for this election. And today polls are opening in another swing state Wisconsin. Boating is now under way in all fifty states and we are seeing record turnout at least 31 million votes have already been cast across the country. That's more than five times the number at this point in 2016. Out for a wobbled by mail was expected to be very big this year in you can see from the long lines though millions are also opting to do it in person Mary Alice park says more. I'm not voting isn't voters rather are weighing their options in this unprecedented election. This is a new site in America thousands waiting in line for hours to vote in person still weeks before Election Day. This I've never seen before and I'm happy to see this. Because this means it didn't really know what's going on First Amendment voting early. But I didn't want to leave its chance. Across the country people eager to bank their vote as soon as possible but some anxious about dropping their ballots in the mail. Officials now focused on telling voters they have choices. Are African American community does not trust their. Forty by mail process that we can truly is there will be issued a free media options under what Craig. Can create your own personal Steve Lavin plans. Without presenting any evidence president trump has repeatedly claimed he does not trust days to handle mailed in ballots I think it'd be raised who knows where they're going. Who knows where they're coming from though he and other members of his administration vote by mail trump has claimed an increase in absentee voting could lead to fraud. Experts say it's just not true. There is no evidence that that widespread or systematic absentee voter fraud is in real phenomenon so I think it's important to acknowledge that elections are not perfect and I democracy can be a little bit messy. Are they human error isn't a reason to doubt the integrity of the electoral process local officials including many Republicans in charge of elections now pushing. Hack violence can be confident. Casting their ballots absentee. We have the security and repair the records show that it's safe and secure way to go this year with fears about the pandemic many states it had to quickly ramp up their mail in operations. And there have been some problems. In Pennsylvania 30000 voters first sent incorrect ballots in Ohio nearly 50000 absentee ballots sent to the wrong voters to. In both cases though officials say the shares were caught and remedied immediately. The local Ohio county board of elections responding directly to the president. Saying Mr. President it certainly was a serious mistake but a serious mistake we're working hard to make right. Every vote will be counting and North Carolina and dozens of other states now let voters tracking their ballots and get notified if there is a problem. Sure it's going to be what we is reassurance to her how I asked where voting rights advocates agree voting by mail can allow more people to participate too many people who work multiple jobs who had helped or other responsibilities. It can really difficult to show up in person to cast a vote even if you want you that downside this year Americans might have to be patient for results no states have never processed high volumes of mail. And many states do not allow officials to even open the envelopes before Election Day means we're gonna happen. Lee. A former democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is an Al leading organization fighting voter suppression. Her advice for nervous voters. Number one can't hear a lot of crazy things but we have a democracy in the scene for 243 years it worked there is a little war it'll work. Number excuse me eighty slanted that are currently. And Mary Alice joins us live now with more on this and Mary out for the party switch their messaging at all on how. How to vote as we get closer to the election. While Democrats after months of fighting in court since statehouses across the country to make it easier for voters to vote by mail have definitely now start to shift some of their messaging should be seen much more focus on just telling voters to vote early. How would ever possible. Former president Barack Obama did a series of ads just last week. Where he said. Don't leave any doubts. Vote early and he laid out all the ways that people can vote early talking about how you can vote early in person in so many states. I think did Democrats recognize that some of the president's scare tactics around mail in voting had started to work. You're nervous about dropping their ballot in the mail nervous about may be making a mistake and they are filling out that ballot at home. And I think Democrats also know that even in a normal year more Democrats are more likely to vote by mail that Republicans. And if that can be that on election night the numbers look one way but after all those absentee ballots are counted but final democratic vote totals can kind of start to creep up. And I think Democrats started to worry that. That that could set the stage for possible fights misinformation litigation. After Election Day it it just takes states too long to count all those mailed in ballot. Now on that note in Pennsylvania the Supreme Court ruled out mail in ballots will be counted as long as they're received. Within three days then the election Republicans had asked for to be limited. To Election Day so why is this really so important. Yeah the US Supreme Court let stand that state court decision like you said Pennsylvania State officials will now have. The opportunity to count ballots settled that land three days after Election Day as long as they're either postmarks or there's not any evidence that they were somehow dropped in the mail after Election Day. And look at weren't expecting a real nail biter in Pennsylvania so every single vote could matter. This decision could BC news and could determine the entire race there for looking at a real neck and neck race. In Pennsylvania. Here's a lot of buzz in Washington today a ballot the supreme court's decision. It was a tie for Ford chief Justice Roberts siding with liberals in that case. All right Mary Alice parks forests thanks very honest. Hot dirty politics editor Sarah frost is in joins us now for more on the state of the race and I wanted to abort Mary Alice just left us and that's in Pennsylvania Sarah. And that Supreme Court ruling that. I let stand the state supreme court of Pennsylvania saying. Up to three days after a votes can still be counted as long as there were postmarked or mailed before the election. And merry houses ended and this could have a big impact. They talk about the kind of impact what does Pennsylvania look like right now and that case could come back. Because this was just letting it stand in a new case challenging counting votes after the election could come as well. So how big a battleground is Pennsylvania going to be there. Great so great now in our forecast Pennsylvania as the tipping state. Meaning in this fight and wins Pennsylvania he wins the Electoral College. And so that ruling that was just held by the Supreme Court is significant because one thing we know about mail ballots that are cast lead is they tend to be democratic cleaning and so that could really help them guidance. Overall vote count there particularly if Pennsylvania's closer is in play and. So is 100 of on our own poll lives in his news Washington Post poll shows North Carolina. In a virtual tie 49% of likely voters supporting Joseph Biden are 48% of president trump that's basically a tie. The thirty inch forecaster want to ask you about this. Joseph Biden's actually favored with a 67%. Chance of winning North Carolina soak. But what is your model take into consideration the latest poll doesn't what's the difference there between the poll number. And you're number. At the polling average rate so that's the big thing better forecast is pricing in to its projections. This is looking at all of the polls and taking an average from that and putting that into our forecast. And so bring now in North Carolina you know that race earlier in September was more of a toss up between Biden and trump. But starting in early October by an inserted to pull away and getting better margins in the polls but that sent keynote mark polls come out here in the last week that are like the EBC views in Washington Post one. I think you'll sees his odds of winning North Carolina. Go down that's to be clear and very competitive race that were watching an even though right in currently has higher odds don't count trump out. His parents Diane I know you're also tracking early and mail in voting we were just talking and Mary Alice about some of that. Hesitation that voters have particularly when it comes to mail in voting but how overall is the process going so far. With early voting this year. So sorry you know we've seen it long lions and people on the first state that he'd taken early vote in their state otherwise there hasn't been a ton of reports indicating. That there are huge massive systemic issues. You know that could crop up here in the next weeks and right now enthusiasm is high we're hearing historic numbers of people are early voting it's hard to price in to that is how many of these people would've voted on Election Day bright silly is this really you know historic turnout or people just voting earlier this year because of the pandemic that's hard to answer. Can Lawrence served process and from 538. Thanks so much for that. And remember you can go to 538 dot com for the latest election forecast it's addictive and find out more important how to vote. In your state. And finally it and I. Al-Qaeda and that's yours. Kevin Carey can read it together it'll be midnight your heart of the hall of fame thing. So this election has exposed just how divided we are as a nation but the candidates running for governor of Utah say it does not have to be that way. They may be running against each other but both the Democrat and Republicans came together. For a rare showing of unity take a look. I'm Chris Peterson and I'm Spencer Cox who we are currently in the final days of campaigning against each other to be your next governor and while I think you should move for medium of the really should vote for me. There are some things we both agree on or weakened to beat species without degrading each other's character we can disagree without cheating each other and win or lose and use we worked together so let's show the country that there's a better way my name's Chris Peterson I'm Spencer Cox and we approve this message sole murderer. Now both candidates it's weeded out that video to their followers Democrat Chris Petersen says. Working together and the peaceful transfer of power are integral to what it means to be American. Republican Spencer Cox agreed saying we must all commit to a peaceful transfer of power. And working together. I love that. I actually think most Americans remain pretty normal when it comes notified our corners but we can get along I think that the number of people are screaming at each other and hitting on each other. I don't think there are represented. Factory and more messages like that please politicians. That's an and that does is for here on. Your voices your vote to break down I'm Terry Moran in Washington and I and analysts say to a New York we will see you back here tomorrow at 3 PM eastern had a great that everybody.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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