ANALYSIS: 200,000 Americans dead, but Trump says COVID affects 'virtually nobody'

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(CNN) — More Americans have now died of COVID than of five wars combined.

Or, the US COVID deaths are the equivalent of US deaths on 9/11 occurring every day for 66 days.

Or, the US has suffered an average of 858 deaths every day since February 6, the date of the first known US coronavirus death.

Or, COVID is now the second-leading cause of death in the US this year, behind only heart disease. Read more here.

Many, many more deaths are on the way. Prediction models, which fluctuate, currently suggest the US could see 180,000 more deaths by the end of 2020 -- 380,000 deaths total. If fatalities approach that level, they'll far eclipse even Civil War battle deaths.

Infectious disease expert and government official Anthony Fauci said at the Citizen by CNN conference on Tuesday that he's concerned about the country not having control of the virus' spread ahead of a winter season that could exacerbate it.

"The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, and in some respects, stunning," he told CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta. Fauci argued that the country is in a pivotal moment to slow the spread right now with simple measures -- frequent hand washing and wearing masks, the same as the recommendation has been for months -- before winter comes, when people spend more time inside and transmission could increase.

"We do have within our capability -- even before we get a vaccine, which we will get reasonably soon -- we have the capability by doing things that we have been speaking about for so long, Sanjay, that could prevent the transmission, and by preventing transmission, ultimately preventing the morbidity and mortality that we see," Fauci said.

He added that he'd like to see the US go into the fall and winter months "at such a low level that when you have the inevitable cases, you can handle them."

Yet President Donald Trump says Covid affects virtually nobody. Rather than publicly mourning, Trump was arguing this week that Covid affects "elderly people with heart problems" and very few other people. "It affects virtually nobody. It's an amazing thing," he said in Ohio.

Somebody should show him this story about a 28-year-old Houston OB-GYN who caught Covid in July and died just recently.

Or he could read this story about a study suggesting Black and Latino people are twice as likely to test positive.

Oh, and watch video from Trump's event where an Ohio elected official, Secretary of State John Husted, encouraged Trump supporters to wear MAGA masks. They booed him.

Football loves masks, though. The NFL, of all organizations, is all in on face coverings. It's fining coaches and teams more than $1 million for failing to wear masks Sunday.

The CDC posted, and then abruptly removed, guidance on its website about the airborne transmission of the virus in gyms and restaurants. An official told CNN the guidance was not ready for publication.

And here's an interesting story: why efforts by US colleges and universities to open up have gone so poorly.

CIA assessment says Putin probably behind Russian interference

Trump routinely seeks to downplay the effect of Covid. He also routinely seeks to downplay the fact that Russia is trying to interfere in US elections again.

When FBI Director Christopher Wray said during congressional testimony that Russians are actively trying to interfere in the election to hurt Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump actively disputed Wray in a series of tweets.

If you were wondering which man to believe, check out this reporting from The Washington Post that the CIA has assessed that Vladimir Putin is probably orchestrating Russia's efforts.

The CIA assessment reported by the Post also names a pro-Russian Ukrainian parliamentarian, Andreii Derkach, as spreading false information about Biden among US lobbyists, lawmakers, news outlets and an unnamed person tied to Trump's campaign. Derkach is known to have ties to Rudy Giuliani. Read more here.

On a glide path to a 30-year 6-3 Supreme Court conservative majority

We said to keep an eye on Mitt Romney as a possible third Republican to oppose the election-year effort to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a conservative Supreme Court justice.

On Tuesday the senator from Utah said he'll join his party and move forward with the nomination, all but guaranteeing Trump's choice a vote.

And why not? Romney is a social conservative. This nominee will be a social conservative. He would be betraying his fellow conservatives in Utah, to some extent, by allowing a liberal justice on the court. Elections do have consequences and we'll be living with the 2016 President and the 2018 Congress until January.

A more legitimate gripe is that Republicans said one thing in 2016 and are saying the opposite thing now. It's nakedly politics. But they're politicians. Hypocrisy can be part of the job description when you're looking for a way to vote the way your constituents want you to.

This will only increase efforts to overhaul the courts now that a 6-3 conservative majority will be in place for 30 years. Amy Coney Barrett has emerged as Trump's preferred choice.

What could Democrats do? End the filibuster for everything. One remedy for Democrats would be to win control of the Senate, end the filibuster and pass some legislation. Heck, they could pass a law legalizing abortion nationally.

Or they can pass a health care law with 51 votes. And if people don't like it, Republicans can try to win back Congress and the Senate.

The permanently conservative court is about to be the new reality, because barring the complete implosion of Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Republicans have the votes.

New urgency for Senate races; Democrats on offense

The Supreme Court fight could alter the playing field in key Senate races headed into Election Day.

Take Maine's Susan Collins, who has said she won't vote for a court nominee this year. That could alienates base Republican voters at a time when she was already one of the most endangered Senate Republicans.

Republicans have a three-seat majority, but they're likely to pick up a seat currently held by Doug Jones in Alabama. That means Democrats need four seats elsewhere to get a 50-50 Senate and five to win a majority.

CNN is using Senate race ratings from the website Inside Elections this year. As Terence Burlij writes:

According to Inside Elections, six Republican-held Senate seats currently rate as Tilt Democratic or Toss-up. In Arizona, Sen. Martha McSally is running against Democrat Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, meanwhile, is facing off against former Gov. John Hickenlooper in a Democratic-leaning state. Both contests are rated Tilt Democratic.

The four Toss-up races are all seats with Republican incumbents. They include Iowa, where Sen. Joni Ernst is running against businesswoman Theresa Greenfield; Maine, where Sen. Susan Collins is facing a tough challenge from state House Speaker Sara Gideon; Montana, where Sen. Steve Daines is running against Steve Bullock, the state's two-term incumbent governor; and, North Carolina, where Sen. Thom Tillis is matched up against Democrat Cal Cunningham, a former state senator and Army reservist.

Check out our ratings and play with the map here.

Keep an eye on Louisville

The city is in a state of emergency and access to downtown has been restricted ahead of a grand jury report on whether charges should be brought against police officers in connection with the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Separately, six Louisville officers are under internal investigation.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "200,000 Americans dead, but Trump says Covid affects 'virtually nobody'."