Photos: Drew Angerer/Getty Images (left); Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden is the preferred candidate to handle the coronavirus pandemic and he's opened up a 15-point lead over President Trump, an ABC News/Washington Post poll published early on Sunday finds.

By the numbers: Biden is ahead of Trump 55%-40% among registered voters. However, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's margin reduces to 54%-44% among likely voters.

Why it matters: Per the poll news release, "Three and a half months ago the two candidates were virtually even in trust to handle the pandemic, Trump +2 percentage points, 45-43 percent. Today, with COVID-19 cases surging around the nation, Biden leads Trump on the issue by a 20-point margin, 54-34 percent."

The picture: The phone survey of 1,006 adults, conducted July 12–15 with a margin of error of 3.5 points, comes as coronavirus cases spike across the United States. The COVID-19 death toll surpassed 140,000 in the U.S. on Sunday.

  • 19 states this week set new highs for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, and the U.S. on Saturday reported more than 71,500 new coronavirus cases — second highest to the record 75,600-plus set last Thursday.
  • 62% of registered voters told a Quinnipiac University poll out last Wednesday that Trump is hurting efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Of note: Trump's new campaign manager Bill Stepien on Thursday dismissed the wave of polls showing the president losing five of six swing states and sinking into a double-digit hole nationwide — noting that similar surveys "had the world convinced that Hillary Clinton would be elected in 2016."

Read the full poll, via DocumentCloud:

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include the poll and with further details of the survey and more context.

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Updated Oct 22, 2020 - World

France becomes 2nd Western European country to top 1M coronavirus cases

French President Emmanuel Macron at the Seine Saint Denis prefecture headquarters in Paris, on Tuesday. Photo: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

France has become the second country in Western Europe to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, Johns Hopkins University data shows

The big picture: France had reported 1,000,369 cases and 34,075 deaths from the coronavirus by Thursday morning, per JHU. French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of health emergency and imposed a curfew on virus hot spots earlier this month. Spain on Wednesday became the first Western European nation to top 1 million cases.

Trump claims COVID "will go away," Biden calls his response disqualifying

President Trump repeated baseless claims at the final presidential debate that the coronavirus "will go away" and that the U.S. is "rounding the turn," while Joe Biden argued that any president that has allowed 220,000 Americans to die on his watch should not be re-elected.

Why it matters: The U.S. is now averaging about 59,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and added another 73,000 cases on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The country recorded 1,038 deaths due to the virus Thursday, the highest since late September.

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.