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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, The Cook Political Report; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Several states that are likely to decide which party controls Washington next year have exceptionally large coronavirus outbreaks or are seeing cases spike.

Why it matters: Most voters have already made up their minds. But for those few holdouts, the state of the pandemic could ultimately help them make a decision as they head to the polls — and that's not likely to help President Trump.

The big picture: The U.S. is seeing a third wave of coronavirus cases, setting us up for a brutal winter. On Friday, a record 83,757 cases were recorded across the country.

  • Joe Biden has consistently polled ahead of Trump when voters are asked who they trust more to handle the coronavirus.
  • Worsening outbreaks could also impact key Senate races, which will ultimately help decide how much power the president has.

Details: Wisconsin and Montana have the largest outbreaks of all states with close Senate races or that are competitive in the presidential election.

  • Maine — where Sen. Susan Collins is fighting to keep her seat — is the best off by far, with a low per capita case count that isn't growing very quickly.
  • Florida, which has the most Electoral College seats up for grabs of all tossup states, has a smaller-than-average outbreak, which could mean less headwinds for Trump.

The bottom line: The virus isn't under control almost anywhere in the U.S., and even states like Florida have a relatively large and growing outbreak. Whether it's at the top of voters' minds or not, the winner of the election will be dealing with the pandemic and its fallout for a long time.

  • And given the current state of things, that person could be facing a worst-case scenario when they take office at the height of winter.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Louisiana officials find "probable" Omicron case in cruise ship COVID outbreak — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy.
  4. World: U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.