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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

America's confidence in the public school system rose by 12 points this year to 41% — its highest point since 2004, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Why it matters: "Double-digit increases in confidence for any institution are exceedingly rare," Gallup notes. The jump comes as teachers, administrators and parents are still figuring out how to safely get kids back to school in the midst of a global pandemic, as the U.S. reports the most coronavirus infections and fatalities in the world.

Where it stands: Within one week of K-12 schools reopening in Georgia, 1,135 students have been told to quarantine in one school district after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

  • In Florida, a domestic epicenter of the virus, nearly 300 high school graduates were advised to self-isolate in late July after someone at their graduation ceremony was diagnosed with the virus, CNN reports.
  • In Indiana, which set a new high last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, 228 students in one school district were recently sent home to quarantine, AP reports.
  • In Delaware, which has low case spread compared to the rest of the U.S., over 200 K-12 students were advised to quarantine after a football player tested for the virus within the last few days, per AP.
  • In Alabama, over 1,200 students from an elementary and middle school will start classes online after officials learned Monday that an individual "connected with both schools" had tested positive for the virus, AP reports.

Between the lines: Swiftly implemented quarantines show that schools are willing to take action to slow the spread, but it doesn't change the danger that kids face when returning to the classroom — especially in high-risk states.

The big picture: Gallup polling also found significant upticks in American confidence this year in banks, small businesses, organized, and the medical system. Confidence in the police fell five points to 48% — the first time in 27 years that Gallup has tracked this trend that approval fell below the majority threshold.

Methodology: Gallup conducted cellphone and landline interviews June 8-July 24 with a random sample of 1,226 adults in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Margin of error is ± 4 percentage points.

Go deeper: What a day at school looks like in a pandemic

Go deeper

Chuck Grassley says he tested positive for COVID-19

Sen. Chuck Grassley. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Stringer

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has tested positive for the coronavirus, adding Wednesday that he remains "symptom free."

Why it matters: Grassley is the second oldest member of the Senate at 87 years old, meaning he is at high risk for a severe infection, according to the CDC. The Iowa senator is the third in the line of succession to the presidency as president pro tempore of the Senate.

The Thanksgiving time bomb

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are at new peaks, cities and states are weighing second lockdowns, and flu season is upon us — but we're all looking the other way.

Why it matters: Pandemic fatigue has set in and the nation has collectively stopped caring just in time for the holiday season. This Thanksgiving could be catastrophic for public health.

Nov 18, 2020 - Health

Over a quarter-million people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The United States topped 250,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday as infections soar in nearly every pocket of every state in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: The sharp rise in the number of cases and fatalities has accelerated calls for government action. Wednesday's news exceeded infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci's March prediction in which he said "we should be prepared" that COVID-19 could kill 240,000 Americans.