Yankee players holding a black ribbon during the national anthem to show their support for racial justice. Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The MLB finally returned to the field for Opening Day on Thursday as the New York Yankees face off against the Washington Nationals, the defending World Series champions, in the District of Columbia.

Why it matters: Thursday's game sets off what's sure to be a historic season against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. The season was kicked off by a ceremonial first pitch thrown by the country's leading infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci.

In photos:
Grounds crew preparing Nationals Park on July 23 for Opening Day. Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, before throwing a hard-left opening pitch. Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Nationals players kneeling and holding a black ribbon to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Adam Eaton of the Washington Nationals rounding the bases after hitting a solo home run in the first inning. Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Yankee pitcher Gerrit Cole throwing in the first inning. Photo: Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

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In photos: Florida breaks record for in-person early voting

Voters wait in line at John F. Kennedy Public Library in Hialeah, Florida on Oct. 19. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images

More Floridians cast early ballots for the 2020 election on Monday than in the first day of in-person early voting in 2016, shattering the previous record by over 50,000 votes, Politico reports.

The big picture: Voters have already cast over 31 million ballots in early voting states as of Tuesday, per the U.S. Elections Project database by Michael McDonald, an elections expert at the University of Florida.

Updated Oct 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump escalates attacks on Fauci as Election Day nears, COVID cases surge

Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty Images

During a campaign call on Monday, President Trump slammed infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, calling him a "disaster" and claiming that "people are tired of COVID," according to multiple reporters who listened to the call.

Why it matters: Fauci, who considers himself apolitical, is one of the most trusted voices in the country on the coronavirus. Trump's escalating attacks on the government's top infectious-disease expert come as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are again surging across the country, just two weeks out from Election Day.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.