Voting booths at the University of South Floirda. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

With just days left until the midterm elections, 26 states have already surpassed the total number of early votes cast in the 2014 midterm election, per Elect Project's Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who's tracking these returns.

Why it matters: While we don't know which party is benefiting from early voting, the numbers show an undeniable enthusiasm surge among voters in this year's election — and many states could have participation numbers closer to a presidential election.

What to watch: States like Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin and West Virginia all have competitive Senate races this cycle.

  • The other states include Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia, all of which have either an important Senate, House, or gubernatorial race, sometimes all three.

The biggest early voting differences:

  • Texas, where 4.3 million have already voted compared to 2 million total early votes in the last midterm election.
  • Tennessee, where over 1.3 million people have already voted. In 2014, the total was 634,000 early votes.
  • Florida voters have already cast more than 4 million votes, compared to 3.1 million.

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  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
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  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

Deadly Hurricane Zeta slams U.S. Gulf Coast

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a 55-year-old man was "electrocuted by a downed power line" in Louisiana as the storm caused widespread power outages Wednesday night, per AP.

What's happening: Zeta made landfall south of New Orleans as a Category 2 hurricane earlier Wednesday before weakening to Category 1. But it was still "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi with life-threatening storm surge, high winds, and heavy rain" late Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

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Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, testifies during a September Senate hearing on COVID-19 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told the Journal of the American Medical Association on Wednesday he doesn't expect a COVID-19 vaccine to be ready until January 2021 or later.

What he's saying: Fauci said during the interview that the U.S. was in a "bad position" after failing to keep case numbers down post-summer. "We should have been way down in baseline and daily cases and we’re not," he said.