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The Supreme Court has sided with Alabama state officials who banned curbside voting intended to accommodate individuals with disabilities and those at risk from the COVID-19 virus.

The high court issued its order Wednesday night, without explanation, over the dissent of the court's three liberal justices.

At issue was the decision by the Alabama secretary of state to ban counties from allowing curbside voting, even for those voters with disabilities and those for whom COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal.

Updated at 8:33 p.m. ET

Iranian influence specialists are behind threatening emails sent to voters in Alaska and Florida, U.S. officials said on Wednesday evening and suggested that more such interference could be in store from Russia.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said the U.S. intelligence community believes Iranian and Russian operatives obtained voter-record information, which enabled Iran to target some people with intimidating emails based on party registration about how they'd better vote for President Trump "or else."

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The U.S. government said tonight that Iran and Russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion related to U.S. elections. Here's director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN RATCLIFFE: These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries.

SHAPIRO: This development comes after voters in Alaska and Florida reported receiving threatening emails this week. NPR's Miles Parks covers voting and election security and joins us now with more.

Hi, Miles.

In the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the hardest hit areas were big cities, from Seattle to New York. But now, eight months after the crisis hit the U.S, new cases are surging in some small towns and rural areas around the country.

Colorado is among more than a dozen states that set a seven-day record for positive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The U.S. government said tonight that Iran and Russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion related to U.S. elections. Here's director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN RATCLIFFE: These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries.

SHAPIRO: This development comes after voters in Alaska and Florida reported receiving threatening emails this week. NPR's Miles Parks covers voting and election security and joins us now with more.

Hi, Miles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed the amount of time it takes for someone to be considered a "close contact" of a person with COVID-19.

Previous language defined a close contact as someone who spent at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of a person with a confirmed case.

The CDC now defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

People considered close contacts are supposed to quarantine and get tested for the virus.

Updated at 7:33 p.m. ET

Former President Barack Obama urged Philadelphians to make a voting plan and cast their ballots early for Democratic nominee Joe Biden during his first in-person campaign event of the 2020 contest in a state that may be crucial to a Biden victory.

Two senior U.S. officials have visited Taiwan since August, one to discuss the pandemic and the other to attend a funeral.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Undersecretary of State Keith Krach were the highest-ranking U.S. officials to travel to Taiwan on business since 1979, when Washington cut relations with Taipei and recognized Beijing as the rightful government of China.

President Trump granted clemency to five people on Wednesday, commuting their lengthy sentences. The five cases had been highlighted by clemency activists.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

Senate Democrats say they plan to boycott Thursday's scheduled vote on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The U.S. government said tonight that Iran and Russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion related to U.S. elections. Here's director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN RATCLIFFE: These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries.

SHAPIRO: This development comes after voters in Alaska and Florida reported receiving threatening emails this week. NPR's Miles Parks covers voting and election security and joins us now with more.

Hi, Miles.

The Food and Drug Administration is evaluating two potential drugs that could help keep people healthy after they've been infected with the coronavirus.

So far, there's no clear system to make sure they would be allocated fairly or how to pay for these expensive drugs over the long haul.

"Demand is going to far outstrip supply here," says Rena Conti at Boston University's Questrom School of Business.

Theme parks in California say new state guidelines will keep them closed indefinitely, affecting hundreds of thousands of workers and businesses across the state. The presidents of Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other theme parks say they're considering all options to speed their reopening, including potential legal action.

For Salem, Mass., the horror this year isn't the appearance of goblins on Halloween, but visitors hoping to hang out in the witchcraft capital of the U.S. Because of the coronavirus, local officials want to discourage the very tourists that boost the city's economy.

Here are the steps Salem is taking to repel crowds — and hopefully COVID-19:

All the traditional Halloween events are canceled. Businesses are asked to close early this coming Friday and Saturday, and presumably for the following weekend, which includes Halloween on Oct 31.

General Motors is bringing back the Hummer. The military-style truck known as a gas-guzzling symbol of American excess fell out of favor and was discontinued in 2010.

But now, GM has resurrected it as an "electric supertruck" with zero emissions.

The GMC Hummer EV will have three electric motors generating 1,000 horsepower and can run 350 miles on a full charge. It can go from 0 MPH to 60 MPH in about three seconds.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The U.S. government said tonight that Iran and Russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion related to U.S. elections. Here's director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN RATCLIFFE: These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries.

SHAPIRO: This development comes after voters in Alaska and Florida reported receiving threatening emails this week. NPR's Miles Parks covers voting and election security and joins us now with more.

Hi, Miles.

One of the Louisville police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor seven months ago said while her death was tragic, it is different than other high-profile killings of Black Americans this year.

"It's not a race thing like people try to make it to be," said Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, one of the three officers who discharged their service weapons during the botched narcotics raid at Taylor's home in the early hours of March 13.

Updated at 2:42 p.m. ET

Pope Francis has called for legislation to protect same-sex couples, according to comments he made in a new documentary that mark a break from Catholic doctrine.

"Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They are children of God and have a right to a family," the pope said in an interview in the documentary Francesco, which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival. "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered."

This morning, human rights activist Rinu Oduala could still hear gunfire outside her house in Lagos, Nigeria.

"I can't even describe it," she said, growing emotional. "It seems like our whole hope is lost."

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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Democrats all across the country are anxious.

The fact that former Vice President Joe Biden consistently leads President Trump by double digits in national polls lately doesn't help. Neither does Biden's unprecedented advertising advantage over the incumbent.

Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET

Voters in Alaska and Florida reported receiving emails on Tuesday that threatened "vote for Trump or else!" — messages that have prompted investigations in both states.

Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET

With less than two weeks remaining in the presidential contest, Joe Biden's campaign enjoys a massive cash advantage over President Trump's.

The president's campaign committee finished September with $63.1 million in its coffers, compared with the Biden team's $177.3 million cash on hand, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission late Tuesday evening.

Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job.

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Attending school remotely is hard for kids, and it turns out it can be hard to return to school, too. That's because of the isolation and worry kids have experienced during the pandemic. NPR's Patti Neighmond reports.

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The Department of Justice is suing Google.

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