Biden and Trump host dueling town halls tonight

Good morning. Election Day is in 19 days. Do you know how you’ll cast your ballot?

Today’s biggest news reflects the issues front-and-center for American voters, from health care to climate events to the coronavirus. And while this evening’s scheduled debate which may have dived into the issues was canceled, two separate town halls – one with President Donald Trump and one with former Vice President Joe Biden – will air at the same time, 8 p.m. ET. 

So ready your remote for some channel-flipping. Democracy depends on it.

It’s Lindsay with today’s Daily Briefing newsletter. If you’re reading this online or on USA TODAY’s app, you can subscribe to get it in your inbox here. Let’s dig in:

NBC and ABC to host dueling town halls with Trump and Biden

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden will participate in competing town halls Thursday, in lieu of a face-to-face debate. NBC announced Wednesday it will host a Trump town hall at 8 p.m. ET Thursday in Miami – the same time that ABC will be hosting a Biden town hall in Philadelphia. The two candidates were originally intended to debate face-to-face, but the Commission on Presidential Debates announced it would be virtual after Trump’s bout with COVID-19. Trump rejected the idea, and the parties were unable to agree on an alternate format. The two candidates are still scheduled to hold a final debate Oct. 22 – a week from Thursday – in Nashville.

Today’s biggest coronavirus news

Final day of Senate hearings in Barrett nomination

After three days of confirmation hearings, Thursday marks Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s final day with the Senate Judiciary committee. The hearing will feature two panels of witnesses. The first panel will include two members of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which evaluates the qualifications of every judicial nominee. The second panel will include Democratic and Republican witnesses who will likely speak to Barrett’s character or in opposition to her confirmation. After the hearings, the committee can recommend that the Senate either confirm or reject Barrett by a majority vote before moving to the chamber for a full vote.

It’s open enrollment season for Medicare: Check your health plan

Medicare’s annual open enrollment period begins Thursday, and financial planners are urging beneficiaries to review and choose the plan that best suits their health care needs – especially given the COVID-19 pandemic. Medicare health and drug plans can make changes to costs, coverage, and providers and pharmacies in their networks each year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. Participants should revisit their Medicare enrollment options annually to make sure they are still adequately covered. Experts say most people also should consider buying Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) to help fill “gaps” in Original Medicare coverage. Open enrollment runs through Dec. 7.

More big news to know 

California braces for another fire threat

Californians are on alert Thursday as dry, windy conditions renewed the threat of fire in a season already marked by deadly, devastating blazes. As of Wednesday, Pacific Gas & Electric began turning off power to more than 50,000 Northern California customers, affecting portions of nearly two dozen counties, mostly in the Sierras and San Francisco Bay Area, that could last 48 hours. The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for extreme fire danger through Friday morning in many areas, with bone-dry humidity and winds possibly hitting 55 mph with gusts to 70 mph possible in the Bay Area. More than 8,500 wildfires have burned more than 6,400 square miles in California since the start of the year, most since mid-August. Thirty-one people have died, and more than 9,200 buildings have been destroyed.

Tony Awards nominations to go virtual 

Nominations for the 2020 Tony Awards will be held digitally on Thursday, months after the Broadway season was shut down due to COVID-19. Nominations will be hosted by Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart and will be announced at noon ET on the Tony Awards YouTube channel, Broadway shut down on March 12. Later that month it was announced that the 74th annual awards ceremony, which was scheduled for June 7, was postponed. There’s still no date for the Tony Awards ceremony. Eighteen productions that opened prior to Feb. 19, 2020, will be eligible for awards. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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