Today's D Brief: More than 200K US dead of COVID; New election-security warning; Russian disinfo quotes Trump; DHS chief’s confirmation hearing; And a bit more.

More than 200,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus. That’s the equivalent of one 9/11 attack everyday for 67 days, the Associated Press reports

Put another way: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is now the fourth-largest mass casualty event in United States history. Only the 1918 flu (with 675,000 deaths), the Civil War (618,200), and World War II (405,000) killed more Americans.

Look at the faces and names of some of the 200,000-plus Americans who have lost their lives to the virus so far via the Twitter account “Faces of Covid,” here.

“Grim,” “staggering,” and “unfathomable” are some of the words AP uses to describe this period in the history of the world’s strongest and most prosperous nation — and a mere six weeks away from its next presidential election. 

“A shame,” is how President Donald Trump described the milestone when asked Tuesday by reporters. He then added the U.S. is “doing well” and “the stock market is up.” The Hill has more, here.

“It didn’t have to be this bad,” said Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden in a tweet Tuesday. “It’s a staggering number that’s hard to wrap your head around. But behind every COVID-19 death is a family and community that will never again be the same.”

Infections are rising in 22 states, most in the heartland and midwest, according to Monday stats from Johns Hopkins University. By contrast, cases were rising in just nine states one week ago, CNN reports.

New forecast: 375,000 U.S. deaths by year’s end. A University of Washington model frequently cited by the White House predicted that deaths would top 200,000 on Oct. 1. That estimate was from June. That same model now predicts 375,000 deaths by Dec. 31. For a deepdive on modeling and its uses, see Patrick Tucker’s “The Problem With Coronavirus Models Is How We Talk About Them” from April.

Big picture: “The U.S. has less than 5% of the globe’s population but more than 20% of the reported deaths,” AP reports. And “Only five countries — Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Spain and Brazil — rank higher in COVID-19 deaths per capita.”

By the way: Global poverty is on the rise for the first time in 30 years, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday. And across the world, incomes have fallen by nearly 11% during the pandemic — and that trend is not improving, according to new data from the International Labour Organization. Reuters has more on that, here

British PM Boris Johnson called for a “spirit of togetherness” as he announced new restrictions on life in the UK in the hopes of stopping a new spike in cases there. The new rules could last for six months, he said Tuesday, in what the AP called “a speech with deliberate echoes of World War II communal spirit.”

Meanwhile back stateside, the confirmation hearing for Acting Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf is underway in the Senate. And, at least temporarily, he’s facing new scrutiny for more than $6 million in coronavirus funds that went to the consulting firm where his wife is an executive, NBC reports.

That business is Berkeley Research Group, and Wolf's spouse, Hope, is vice president of professional staff operations there. "Although the company has a long history of federal contracts, it did not do work for DHS until after Wolf became the TSA's chief of staff in 2017," according to NBC News. More here.

From Defense One

The US Military’s Latest Wearables Can Detect Illness Two Days Before You Get Sick // Patrick Tucker: Some 400 troops are testing the devices, trained on nearly a quarter million cases to detect COVID and a whole lot more.

To Deter China, Extend New START // Alex Moore: A new arms race with Russia will drain funds from the forces that influence and deter Beijing.

The United States Has Become a Disaster Area // Emma Marris, The Atlantic: Hurricanes in the Gulf, fires in the West, the coronavirus everywhere—the country is a mess.

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1338, the first naval battle to feature gunpowder played out off the coast of modern-day Netherlands during the Battle of Arnemuiden. The cannons would not matter as the English were vastly outnumbered by the French, who captured the novel English artillery-equipped ship, Christophe, and executed most of its crew.

Today: We invite you to our conversation about “Space and an All-Domain Future” with the Defense Department’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Dr. Mark Lewis, joined by Defense One Global Business Editor Marcus Weisgerber. That gets started at 1 p.m. ET. Details and registration, here.
And tomorrow, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger joins Defense One’s Katie Bo Williams for the latest in our “State of Defense” series with service chiefs. That begins at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. Details and registration, here.

New FBI/CISA warning about election security: “Foreign actors and cybercriminals could create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions.”
BTW: Russia’s efforts to sow disinformation largely consist of re-broadcasting things Trump says, the New York Times reports. “In interviews, a range of officials and private analysts said that Mr. Trump was feeding many of the disinformation campaigns they were struggling to halt. And rather than travel the back roads of America searching for divisive issues — as three Russians from the Internet Research Agency did in 2016 — they are staying home, grabbing screenshots of Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts, or quoting his misleading statements and then amplifying those messages.” Read on, here.

A Russian warship collided with a 12,000-ton merchant ship near the Baltic Sea. The accident occurred Wednesday in the fog surrounding the Oresund Bridge that links Denmark and Sweden.
Russian news agencies said the Kazanets, a 1331M Parchim Class light frigate, had headed back to the port of Baltyisk in the Kaliningrad region. A spokesman for Cyprus-based Maestro Shipmanagement, which manages the refrigerator ship Ice Rose, told Reuters no one was injured in the accident.
There is no word yet on how the collision occurred, but Naval News reports that the Russian ship “does not appear to have been transmitting on AIS,” the  automated information system intended to help avoid collisions.

Finally today: There’s a great new podcast series from Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif. It’s called “The Deal,” and it tells “The story of the Iran nuclear deal; how it came together, how it fell apart, and what that means for the rest of us.”
There are just three episodes so far, and they are quite good. They’re also cut to very digestible lengths (about 25 to 30 minutes apiece), so it’s great for a run or a bike ride or a trip to the grocery store. And best of all, it features the brilliant, acerbic wit of “arms control wonk” Dr. Lewis — who has been a guest on our podcast twice (episode 20 and episode 63).
That reminds us: Inkstick Media focused its second season of the “Things That Go Boom” podcast on the Iran nuclear deal as well. You can catch up with that, here. And TTGB’s third season began in May and focuses on a much wider array of topics like modernization challenges, great power competition, and more. Find the promo for that newest season here.
What are you listening to, and what do you think our readers should, too? Feel free to let us know. For us here at The D Brief, it’s the BBC’s “In Our Time” and the design/architecture series “99% Invisible.”