By LINDSAY WHITEHURST
Tumbling COVID-19 case counts have some schools around the U.S. considering relaxing their mask rules, but deaths nationally have been ticking up over the past few weeks. Some rural hospitals are also showing signs of strain and cold weather is setting in. The cold sends people indoors, where the virus can more easily spread. The University of Washington’s influential COVID-19 forecasting model is predicting increasing infections and hospitalizations in November. COVID-19 deaths per day have begun to creep back up again after a decline that started in late September. Deaths are running at about 1,700 per day, up from close to 1,500 two weeks ago.