Coronavirus Live Updates: Dire Numbers Prompt Mask Orders in U.S.

Coronavirus Live Updates: Newsom Announces Rules Forcing Most California Schools to Start Remotely

Coronavirus Live Updates: Newsom Announces Rules Forcing Most California Schools to Start Remotely

Coronavirus Live Updates: Newsom Announces Rules Forcing Most California Schools to Start Remotely

California’s governor announced rules that would force most schools to start the year with virtual learning.

Responding to soaring coronavirus infections and growing concern from teachers, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced new rules on Friday that would force many of the state’s districts to teach remotely when school starts next month and require most of its more than six million students to wear masks when they do attend class.

“We all prefer in-classroom instruction for all the obvious reasons,” Mr. Newsom said, “but only if it can be done safely.”

The announcement comes at the end of a week in which school districts across the state and country, including California’s two largest, Los Angeles and San Diego, abandoned plans for in-person instruction, saying they would start the school year remotely, and in which California announced a sweeping rollback of plans to reopen businesses.

Education leaders in Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, Arlington, Va., and Broward County, Fla., also said this week that they planned to open the academic year online, despite pressure from President Trump and some Republican governors who want students in their classrooms five days a week.

In Texas, where state officials had previously put limits on online schooling, new guidelines were issued Friday that would allow as many as eight weeks of online-only instruction when schools come back in session next month.

And leaders of Chicago’s public school system, the nation’s third-largest district after New York and Los Angeles, said on Friday that they’re planning for a mix of in-person and online classes. But they stressed that the announcement was a tentative framework, with a final plan expected in August. New York City schools are also planning an in-person and online mix.

The California rules announced by Governor Newsom on Friday would force schools in counties that the state has put on a “watchlist” — because the virus is spreading rapidly there — to teach online until they meet certain public health thresholds. Currently, 32 of the state’s 58 counties, including many of the most-populated, are on that list.

The rules would also require teachers and staff to maintain six feet of physical distance in schools that are allowed to reopen, and mandate masks for students in third grade and up. Younger children would be encouraged but not required to wear face coverings.

The guidelines also recommend that school employees be tested regularly for the coronavirus, something teachers across the country have been pushing for, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said doing so is not necessary, and scaling up testing has been a challenge.

The C.D.C. said Friday that it would not release its guidance for reopening schools this week as expected, saying that they would be released by the end of the month. Mr. Trump — who has been insistent that schools reopen in the fall — clashed with the C.D.C. earlier this month, calling its proposed guidelines “very tough and expensive” and demanding that they be revised.

With cases rising across Georgia and the rate of people testing positive increasing, a federal report distributed by the White House coronavirus task force earlier this week had some clear recommendations for the state, including: “Mandate statewide wearing of cloth face coverings outside the home.”

But while Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday that he believed that residents should wear face masks, he added that he would not require them to do so. And he is working to prevent local governments from issuing their own mask orders: he filed a lawsuit challenging the authority of leaders in Atlanta to require masks within their city’s limits. (Another recommendation in the federal report was “Allow local jurisdictions to implement more restrictive policies.”)

“Now I know that many well-intentioned and well-informed Georgians want a mask mandate and while we all agree that wearing a mask is effective, I’m confident that Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing,” Mr. Kemp said Friday.

The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, accused Mr. Kemp of putting politics above public safety in an interview Friday on NBC’s “Today” show. “I’m in quarantine as we speak, so I take this very seriously,” said the mayor, who tested positive.

The report was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington, D.C., and was later obtained by The New York Times. The report assessed the state of the virus around the nation, and included recommendations to contain the virus for several other states that were shown to be in a “red zone” because the outbreak.

More than half of the United States now has some form of mask requirement in place, and new orders continue to be issued, particularly in states seeing a surge in cases and in some Republican-led states where governors once resisted such mandates.

New mask orders were issued this week in Alabama and Arkansas by their Republican governors, and in Colorado by its Democratic governor. In Texas, where the pace of infections is soaring in some places, Gov. Greg Abbot, a Republican, reversed course earlier this month and directed Texans in most counties to wear masks in public.

Some of the nation’s biggest retailers, including Walmart, Target and CVS, said they would require customers to wear masks at all stores. And health experts say that wearing masks in public places is a simple way to stem the spread of the virus. But some people continue to resist them, arguing that the mandates violate their personal liberties.

A New York Times analysis found that mask use is high in the Northeast and the West, and lower in the Plains and parts of the South. In other parts of the country, there is a patchwork of mask-wearers, and the issue has remained contentious.

State and local leaders issued dire warnings on Thursday as new case reports in the United States surged above 75,000 nationwide for the first time and as deaths continued to trend upward.

“If you do the math, it is easy to see why the alarm,” said Barbara Ferrer, the public health director in Los Angeles County, Calif. With community spread rampant, she warned that the more than 4,000 new cases the county registered on Thursday “could lead to over 18,000 infected people in a few weeks.”

“And this is just from one day of new cases,” Dr. Ferrer said. “Without aggressive action on the part of every person, we will not get back to slowing the spread.”

More than 75,600 cases were reported on Thursday, according to a New York Times database, the 11th time in the past month that the U.S. daily record was broken. The previous single-day record, 68,241 cases, was announced last Friday.

The number of daily cases has more than doubled since June 24, when the country registered 37,014 cases after a lull in the outbreak had kept the previous record, 36,738, standing for two months. Daily virus fatalities had decreased slightly until last week, when they began rising again.

Four states — Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Texas — set single-day case records on Thursday. And three states set single-day death records on Thursday — Florida, South Carolina and Texas — with Florida and Texas alone combining for more than 300.

Seven others reached death records this week: Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Utah. Many of the states that reopened early are the ones seeing the biggest increases, while New York, the country’s hardest-hit city, has seen a 64 percent drop since June 1.

Public health experts have pointed to a few factors that help explain why the death count was initially flat. Treatment has improved and young people, who are less likely to die from Covid-19, make up a larger share of new cases.

Additionally, more widespread testing means cases are caught sooner, on average. That means that the lag between diagnosis and death would be longer than in March, when tests were in critically short supply.

In Kentucky, where the daily case average reached its highest point earlier this week, Gov. Andy Beshear warned that the grim circumstances in Arizona, Florida and Texas could soon materialize there.

“We are seeing state after state not just facing escalating cases, but facing devastation,” said Mr. Beshear, whose state reported a record number of children under age 5 testing positive. He added: “When you put up record numbers of cases, while our hospitals are working really hard, we will see more death.”

India surpassed a million confirmed infections and 25,000 deaths on Friday, weeks after the government lifted a nationwide lockdown in hopes of getting the economy up and running.

In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was one of the first to impose a national lockdown to slow the pandemic. But that drove many migrant workers out of crowded cities and back to their home villages, where some of them spread the virus.

The lockdown came at a steep economic cost, and Mr. Modi lifted it last month. Now India is recording about 30,000 new cases a day, almost three times as many as a month ago, and with testing still sparse, the true figure is likely to be much higher.

Critics say that Mr. Modi imposed the lockdown before it was needed, then lifted it too soon. In his defense, he has pointed to wealthier countries where the official death toll has been 20 to 50 times as high, relative to the size of their populations, as in India.

Regardless, India now ranks third in the world — behind only the United States and Brazil — in both total infections and the number of new ones recorded each day.

The rate of new cases in India is on track to soon overtake Brazil, which surpassed two million cases on Thursday but where the spread of the virus has leveled off. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimate that by the end of next year, India will have the worst outbreak in the world.

“We have paid a price for laxity,” said K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, a nonprofit organization of public health experts and academics.

In other news around the world:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday outlined a road map on Friday to ease lockdown restrictions in Britain and to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the coming months, as he warned that there won’t be any “significant return to normality” until November at the earliest, and “possibly in time for Christmas.” All schools in England will reopen in September, Mr. Johnson said, and concert halls and theaters might welcome visitors again in the fall, as well as stadiums. Indoor gyms and pools will also be allowed to reopen by the end of July. Nightclubs and indoor playgrounds will remain closed, and wedding receptions will remain limited to 30 people.

  • The United Nations is calling on wealthier countries to provide billions of dollars more in aid to poorer nations to prevent widespread suffering. The issue will be prominent at the upcoming G20 meeting of finance ministers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, according to Mark Lowcock, the U.N.’s top humanitarian aid official.

  • Japan has asked the U.S. military to quarantine all of its personnel arriving at American bases in Japan for two weeks and then test them for the coronavirus, the country’s defense minister, Taro Kono, said on Friday. There has been an outbreak of cases on U.S. military bases on the island of Okinawa.

  • European Union leaders are meeting to negotiate a massive economic aid package. The major sticking point is how much latitude to give those countries receiving the aid. The talks in Brussels are the first time that E.U. leaders have held an in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic.

  • The residents of Barcelona, Spain, were told on Friday to stay indoors in order to help contain a new coronavirus outbreak in the Catalonia region in the northeastern part of the country. The authorities also announced a ban on outdoor gatherings of 10 people or more in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia.

  • In Australia, the state of Victoria reported 428 new cases on Friday, another single-day record. “We are in the fight of our lives,” Victoria’s health minister, Jenny Mikakos, told reporters in Melbourne, the locked-down state capital.

  • The authorities in the Philippines said that foreigners with long-term visas could begin entering the country in August, for the first time since March. They will be quarantined, monitored and tested.

  • A 27-year-old woman in Tunisia was found guilty of “inciting hatred between religions” and sentenced to six months in jail and a $700 fine after she shared another Facebook user’s post about the coronavirus that mimicked Quranic iconography.

  • The Israeli government announced new coronavirus restrictions on Friday as the number of cases in the country continued to swell and the government faced further criticism for its handling of the pandemic. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the Health Ministry said in a statement that gyms would be closed and almost all restaurants would be limited to takeout and delivery services, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. Beaches, they said, would be inaccessible during most of the weekends, starting July 24.

Iran will impose new restrictions in Tehran amid a second surge in cases.

Iran will start enforcing new restrictions in Tehran on Saturday as it sees a surge of coronavirus cases that health officials say is even worse than the first wave that hit the capital city in March.

A third of government employees will work from home. Large gatherings such as funerals, weddings and religious ceremonies will be banned. Gyms, swimming pools, amusement and water parks, cafes and the zoo will also be closed, a health ministry official said. Restrictions in the capital city could last several weeks as the number of new infected cases, deaths and hospitalizations spiked.

Local hospitals are at full capacity and at one public hospital, 172 medical staff members are currently ill from the virus, officials said.

Iran imposed a brief two-week lockdown in April that coincided with the annual New Year holiday. The government chose to re-open the country in May, amid concerns that the country’s economy was in danger of collapsing, before it had met recommended benchmarks such as a steady decline in cases or having a contact-tracing system in place.

Iranians have largely resumed everyday life, returning to work, socializing at one another’s homes and gathering at public places such as parks and shopping malls. In light of the new surge in cases, the government announced a nationwide mask order and urged people to practice social distancing.

Tillis drew outrage for suggesting that Hispanics were less likely to wear masks or practice social distancing.

Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, suggested this week that Hispanic residents in his state were driving a spike in coronavirus cases, drawing accusations of racism from Democrats and Hispanic officials.

Mr. Tillis made the comments during a town-hall-style event on Tuesday, in which he was asked about mask-wearing and the spread of the virus.

“I’m not a scientist and I’m not a statistician, but one of the concerns that we’ve had more recently is that the Hispanic population now constitutes about 44 percent of the positive cases,” Mr. Tillis said. “And we do have some concerns that in the Hispanic population, we’ve seen less consistent adherence to social distancing and wearing a mask.”

Latinos have been disproportionately infected by the virus in North Carolina, but at least one national study has suggested that they wear masks at a higher rate than white people do. A Pew Research Center survey conducted last month found that 74 percent of Hispanic adults said they regularly wore masks while in a store or other businesses, compared to 62 percent of adults identifying as white.

Mr. Tillis’s critics argued that his comments ignored the fact that Latinos disproportionately fill jobs deemed essential during the pandemic, often without access to adequate protective gear.

“This racist BS needs to stop,” Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat of Texas, posted on Twitter. “Latinos & African Americans are most at risk, dying at higher rates — and STILL going to work every day b/c they are essential workers.”

A spokesman for Mr. Tillis, Andrew Romeo, said in a statement on Friday that Mr. Tillis understood that Latinos faced challenges including “increased exposure risk for essential workers on the front lines who are keeping our economy running.”. He said the senator had “been clear that not enough North Carolinians of all backgrounds have been wearing masks, and has consistently advocated that all his constituents do so.”

Take a look inside Johnson & Johnson’s hunt for a vaccine.

For a team of researchers in Boston, the past six months have been a blur of long weeks and late nights, of strict safety measures and scarce lab supplies, as they pursue an unusual approach to developing a vaccine against the virus.

“Everything has been orders of magnitude more challenging than in the pre-pandemic era,” said Dr. Dan Barouch, their leader and one of the world’s leading vaccine makers. Carl Zimmer, a science columnist for The New York Times, spent months tracking their nonstop efforts.

Dr. Barouch runs the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His dozens of researchers — medical doctors, senior scientists, postdoctoral researchers, grad students and assistants just out of college — have been collaborating with a division of Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s biggest companies.

They’re using a design Dr. Barouch and his colleagues pioneered 10 years ago in the quest for a vaccine to halt H.I.V. (That vaccine has shown promise but is still in trials.)

The researchers embedded specific genes from the coronavirus into an engineered version of a relatively rare virus that causes mild colds but is very effective at invading human cells: adenovirus serotype 26, Ad26, for short. The result primes the immune system to disarm the coronavirus by attacking its so-called spike proteins, the virus’s weapons of infection.

While the researchers in Boston have been running experiments in cells and monkeys, others in the Netherlands with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutica division have raced to find a recipe for producing the new vaccine in huge quantities. Already they have started making a batch for the clinical trials that will begin next week in Belgium, and soon in Boston.

If the vaccine proves safe, a trial for efficacy will launch in September. If that succeeds, Johnson & Johnson will manufacture hundreds of millions of doses for emergency use in January. Over the course of next year, the company plans to produce up to a billion doses.

It is a monumental task to develop a vaccine so quickly against a pathogen that no one had heard of before this year. But, Dr. Barouch said, “I’m even more optimistic now than I was several months ago.”

Senate Republicans plan next week to propose sweeping liability protections for businesses, schools, hospitals, charities, government agencies and front-line medical workers trying to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan, which Republicans have said must be the centerpiece of the next round of coronavirus relief, would bar employees and patients who became infected with the virus at work or injured during treatment from suing employers or health care providers except in cases of “gross negligence or intentional misconduct.”

It would move the jurisdiction of negligence cases into the federal courts, cap potential damages and set a high burden of proof for those suing. Other changes would protect employers from agency investigations and liability for injuries caused by workplace coronavirus testing.

The New York Times obtained a copy of a summary of the plan, written with Senator John Cornyn of Texas. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has billed the protections as vital to reopening the economy and insisted he will not advance any additional relief legislation unless they are included.

“Nobody should have to face an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic that we already have related to the coronavirus,” Mr. McConnell told reporters this week.

Democrats have taken the opposite approach, proposing new protections for workers facing increased health and safety risks, rather than for employers. They are likely to oppose Mr. McConnell’s proposal outright, potentially snarling broader talks that begin in earnest next week over how to prop up the sputtering economy and the nation’s straining health care system.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that the Republicans’ proposal “just isn’t fair” to workers, and said Democrats would be insisting on increasing the standards for workplace protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Elsewhere in the United States:

  • New York City will enter a limited fourth phase of reopening on Monday, allowing outdoor activities to resume at venues like zoos and botanical gardens, officials said. Indoor dining and other indoor activities at malls or cultural institutions will not be permitted.

  • Restaurants in New York City will also be able to use sidewalks, streets and parking spaces for outdoor dining through Oct. 31, the mayor said Friday. The city also announced that 26 more locations will be closed off to driving but open for dining on weekends.

  • New Jersey, which has already asked travelers from designated states with growing outbreaks to quarantine for 14 days, will ask those travelers flying in starting on Monday to fill out an electronic form with contact information and details about where they are staying, officials said Friday. State officials will contact travelers to remind them to quarantine and to provide them with testing information, officials said. Like the quarantine, filling out the survey is voluntary, officials said.

  • As its hospitals reach capacity, Broward County, Fla., imposed a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Friday. The county, home to Fort Lauderdale, also limited gatherings at homes to 10 people, required facial coverings at gyms and banned food and drink orders at restaurant bar counters, requiring all orders to take place at the table. On Friday, the state reported more than 11,400 cases and more than 125 deaths.

  • In Puerto Rico, where the situation has been steadily worsening after promising early signs of containment, Gov. Wanda Vázquez rolled back part of the economic opening on Thursday. Beginning on Friday restaurants were again required to operate at half capacity. Alcohol sales will be banned after 7 p.m. Bars, theaters, nightclubs, casinos, gyms and marinas have to close. Beach access will be allowed only for people engaged in physical activity.

  • In Ohio, more than 1,600 new cases were reported on Friday, a single-day record.

  • Two days after Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma announced he had tested positive, the Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell and four officers who are members of Mr. Stitt’s security team are self-isolating at home. Mr. Pinnell said that he has been “showing absolutely no symptoms, but sometimes that doesn’t matter.” One of the troopers has exhibited symptoms.

China is offering unproven vaccine candidates to workers at state-owned companies and the armed forces.

The offer to employees at the state-owned oil giant was compelling: Be among the first in China to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

The employees at PetroChina could use one of two vaccines “for emergency use” to protect themselves when working overseas as part of China’s ambitious infrastructure program, according to a copy of the notice, which was reviewed by The New York Times. They would effectively be guinea pigs for testing the unproven vaccines outside official clinical trials.

The offer was backed by the government. It stressed that data from clinical trials showed that the products, both made by Sinopharm, were safe. It did not mention the possible side effects or warn against the false sense of security from taking a vaccine that had not been approved by regulators.

“I don’t think this is right ethically,” said Joan Shen, the Shanghai-based chief executive of the pharmaceutical firm I-Mab Biopharma.

The unorthodox move, to test people separately from the normal regulatory approval process, reflects the formidable challenge facing China as it races to develop the world’s first coronavirus vaccine.

Eager to find a long-term solution to the outbreak and burnish their scientific credentials, Chinese companies are rushing to get as much data as possible on their vaccines to prove they are safe and effective. In China, they are selectively testing their vaccines on small pools of people like the PetroChina employees — an approach that does not count toward the regulatory process but that could bolster their own confidence in the vaccines.

Bearing a sword that had belonged to her father, George VI, Queen Elizabeth II tapped Tom Moore on both shoulders with a sword at Windsor Castle on Friday, confirming the knighthood of a 100-year-old man whose achievements during the pandemic had propelled him into the ranks of Britain’s most exalted citizens.

Neither wore a mask, though the sword was long enough for the two to keep some distance. Buckingham Palace banned the public, though Mr. Moore was allowed to bring his family.

The ceremony brought together two of Britain’s greatest living links to World War II: the queen who worked as a wartime driver and truck mechanic, and a decorated Army officer who fought in the infamous Burma campaign and who found celebrity this year raising $40 million for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his garden.

It also brought the queen, 94, out of seclusion for her first face-to-face meeting with a member of the public since March 19, when she left Buckingham Palace as the coronavirus bore down on London. Her physical absence has become a wistful theme of British tabloids, with one writing in a headline: “Queen heartbreak. Will we ever see the queen in public again?”

Windsor was also the site of a surprise wedding on Friday for the elder daughter of Prince Andrew, Princess Beatrice, who married a British property developer, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. The queen and Prince Andrew witnessed the ceremony, which Buckingham Palace said was private and socially distanced but still somewhat upstaged Mr. Moore’s investiture.

Learn about 20 of the most talked-about possible coronavirus treatments with this new tracking tool.

Companies and researchers worldwide are rushing to test hundreds of possible treatments meant to prevent or quell coronavirus infections. Some they hope will block the virus itself, nipping a burgeoning infection in the bud, while others are aimed at mimicking the immune system or quieting an overactive immune response.

The New York Times is cataloging some of the most talked-about drugs, devices and therapies in a new tracker that summarizes the evidence for and against each proposed treatment. The tracker includes 20 treatments so far; five have strong evidence of efficacy, three are pseudoscience, and the rest fall somewhere in between.

Reporting was contributed by Katie Benner, Lilia Blaise, Troy Closson, Michael Cooper, Nicholas Fandos, Farnaz Fassihi, Manny Fernandez, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Jeffrey Gettleman, Erin Griffith, Josh Katz, Mark Landler, Lauren Leatherby, Patricia Mazzei, Jesse McKinley, Sarah Mervosh, Jennifer Miller, Raphael Minder, Azi Paybarah, Elian Peltier, Kevin Quealy, Adam Rasgon, Motoko Rich, Campbell Robertson, Margot Sanger-Katz, Mariana Simões, Karan Deep Singh, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan, David Waldstein, Sui-Lee Wee, Will Wright and Carl Zimmer.

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