U.S. Hits Another Record for New Coronavirus Cases

Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. and World News

Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. and World News

Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. and World News

Officials in Texas and Georgia warn reopenings could reverse amid record U.S. caseloads and rising deaths.

As coronavirus cases reach new highs and outbreaks continue to grow steeply in the U.S. South and West, and the daily national death toll rises, officials in two battered states are warning that they may need to reverse reopenings that had followed a national lull in confirmed infections.

The United States on Friday reached 60,000 new cases for the first time, and the number ultimately soared to more than 68,000 — setting a single-day record for the seventh time in 11 days, according to a New York Times database. South Carolina on Saturday reported 2,280 new cases, a single-day record.

And eight states set single-day death records this week: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Tennessee. The country’s seven-day death average reached 642 on Friday, up from 471 earlier this month, but still a fraction of the more than 2,200 deaths the country averaged each day in mid-April, when the outbreak in the Northeast was at its worst.

In Texas, which reported record numbers of daily cases four times this week, Gov. Greg Abbott signaled the possibility of a new economic “lockdown” if the state cannot curtail the caseloads and hospitalizations that have made it one of the country’s worst hot spots in the pandemic.

Mr. Abbott, a Republican, predicted in a televised interview that “things will get worse” and said that he might take steps even more drastic than a statewide face-mask requirement that has angered members of his party.

“I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason: It was our last best effort to slow the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

In Georgia, which reported more than 4,000 new cases on Friday, Atlanta officials said they were preparing to shift back to “Phase 1” guidelines, which call for residents to largely stay at home. Most of Georgia’s cases have been concentrated in the counties making up the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, who said she had tested positive for the coronavirus this week, issued a mask mandate in the city on Wednesday and added further limits on large gatherings.

Georgia’s growing concerns were also underscored when Gov. Brian Kemp said that the state was again transforming a convention center in Atlanta into a makeshift medical center as hospitals were filling with patients.

A new global record for daily infections was also reached Friday, as the World Health Organization reported that 228,102 new cases had surfaced. The other nations showing the largest daily increases in cases were Brazil, Mexico, India and South Africa.

There are 49 state governments that report the home county of people who die from the coronavirus. And then there is Kansas, which refuses to do so.

There are 49 state governments that update their coronavirus case totals at least five times a week. And then there is Kansas, which forgoes updates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends.

As Kansas’ case numbers surge to record levels — more than 4,000 infections have been announced already this month, including spikes around Wichita, Lawrence and the Kansas City suburbs — the state sticks out for its opacity.

Since early in the pandemic, Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration has refused to release the names of meatpacking plants tied to thousands of cases, citing privacy concerns. In neighboring Colorado and Missouri, state officials have provided detailed accounts of similar outbreaks.

Officials at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment use the same reason — patient privacy — for refusing to say which of the state’s 105 counties are reporting coronavirus deaths. All other states have long provided county-level death details. In Kansas, it is up to local officials to decide whether to release that information.

The state government has stuck by its policies even as outbreaks have emerged at Kansas bars, churches and colleges, and as officials in several counties have overturned Ms. Kelly’s order requiring masks.

Until mid-May, Kansas updated its public data every day, like almost every other state. But for nearly two months, state-level updates have come only three times a week. That has left Kansans with less frequent information at the same time that Republicans in the state have tried to curb the emergency authority of Ms. Kelly, a Democrat, and as officials in many counties have disregarded her reopening plan.

Kristi Zears, a state health department spokeswoman, said the decision to cut back on public updates allowed officials to focus on other aspects of the coronavirus response, and that it had not slowed the pace of case investigations.

“With the increasing number of outbreaks and increasing requests from local health departments to assist with case investigations and contact tracing, we shifted more focus on assisting counties,” Ms. Zears said in an email.

Disney World and other amusement parks open their doors despite surging cases.

Disney World moved ahead on Saturday with a contentious plan to allow guests back into parts of its sprawling resort, even as coronavirus cases in Florida continued to surge.

Visitors with advance reservations could gain access to the resort’s two most popular amusement parks, Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, beginning on Saturday. Disney World’s other major parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, are set to reopen on Wednesday.

Other amusement parks are also opening. Dorney Park in Pennsylvania and Cedar Point in Ohio also announced they would open to all guests on Saturday, after exclusively allowing season pass holders for several days. SeaWorld Orlando also resumed operating its rides and marine exhibits on Saturday.

All of the reopening parks have announced strict measures to limit crowds and regularly clean rides, in accordance with guidelines for amusement parks laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Temperature screenings at entrances are being enforced, and masks are generally required inside. Seats on some roller coasters are being left empty to promote social distancing, and some rides that cannot accommodate distancing requirements are closed.

Cedar Point announced that it would initially operate at about 20 percent capacity. Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, which reopened last week, said it would require guests to wear masks even in pools and water rides.

But even with amusement parks reopening at reduced capacity, fears remained that large resorts could spread the pandemic, especially in states where cases have spiked in recent days. Ohio on Friday set a single-day record with 1,525 new cases, and Florida hit daily records twice in the last 10 days, and has surpassed 10,000 daily cases five times in that period, announcing 10,360 new infections on Saturday.

In anticipation of the reopening, Disney employees anonymously created an online petition asking the company to keep its parks closed until new infection rates declined. As of Saturday morning, the petition had gathered over 20,000 signatures.

Amusement parks reopening abroad have been forced to grapple with similar concerns. A park in Japan implored visitors to “scream in their hearts,” rather than aloud, out of fear that shrieking patrons could spread aerosols containing the virus.

The park also shared a demonstration video of two mask-clad riders silently coursing over a steel roller coaster’s precipitous falls and sharp banks.

As school districts across the United States consider whether and how to restart in-person classes, they face two fundamental uncertainties: No nation has tried to send children back to school with the virus raging at levels like America’s, and the scientific research about transmission in classrooms is limited.

The World Health Organization has concluded that the virus is airborne in crowded, indoor spaces with poor ventilation, a description that fits many American schools, and many of the country’s 3.5 million teachers are feeling under siege, under pressure from the White House, pediatricians and some parents to resume normal teaching.

“I’m just going to say it: It feels like we’re playing Russian roulette with our kids and our staff,” said Robin Cogan, a nurse at the Yorkship School in Camden, N.J., who serves on the state’s committee on reopening schools.

Three science reporters for The Times, Pam Belluck, Apoorva Mandavilli and Benedict Carey, reviewed relevant studies from around the world. The data, they write, clearly shows that children are far less likely than adults to become seriously ill from the virus. And some research suggests younger children are less likely than teenagers to infect others, though the evidence is not conclusive.

Countries like Norway and Denmark reopened schools after reducing infection levels, and have not seen a surge in cases. They initially opened only for younger children, strengthened sanitizing procedures, and have kept class size limited, children in small groups at recess and space between desks.

The larger concern is that children could become infected, many with no symptoms, and then spread the virus to others, including family members, teachers and other school employees. In Israel, the virus infected more than 200 students and staff after schools reopened in early May and lifted limits on class size a few weeks later, according to a report by University of Washington researchers.

On the other hand, a study in Ireland of six infected people — two high school students, an elementary student and three adults — who spent time in schools before they closed in March found that the only documented transmission involved one of the adults, and outside of school.

When California shut down its economy in March, it became a model for painful but aggressive action to counter the virus. The implicit trade-off was that a lot of upfront pain would help slow the spread, allowing the state to reopen sooner and more triumphantly than places that failed to act as decisively.

But the virus had other plans. California is now averaging about 8,000 new cases a day, and the state’s economy is in retrenchment mode again.

Unemployment, which was 3.9 percent in February, the lowest on record, shot up to 16.3 percent by May, compared with 13.3 percent nationwide. Container traffic at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is down about a third from a year ago, while many beaches and attractions like Disneyland were closed on July Fourth and are delaying their reopening plans. Most dispiriting is the sense that even after politicians made tough calls that Californians largely supported, the economy seems no better off.

Andrew Snow, who owns the Golden Squirrel, a restaurant and bar in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, cut his staff of 28 people to two after the pandemic hit. But thanks to takeout orders, a new line of business selling groceries and the resumption of outdoor service, he recently brought two back, and was set to bump that figure to six or eight by the July Fourth weekend.

But business is slowing again, as California is averaging about 8,000 new cases a day, about triple the level a month ago. Mr. Snow’s plans to bring back workers over the holiday weekend didn’t come to pass, and he has put further hiring on hold.

“People are scared,” he said. “The math for having more people doesn’t work out anymore.”

India, which four months ago brought in the world’s largest coronavirus lockdown, is reimposing restrictions in many parts of the country as medical facilities are being pushed to the brink amid a surge of new infections since the initial measures were lifted.

In Pune, officials plan to shut the city down next week after a string of days with record high new infections. In Aurangabad, an industrial town, an extended curfew has cleared streets and shut factories. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous, almost all businesses were ordered closed this weekend.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown in March, halting industry and ordering all 1.3 billion Indians to stay home, the hope was that the country might escape the worst. But in recent weeks, as officials began lifting restrictions to save a badly wounded economy, infections spread quickly.

Now, hospitals are reporting shortages of ventilators and other medical supplies. Doctors in New Delhi are making life-or-death choices as empty beds dwindle and patients are turned away, sometimes to their deaths. Recently, India’s caseload rose to the world’s third highest, with about 800,000 confirmed infections and more than 22,000 deaths.

Mahendra Purohit, who runs a dry goods store in Pune, one of the hardest-hit Indian cities, said that everyone he knew was wearing a mask and staying home as much as possible, but still, “The cases keep rising and rising.”

“Nobody knows when this will end,” he said. “Corona has changed everything for us.”

Other developments around the world:

  • In Hong Kong, a Department of Health spokeswoman said on Saturday that the latest outbreak in the semiautonomous Chinese territory was worse than an earlier peak in March due to a growing number of cases with unknown origins and growing clusters linked to housing estates, homes for older people and restaurants. Hong Kong recorded 29 new infections and 33 preliminary positive cases on Saturday, after a spike this week.

  • In Serbia, thousands of protesters demonstrated outside Parliament for the fourth consecutive night on Friday, ignoring a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. The rallies — set off by an announcement of since-aborted plans to reinstate a total lockdown in Belgrade, the capital — quickly evolved into protests over democratic backsliding in recent years under President Aleksandar Vucic, his approach to Kosovo, and the inconsistent and politicized ways in which his government has imposed social restrictions during the pandemic.

A Scottish pilot who became an emblem of Vietnam’s virus fight leaves the hospital.

A Scottish pilot in Vietnam who spent more than two months on life support after contracting Covid-19 and became the subject of nationwide public interest was released from the hospital on Saturday and headed to the airport for his return home.

The case of the pilot, Stephen Cameron, 43, has come to exemplify Vietnam’s all-out effort to beat the coronavirus, with the state news media in the Communist country covering his treatment extensively. Mr. Cameron was so seriously ill at one point that doctors contemplated a double lung transplant.

“I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Vietnamese people, the dedication and professionalism of the doctors,” Mr. Cameron said before his departure, in a video released by Cho Ray Hospital, where he was treated. “The odds say that I shouldn’t be here, and so I can only thank everybody here for doing what they have done.”

Vietnam has been among the most successful countries in tackling the virus. It is the largest country not to have reported a single Covid-19 death. No cases of local transmission have been reported since mid-April. And just 369 cases in total have been confirmed in the country of more than 97 million people.

Known as Patient 91, Mr. Cameron arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in February to take a job with Vietnam Airlines. He tested positive for the virus in March after visiting a bar that emerged as the center of Vietnam’s biggest coronavirus cluster.

Doctors at Cho Ray Hospital, in Ho Chi Minh City, said he was now free of the virus. But he faces a long recovery period after spending two months in a medically induced coma.

A Facebook video posted by the hospital on July 3 showed him lying in bed surrounded by doctors and other workers, who applauded his progress as he answered simple questions and tested the strength in his legs.

Berlin soccer team aims to win fans back with 20,000 free coronavirus tests for every game.

The German soccer club Union Berlin wants its fans back, and soon. And to do so, it plans to offer free coronavirus tests to more than 20,000 fans so they can fill up its stadium’s seats when the next season starts in September.

From setting up contact tracing to allowing a limited amount of fans in stands, clubs across Europe have studied various alternatives to let people watch their teams play in stadiums.

If carried out, Union Berlin’s plan would be a first. The club said ticket holders would have to test negative to the coronavirus within 24 hours of the game and bring the test’s result along with their ticket.

When most European countries were in the early stages of the pandemic, some soccer games in late February and early March contributed to the spread of the virus, before leagues suspended their season — or canceled it altogether.

With games now played behind closed doors, stadiums have been depleted of those who once made them roar and bristle with life. And for many, the financial loss caused by the absence of tickets sales is critical.

Most of Union Berlin’s stadium 22,000 seats are terraces on which fans stand close together, so social distancing is not feasible, the club’s president, Dirk Zingler, said in a statement announcing the free coronavirus tests.

“And if we aren’t allowed to sing and shout, then it’s not Union, ” he said.

Beyond the logistics and cost of providing over 20,000 tests several times a month, the club may run into other obstacles: Large gatherings are banned in Berlin until Oct. 24, and even with tests, crowds could prove risky.

In Switzerland, FC Zurich had to postpone two games after it said on Saturday that several members of its staff and at least one player had tested positive for the coronavirus, in what may await other teams as they finish the current season.

‘I couldn’t do anything’: Revisiting the suicide of an E.R. doctor in New York.

Credit…Chris Leary Photography

On an afternoon in early April, while New York City was in the throes of what would be the deadliest days of the pandemic, Dr. Lorna M. Breen found herself alone in the still of her apartment in Manhattan.

She picked up her phone and dialed her younger sister, Jennifer Feist, as she did nearly every day. Lately, their conversations had been bleak.

Dr. Breen, 49, supervised the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital in Upper Manhattan. The unit had become a brutal battleground, with supplies depleting at a distressing rate and doctors — herself among them — and nurses falling ill. The waiting room was perpetually overcrowded. The sick were dying unnoticed.

When Dr. Breen called this time, she sounded odd. Her voice was distant, as if she was in shock.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I can’t get out of the chair.” Her sister helped to get her into a psychiatric ward.

More than 50 family members, friends and current and former colleagues told Dr. Breen’s story to three reporters for The Times: Corina Knoll, Ali Watkins and Michael Rothfeld. They painted a picture of a consummate overachiever. Gifted, confident, clever. Unflappable.

She planned thrilling trips, joined a ski club, played cello in an orchestra, took salsa classes and attended Redeemer Presbyterian, a church that attracted high-achieving professionals. Once a year, she gathered all her social circles at a party on her rooftop.

In late February, when elected leaders were still assuring the public that the virus did not pose a serious threat, she became convinced it would catch hospitals off guard. And it did, inundating emergency rooms like hers with desperately ill people. There would be bodies every day. Ultimately, during the worst of the crisis, almost a quarter of the people who were admitted to the Allen to be treated for Covid-19 would die.

On April 26, Dr. Breen killed herself. Her family believes she should be counted among the pandemic’s casualties. That she was destroyed by the sheer number of people she could not save. That she was mortified to have cried for help.

“Lorna kept saying, ‘I think everybody knows I’m struggling,’” her sister said. “She was so embarrassed.”

New York is loosening a ban on nursing home visitations.

The New York State Department of Health announced on Friday that residents in certain nursing homes would be allowed to have visitors, after being all but cut off to outside guests during the early months of the pandemic.

New York originally barred visitors at nursing homes on March 13 over fears they would spread the virus among older people, whom epidemiologists consider to be at an elevated risk of developing life-threatening complications.

To date, about 42 percent of deaths in the United States have been linked to nursing homes and long-term care facilities, including more than 6,400 residents or staff members in New York. The toll in New York nursing homes accounts for more than one-tenth of the reported deaths in such facilities across the country.

Only those facilities that have gone without any new coronavirus cases among residents and staff for at least 28 days will be eligible to receive visitors, according to the announcement. Even then, only 10 percent of residents at eligible facilities will be allowed to host visitors at the same time.

Residents can have visits from up to two individuals at a time, one of whom must be at least 18 years of age. Visitors also will be asked to go through a familiar array of health screenings, including temperature checks at entrances, and to wear face coverings and socially distance while inside.

A spokeswoman for the Health Department said that roughly 150 of the more than 600 nursing homes in New York could soon qualify to accept visitors, according to a report from The Associated Press.

Delayed by the coronavirus, U.S. tax day is almost here.

Because of the pandemic, the Treasury Department postponed the traditional April 15 federal tax filing deadline until July 15 — and this time there is no wiggle room. Last month, the Internal Revenue Service said there would not be another blanket filing delay.

So for anyone who has not yet filed a return — or filed but not yet paid the taxes owed for 2019 — the deadline is Wednesday.

“It’s just like April 15, but in July,” said Cindy Hockenberry, the director of tax research and government relations for the National Association of Tax Professionals, a trade group.

Not long ago, Colombia and Latin America more broadly were in the middle of a history-making transformation: The scourge of inequality was shrinking like never before. Over the past 20 years, millions of families had marched out of poverty in one of the most unequal regions on Earth. The gap between rich and poor in Latin America fell to its lowest point on record.

Now, the pandemic is threatening to reverse those gains like nothing else in recent history, economists say, potentially upending politics and entire societies for years to come.

To document this critical moment, two Times reporters, Julie Turkewitz and Sofía Villamil, and a photographer, Federico Rios, traveled more than 1,000 miles across Colombia. Throughout the journey, they witnessed a swift collapse of prosperity.

Small businesses had closed for good. Universities were hemorrhaging students. Schools that had turned the children of construction workers into engineers were near collapse, unable to pay teachers. Farmers were burning their crops, ruined by disrupted markets. Parents began rationing medicine to their children, unsure when they would have money for more.

Yet while some families sold their cellphones to buy dinner, wealthy people retreated to countryside homes.

“It was never my dream to go backward,” said David Aguirre, 32, who had risen from a low-level bodyguard to the boss of his own strawberry farm. “The sacrifice of many people, days of work from 6 to 6 at night, rain, sun. And then — for it all to become nothing?”

The number of food-insecure New York City residents has doubled to about two million since the onset of the pandemic. But just as quickly as the need escalated, so, too, did new solutions.

Those who help feed the hungry are up early, clipboards in hand, checking on deliveries. They work the phones, begging for donations. They direct employees and a growing army of volunteers. And they try to keep their wits about them, despite the long hours, the long to-do lists and the long lines that are becoming all too common.

Red Rabbit, a Harlem-based company that was founded in 2005 by the Wall Street equities trader Rhys Powell to provide meals for schoolchildren, was serving 22,000 meals and snacks a day when schools were shut down in March.

Since then, Red Rabbit has started making meals for adults for the first time, with meals distributed to emergency workers, their children and others in the community. Now, 90,000 meals are prepared weekly.

And in late March, the Rev. Andrew Marko, the pastor of Evangel Church in Queens, converted the 100,000-square-foot building that houses the church and shuttered school into a mammoth operation to feed those in need.

Pastor Marko is constantly on the phone to chase down donations. “I’m the food crier,” he said, marveling at how the effort has taken on a life of its own. “I feel like I’m on the back of a speedboat and not sure who’s driving.”

Yet the results are profound.

“We’ve moved almost three million pounds of food since the crisis started,” Pastor Marko said.

How to experience cultural institutions from home.

Museums and production companies are offering many online options.

Reporting was contributed by Tara Siegel Bernard, Pam Belluck, John Branch, Benedict Carey, Jenny Carolina González, Erica L. Green, Dana Goldstein, Patrick Kingsley, Corina Knoll, Ron Lieber, Apoorva Mandavilli, Jane Margolies, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Zach Montague, Richard C. Paddock, Federico Rios, Michael Rothfeld, Kai Schultz, Eliza Shapiro, Mitch Smith, Farah Stockman, Alix Strauss, Julie Turkewitz, Sofía Villamil and Ali Watkins.


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