Covid-19 News: Live Updates – The New York Times
Covid-19 News: Live Updates – The New York Times
Children across the U.S. have faced chaotic school reopenings, and New York may be next.
With the planned first day of school in New York City rapidly approaching, Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing mounting pressure from the city’s teachers, principals and even members of his own administration to delay the start of in-person instruction to give educators more time to prepare.
Mr. de Blasio has been hoping to reopen the nation’s largest school system on a part-time basis for the city’s 1.1 million schoolchildren on Sept. 10. No other big-city mayor is attempting reopening on such a scale, and many smaller districts that have already reopened have had to change course significantly almost immediately after students returned.
In Arizona, where the virus surged earlier this summer, many students started school on Monday. But classes in the J.O. Combs Unified School District, about an hour outside of Phoenix, were canceled through Wednesday after a significant number of teachers and staff members called in sick to protest in-person classes, and it was unclear when and how the school year may start there.
Near Oklahoma City, an infected student at Westmoore High School attended class last week before his quarantine period was over, NBC News reported, saying the child’s parents told the school that they had “miscalculated” the timing. Twenty-two students who came in contact with that student or another at the school who tested positive have been quarantined.
And in Cherokee County, Georgia, which by the middle of last week had nearly 1,200 students and educational staff ordered to quarantine, a third high school closed to in-person learning this week after 500 of its students were quarantined and 25 tested positive for the virus.
Still, the closest comparison to New York may be Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest school system. There, public schools on Monday began a sweeping program to test hundreds of thousands of students and teachers — even though, for the time being, the Los Angeles Unified School District will begin school online.
If New York is able to reopen schools safely, it would be an extraordinary turnaround for a city that was the global epicenter of the pandemic just a few months ago. Schools are the key to the city’s long path back to normalcy: opening classrooms would help jump-start the struggling economy by allowing more parents to return to work and would provide desperately needed services for tens of thousands of vulnerable students.
But the push to reopen on time is now facing its most serious obstacle yet: The city’s principals are questioning the city’s readiness.
“We are now less than one month away from the first day of school and still without sufficient answers to many of the important safety and instructional questions we’ve raised,” Mark Cannizzaro, president of the city’s principals’ union, wrote in a letter last week.
New York City has a virus transmission rate so low that it is closer to that of South Korea than those of many other American cities, and there is agreement among many public health experts that the city’s infection rate is low enough to reopen at least some schools.
The city’s public school principals say they do not know how many of their students will report to buildings on the planned first day, because there is no deadline for families to switch from hybrid learning to remote-only. So far, about 30 percent of city families have said they will start the year remotely, but that number could change significantly.
That has made it all but impossible for principals to plan their class schedules, and to determine how many teachers they will need to staff remote instruction, in-person learning or both.
And though the city has begun to ship personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to schools, and has made strides in preparing many of its aging buildings for reopening, there are lingering questions about how many classrooms will have proper ventilation, and about how frequently staff and students will be tested after buildings open.
The presentation at times resembled an online awards show, and it offered a vivid illustration of how both the pandemic and widespread opposition to President Trump have upended the country’s politics.
Capping the evening was an urgent plea from Michelle Obama, the former first lady, for voters to mobilize in overpowering force to turn Mr. Trump out of office and elect the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Breaking through the stilted online format, Mrs. Obama provided the emotional high point of the night as she confronted the president directly. “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment.”
Perhaps the most searing critique of Mr. Trump on Monday came not from an elected official but from Kristin Urquiza, a young woman whose father, a Trump supporter, died after contracting the virus. Speaking briefly and in raw terms about her loss, Ms. Urquiza said of her father, “His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life.”
A large federal study that found an antiviral drug, remdesivir, can hasten the recovery in hospitalized Covid-19 patients has begun a new phase of investigation.
Now researchers will examine whether adding another drug, beta interferon — which mainly kills viruses but can also tame inflammation — would improve remdesivir’s effects and speed recovery even more.
So far, remdesivir, an experimental drug, has received emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration to treat hospitalized Covid-19 patients. In a large clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, remdesivir was shown to modestly shorten recovery time, by four days, on average, but it did not reduce deaths.
The additional drug, beta interferon, has already been approved for treatment of multiple sclerosis, which takes advantage of its anti-inflammatory effect.
The U.S. trial, called ACCT, is designed to move quickly. Known as an adaptive trial, it is a race between treatments. It tests one treatment against another, and, when results are in, the drug that won becomes the control drug for the next phase, in which it is tested against a different drug.
The new phase is the study’s third. A total of 1,000 patients will receive either remdesivir and a placebo or remdesivir and beta interferon.
Interferon is given as an injection. Remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences, is given as an intravenous infusion.
Faced with a recent resurgence of coronavirus cases, officials in France have made mask-wearing mandatory in widening areas of Paris and other cities across the country, pleading with people not to let down their guard and jeopardize the hard-won gains made against the virus during a two-month lockdown this spring.
The signs of a new wave of infection emerged over the summer as people began resuming much of their pre-coronavirus lives, traveling across France and socializing in cafes, restaurants and parks. Many, especially the young, have visibly relaxed their vigilance.
In recent days, France has recorded about 3,000 new infections every day, roughly double the figure at the beginning of the month, and the authorities are investigating an increasing number of clusters.
Thirty percent of the new infections are in young adults, ages 15 to 44, according to a recent report. Since they are less likely to develop serious forms of the illness, deaths and the number of patients in intensive care remain at a fraction of what they were at the height of the pandemic. Still, officials are not taking any chances.
“The indicators are bad, the signals are worrying, and the situation is deteriorating,” Jérôme Salomon, the French health ministry director, told the radio station France Inter last week. “The fate of the epidemic is in our hands.”
France has suffered more than 30,400 deaths from the virus — one of the world’s worst tolls — and experienced an economically devastating lockdown from mid-March to mid-May. Thanks to the lockdown, however, France succeeded in stopping the spread of the virus and lifted most restrictions at the start of summer.
The course of the pandemic in Europe has followed a somewhat similar trend, with Spain also reporting new local clusters. But important disparities exist among countries. In the past week, as France reported more than 16,000 new cases, Britain reported 7,000, and Italy 3,000, according to data collected by The New York Times.
Hong Kong’s latest coronavirus outbreak appears to be tapering off, but the port city’s enhanced coronavirus testing has revealed a new cluster among its dock workers.
As Hong Kong deals with a third wave of infections, it is ramping up testing of workers whose jobs place them at heightened risk of infection. As of Monday, 57 dockside laborers were among 65 cases linked to the city’s Kwai Tsing Container Terminals.
Some workers fear that cramped conditions in the dorms, some of which hold up to 20 people, could accelerate the spread of the virus.
Two of the Hong Kong dock workers who tested positive this week had been living temporarily in cramped port dormitories fashioned from shipping containers. They were trying to avoid traveling to their homes in Shenzhen, a city in the Chinese mainland — a trip that would have required them to quarantine upon their return.
On Monday, the Union of Hong Kong Dockers called on container companies to expand their accommodation for employees and to hire workers directly instead of outsourcing recruitment to smaller firms.
In 2016, Hong Kong reported that its maritime port industry employed 86,000 people and accounted for 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product.
After battling back two waves of coronavirus infections, Hong Kong kept its new cases in the single digits for months. But cases began to spike again last month, to more than 100 per day, in part because officials had exempted seafarers, airline crews and others from mandatory quarantine.
The city has since reimposed strict social-distancing measures, and health officials have reported fewer than 100 infections a day for more than two weeks.
In other developments around the world:
Officials in New Zealand on Tuesday pushed back against President Trump’s assertion that the remote Pacific country was “having a big surge.” New Zealand, where the national election has been delayed from September to October because of a growing cluster in Auckland, has reported 22 deaths and fewer than 1,700 cases during the entire pandemic. “I’m not concerned about people misinterpreting our status,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
After a surge in infections in the past week, South Korea on Tuesday tightened social-distancing rules in the Seoul metropolitan area, banning all gatherings of more than 50 people indoors and more than 100 outdoors and shutting down high-risk facilities such as nightclubs, karaoke rooms and buffet restaurants. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun also said that churches must switch to online prayer services.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis of the Bahamas on Monday extended the country’s latest national lockdown for seven days and announced greater restrictions on the island of New Providence, which includes the capital, Nassau, amid a surge in cases and worries about strains on the country’s health care system. The archipelago nation has had 1,329 cases since the virus emerged there in March, almost all of them since international tourists were allowed to return on July 1. Mr. Minnis said in a national address that too many people had been defying lockdown orders by visiting their friends and family.
Barraged by protests from angry teachers, parents and students, the British government has abandoned the improvised college-entrance exam system it cobbled together for schools in England after the pandemic made traditional testing impossible.
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Reporting was contributed by Alexander Burns, Stephen Castle, Choe Sang-Hun, Ethan Hauser, Jennifer Jett, Gina Kolata, Jonathan Martin, Tiffany May, Constant Méheut, Norimitsu Onishi and Eliza Shapiro.