Almost 3 million people file new unemployment claims.
The U.S. government said Thursday almost three million people filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, underlining the continuing toll the pandemic is having on American workers.
While the weekly tally of new claims has been declining since late March, the latest report pushed the eight-week total to more than 36 million, a number that would have been unthinkable before the crisis shut down much of the American economy.
The report comes a day after the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, warned that the United States was experiencing an economic hit “without modern precedent” and risked long-term damage if lawmakers don’t do more to prevent long-term joblessness.
State unemployment insurance and emergency federal relief were supposed to tide households over during the shutdown. But several states have a backlog of claims, and applicants continue to complain of being unable to reach overloaded state agencies.
More than half of those applying for unemployment benefits in recent weeks have been unsuccessful, according to a poll for The New York Times in early May by the online research firm SurveyMonkey.
And 13 states have yet to fully put in place the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that Congress passed in March to help freelancers, self-employed individuals and other workers not normally eligible for state jobless benefits.
A whistle-blower will testify before a House committee today.
The whistle-blower who was ousted as the head of a federal research agency plans to deliver a stark warning to Congress Thursday morning: If the United States does not step up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, Americans will suffer “unprecedented illness and fatalities,” and “2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history.”
Dr. Rick Bright, who was abruptly dismissed from his job as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development authority last month after objecting to the widespread use of malaria drugs promoted by Mr. Trump, will testify at 10 a.m. before the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The hearing will be live-streamed on this page. Here’s what to watch for:
What will Dr. Bright say? According to prepared remarks, he plans to tell the panel that the Trump administration “missed early warning signals,” and that his bosses at the Department of Health and Human Services were “dismissive about my dire predictions” when he pushed them to ramp up production of masks, respirators and other critical supplies. He will also say that officials at the Health and Human Services Department put “politics” and “cronyism” ahead of science in awarding contract. The agency strongly denies his accusations.
Why is he testifying now? Representative Anna Eshoo, Democrat of California and the subcommittee chairwoman, said she intended to call Dr. Bright as a witness after he filed his whistle-blower complaint. The complaint is being investigated by the Office of Special Counsel, which has recommended that Dr. Bright be reinstated for 45 days while it conducts its inquiry.
Who else will testify? Mike Bowen, the executive vice president of Prestige Ameritech, a company that makes protective masks, will also appear. Mr. Bowen has been pushing federal officials for more than a decade to stock up on American-made masks, instead of relying on China. Dr. Bright had been sympathetic to his efforts.
How will lawmakers react? Democrats are likely to draw out Dr. Bright on his interactions with Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, who met with Dr. Bright at the White House in early February and drafted a memo warning of the risks of a pandemic and urging White House officials to follow through on Dr. Bright’s ideas. (Mr. Navarro declined an invitation to testify.) Republicans are likely to paint Dr. Bright as a disgruntled employee.
Experts warn of a long struggle ahead and a virus that ‘may never go away.’
The cautions came from all corners but pointed in one direction: The struggle against the virus would be long and the economic consequences lasting.
“It is important to put this on the table: This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” said Mike Ryan, the head of the W.H.O. emergency response team.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci told a Senate panel this week that a vaccine for the virus would almost certainly not be ready in time for the new school year and urged caution in the face of a pathogen that continued to surprise and baffle the world’s leading scientists.
“I think we better be careful, if we are not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” Dr. Fauci said. “Children in general do much, much better than adults and the elderly and particularly those with underlying conditions. But I am very careful and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease. And that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.”
The warnings, like so many aspects of the response to the crisis in America, were quickly swept up in dysfunctional political discourse and variously disputed, distorted or dismissed — including by President Trump himself.
The president, whose administration is forecasting a rapid economic rebound as it pushes states to ease restrictions on public life, pressed to reopen the country’s schools and criticized Dr. Fauci’s testimony.
“I was surprised by his answer,” Mr. Trump told reporters when asked about the testimony of the government’s leading public health expert. “To me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
During an interview on Thursday on Fox Business, Mr. Trump said he expected a vaccine to be available by the end of the year, a timeline health experts have advised is unlikely. He said the military would help with distribution, though it was unclear what he meant.
“Our military is now being mobilized, so at the end of the year, we’re going to be able to give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly,” Mr. Trump said.
One of the most progressive lawmakers in the House and one of the most conservative in the Senate, staring down a pandemic-driven unemployment rate at Great Depression levels, have come to the same conclusion: It’s time for the federal government to cover workers’ salaries.
The progressive, Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, and the conservative, Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, are both making the case to their party’s leaders that guaranteed income programs should be part of the federal relief effort.
“We have a situation where people and families in every part of the country are facing this unprecedented crisis, and they are looking for relief,” Ms. Jayapal said in an interview.
“This is a proposal with broad support that should be taken seriously,” she added. “What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for unemployment to reach 50 percent?”
By Wednesday, progressive groups including Indivisible and MoveOn had signaled their support for the legislation even without the paycheck measure. It was on track to pass the House on Friday.
But the revolt reflected the divide among Democrats about how far to go in building a government backstop for workers’ livelihoods.
Mr. Hawley, the Missouri Republican, has introduced a proposal that would cover 80 percent of employers’ payroll costs up to the median wage, about $49,000 a year. A companion bill that Mr. Hawley introduced goes further, providing families and single parents making less than $100,000 with a monthly check for the duration of the crisis.
“Let’s not overthink this,” Mr. Hawley said in unveiling his bill. “These families need relief — now — to pay bills that are coming due, make those emergency grocery runs and get ready for potential medical bills. Let’s get it to them.”
The moves have received a chilly reception from Republican leaders. But support for such ideas on both ends of the ideological spectrum signals how far the political debate has shifted in just a few months.
Hours after a court ruling on Wednesday night appeared to immediately end statewide provisions that have required many Wisconsin residents to stay home for weeks, the state’s governor urged citizens to abide by the rules anyway.
“Just because the Supreme Court says it’s okay to open,” the governor, Tony Evers, wrote on Twitter, “doesn’t mean that science does.”
The plea to residents reflected the sense of frustration expressed by Mr. Evers and others supportive of his stay-at-home order after a 4-3 ruling by the conservative-dominated Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected his extension of restrictions. In doing so, the court sided with Republican legislators who are part of a growing nationwide effort to use the courts to overturn restrictions imposed as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr. Evers had extended the prohibition on most travel and operations of nonessential businesses until May 26. But the court ruled that Wisconsin’s top health official had not followed the proper process in setting the strict limits for residents.
“This turns the state to chaos,” Mr. Evers said in an interview.
Hours later, in a series of tweets, he tried to make the case that the restrictions in place over the last few weeks were still in the state’s best interest, and that people should continue to abide by them.
But many bars reopened on Wednesday night, and social media posts suggested that some of them — from one in Platteville, in southwestern Wisconsin, to another in suburban Milwaukee — were crowded with revelers.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin, a trade group, had celebrated the ruling, telling bar owners: “We will get you a more detailed summary of the decision, however, according to the ruling you can OPEN IMMEDIATELY!”
When Jamie Williams decided to reopen her East Texas tattoo studio last week in defiance of the state’s coronavirus restrictions, she asked Philip Archibald for help. He showed up with his dog Zeus, his friends and his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
Mr. Archibald established an armed perimeter in the parking lot outside Crash-N-Burn Tattoo, secured by five men with military-style rifles, tactical shotguns, camouflage vests and walkie-talkies. One of them already had a large tattoo of his own. “We the People,” it said.
“I think it should be a business’s right if they want to close or open,” said Mr. Archibald, 29, an online fitness trainer from the Dallas area who lately has made it his personal mission to help Texas business owners challenge government orders to keep their doors shut. “What is coming to arrest a person who is opening their business according to their constitutional rights? That’s confrontation.”
While Gov. Greg Abbott this month allowed a wide range of malls, restaurants and other businesses to reopen after a coronavirus lockdown, bars, salons, tattoo parlors and other enterprises where social distancing is more difficult were ordered to remain closed for a longer period.
The showy displays of local firepower are creating a dilemma for the authorities, who face public demands for enforcement of social-distancing guidelines, but also strong pushback from conservatives in some parts of the state who are convinced that the restrictions go too far.
In the chaotic days of late March, as it became clear that New York was facing a catastrophic outbreak of the coronavirus, aides to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo quietly inserted a provision on Page 347 of New York’s final, voluminous budget bill.
Many lawmakers were unaware of the language when they approved the budget a few days later. But it provided unusual legal protections for an influential industry that has been devastated by the crisis: nursing home operators.
The measure, lobbied for by industry representatives, shielded nursing homes from many lawsuits over their failure to protect residents from death or sickness caused by the coronavirus.
Now, weeks later, more than 5,300 residents of nursing homes in New York are believed to have died from the outbreak, and their relatives are finding that because of the provision, they may not be able to pursue legal action against the homes’ operators over allegations of neglect. New York is one of at least 15 states that have granted some form of legal protection to nursing homes and other health care facilities since the beginning of the pandemic.
“They can’t just shrug their shoulders and say, ‘It’s a pandemic,’” said Vivian Rivera-Zayas, who plans to sue the Long Island nursing home that, she said, waited until her mother, who had tested positive for Covid-19, was gasping for breath with a collapsed lung before transferring her to a hospital next door. “There has to be accountability.”
As concerns mount over children afflicted with a potentially deadly inflammatory condition, a new study shed light on the condition’s distinctive characteristics and provided the strongest evidence yet that the syndrome is linked to coronavirus.
In the new study, published on Wednesday in the journal Lancet, doctors in Italy compared a series of 10 cases of the illness with cases of a similar rare condition in children called Kawasaki disease.
The authors found that over the five years before the coronavirus pandemic — January 2015 to mid-February 2020 — 19 children with Kawasaki disease were treated at Hospital Papa Giovanni XXIII in the province of Bergamo, which has an advanced pediatric department.
But during the two months from Feb. 18 to April 20 alone, the hospital, located at the center of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, treated 10 children with similar hyper-inflammatory symptoms. Eight of them tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.
Ten cases in two months — a much higher rate of incidence than Kawasaki disease cases, which occurred at a pace of about one every three months — suggests a cluster that was driven by the coronavirus pandemic, especially since overall hospital admissions during this time were much lower than usual, the authors said.
None of the 10 children died, but their symptoms were more severe than those experienced by the children with Kawasaki disease. They were much more likely to have heart complications, and five of them exhibited shock, which did not occur in any of the Kawasaki cases. They had lower counts of platelets and a type of white blood cell, typical of Covid-19 patients defending against the infection. And more of the children with the new syndrome needed treatment with steroids in addition to the immunoglobulin treatment that both they and the Kawasaki patients received.
Children who do not have the inflammatory syndrome can also become seriously ill, with respiratory problems.
Another new study paints the most detailed picture yet of American children who were treated in intensive care units throughout the United States as the pandemic was taking hold.
None of the children in the study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, were stricken by the new mysterious inflammatory syndrome. They suffered from the virus’s primary line of attack: the severe respiratory problems that have afflicted tens of thousands of American adults.
The study looked at 48 cases from 14 hospitals, in patients up to age 21, during late March and early April. Two of them died. Eighteen were placed on ventilators and two of them remain on the breathing machines more than a month later, said Dr. Lara S. Shekerdemian, chief of critical care at Texas Children’s Hospital and an author of the study.
Over all, the study both reinforces the evidence that only a small percentage of children will be severely affected by the virus and confirms that some can become devastatingly ill.
Fall will be quiet this year at San Diego State University. No big lecture classes. No parking lots packed with commuting students. No campus hubbub around Greek life.
But 20 minutes up the freeway at the University of California, San Diego, things could look very different, with tens of thousands of students streaming back to campus, if only to single dorm rooms and socially distanced classrooms.
Across the country this fall, college life is likely to vary from campus to campus — a patchwork that mirrors what is happening in states and communities, as some move toward widespread reopening and others keep their economies mostly closed.
Like the rest of the country, colleges face formidable risks, both human and economic. Students and faculty members must be kept safe and healthy, but so must a segment of the economy that employs nearly four million people and operates as the nation’s predominant social mobility engine.
Higher education experts said the decision on whether to hold in-person classes in the fall would most likely depend on a number of factors, including the type of institution, location, the size of the student body and funding.
“I think we are going to see a lot of variation,” said Laura W. Perna, a professor at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.
When is it safe to go back to the gym?
After a forced period of inactivity, many are wondering whether it is wise to return to shared exercise bikes, weights and treadmills. By their very nature, public athletic facilities tend to be breeding grounds for germs, but there are things you can do to mitigate the risk of infection if you want to get a workout in.
‘I have given up.’ Readers share their stories of parenting in quarantine.
What does parenting burnout look like during a pandemic? After a column by Farhad Manjoo on the subject, thousands of readers told us about their “new normal.” For many, excessive screen time was the least of their worries.
“Our goal is to survive,” one reader from California said. “No divorce, no getting fired and no children running away from home. If we can do that, I’ll consider us a success story.”
“My house is in shambles,” wrote another. “When I have to do work meetings I point the camera to the highest point possible to hide the chaos on the floor.”
“The threat of the virus,” said a third, “seems minuscule compared to our mental and physical exhaustion.”
Global updates from Times correspondents around the world.
A commercial extolling Chinese youth, showed online and on state-run television, provoked an immediate nationwide backlash.
Reporting was contributed by Patricia Cohen, Pam Belluck, Marc Santora, Catie Edmondson, Manny Fernandez, David Montgomery, Kim Barker, Karen Barrow, Amy Julia Harris, Rachel L. Harris, Shawn Hubler, Jesse McKinley, Lisa Tarchak, Neil Vigdor and Sheryl Gay Stolberg.