Coronavirus Live Updates: Virus Resurgence Threatens U.S. Economy


In the U.S., renewed lockdowns, closed schools and uncertain federal support cloud hopes of a rapid rebound.

The United States economy is headed for a tumultuous autumn, with the threat of closed schools, renewed government lockdowns, empty stadiums and an uncertain amount of federal support for businesses and unemployed workers all clouding hopes for a rapid rebound from recession.

For months, the prevailing wisdom among investors, Trump administration officials and many economic forecasters was that, after plunging into recession this spring, the country’s economy would accelerate in late summer and take off in the fall as the virus receded.

But failure to suppress a resurgence of confirmed infections is threatening to choke the recovery and push the country back into a recessionary spiral — one that could inflict long-term damage on workers and businesses, unless Congress reconsiders the scale of federal aid that may be required in the months to come.

The looming economic pain was evident on Tuesday as big companies forecast gloomy months ahead. Delta Air Lines said it was cutting back plans to add flights in August and beyond, citing flagging consumer demand. The nation’s biggest banks warned that they were setting aside billions of dollars to cover anticipated losses as customers fail to pay their mortgages and other loans in the months to come.

Some companies that used small-business loans to retain or rehire workers are now beginning to lay off employees as those funds run out while business activity remains depressed. Expanded benefits for unemployed workers, which research shows have been propping up consumer spending throughout the spring and early summer, are scheduled to expire at the end of July, while more than 18 million Americans continue to claim unemployment.

“Our assumption has to be that we’re going into re-lockdown in the fall,” said Karl Smith, the vice president of federal policy at the conservative Tax Foundation in Washington.

The new instructions are contained in a little-noticed document posted this week on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website. From now on, H.H.S., and not the C.D.C., will collect daily reports about the patients that each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic.

Officials said the change should help ease data gathering and assist the White House coronavirus task force in allocating scarce supplies like personal protective gear and the drug remdesivir.

Hospital officials want to streamline reporting, saying it will relieve them from responding to requests from multiple federal agencies, though some say the C.D.C. — an agency that prizes its scientific independence — should be in charge of gathering the information.

“The C.D.C. is the right agency to be at the forefront of collecting the data,” said Dr. Bala Hota, the chief analytics officer at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Public health experts have long expressed concern that the administration is politicizing science and undermining the C.D.C.; four of the agency’s former directors, spanning both Republican and Democratic administrations, said as much in an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Washington Post. The data collection shift reinforced those fears.

“Centralizing control of all data under the umbrella of an inherently political apparatus is dangerous and breeds distrust,” said Nicole Lurie, who served as assistant secretary for preparedness and response under former President Barack Obama. “It appears to cut off the ability of agencies like C.D.C. to do its basic job.”

Responding to a recent spike in new coronavirus cases in Japan’s capital, Tokyo, the city government on Wednesday raised its pandemic alert level to “red,” its highest, although the caution appeared to change little in terms of behavior.

Tokyo recorded two consecutive daily records last week, with a peak of 243 cases Friday. So far, the metropolis of 14 million has reported a total of just under 8,200 cases and 325 deaths since February.

Officials had debated whether to raise Tokyo’s alert level, given that a large proportion of the new cases were among younger people who had only mild symptoms, Dr. Norio Ohmagari, director of infectious diseases at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine, told reporters.

In April, when Tokyo was put under a state of emergency, more older people were infected and a higher proportion suffered serious illness and required hospitalization and ventilators.

“This time is quite different from the last wave,” Dr. Ohmagari said. He said that while 40 percent of the new cases were among people in their 20s, some infections were now being detected among people in their 60s and 70s, as well as in children under 10.

Dr. Ohmagari said that it appeared many people were becoming infected after visiting nightlife venues, but that infections were also being detected in offices, restaurants, nursing homes, day care centers and kindergartens, as well as in multiple wards around Tokyo.

“We cannot deny the fact that we have higher numbers,” he said. “We have to say the infection is spreading.”

Still, the government took no concrete action corresponding with the raised alert. Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, appealed to residents to refrain from visiting nightlife venues or restaurants that “don’t take enough measures to prevent infections” but made no mention of asking any businesses to close down as she did during the state of emergency.

Tokyo’s move came as the authorities in Okinawa reported an additional 36 infections at a United States Marine base on the southern island, bringing the number of cases at U.S. bases on the island to 136 since March.

Morgue trucks, testing triage: States respond to an increasing number of deaths.

After weeks of declining death figures from the coronavirus, several states that are seeing alarming increases are weighing measures that might have seemed unlikely just weeks ago. More economically painful shutdowns. Refrigerated morgue trucks. Symptomatic patients getting testing priority.

More than 900 coronavirus deaths were announced in the United States on Tuesday, including single-day records in Alabama, Florida and Utah.

In Florida, which reported a daily record of 132 deaths from the coronavirus, a group of mayors from Miami-Dade County, the center of the state’s crisis, warned Gov. Ron DeSantis that time is running out to avoid another painful economic closure.

“There is a significant amount of pressure for us to shut down,” Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami told Mr. DeSantis at an event in the city. “We have between one week and four weeks to get this thing under control, or we will have to take some aggressive measures.”

Mr. DeSantis, a Republican who notably wore a mask while speaking indoors, tried to acknowledge how difficult the pandemic has been for Floridians, adding that “people are apprehensive.”

Since June 11, the day the Republican National Convention was officially moved from North Carolina to Florida, the average number of cases reported daily in Florida has grown eightfold.

Republican officials are planning to move much of their national convention in Jacksonville next month from an indoor arena to an outdoor venue. It’s still unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the events, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.

In some states, officials have responded to the surging virus by putting refrigerated trucks on standby, in order to increase morgue space. In Texas, where the death toll is sharply rising, officials said the trucks were being readied because hospital morgues were filling up.

In Arizona, two hospital systems in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, also plan to use refrigerated trucks. The mayor of Phoenix said the county morgue is near capacity.

The preparations have only just started, and the situation has not reached the same level of urgency it did in New York City during the early stages of the pandemic, when the city had set up 45 mobile morgues and allowed crematories to work around the clock.

Infection rates are also increasing, with Texas and California reporting single-day records of more than 10,000 cases on Tuesday. Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma also set single-day case records.

As of Tuesday evening, more than 64,000 cases of the coronavirus had been announced across the United States, the second-highest daily total of the pandemic.

In California, which has seen a sharp increase in new coronavirus cases, officials announced a rollback on its testing guidelines that will now prioritize patients who display symptoms of the virus.

Reporting was contributed by Ben Casselman, Manny Fernandez, J. David Goodman, Maggie Haberman, Makiko Inoue, David Montgomery, Motoko Rich, Mitch Smith, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jim Tankersley and Hisako Ueno.



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