Live Coronavirus News Updates and Analysis

With case counts rising, U.S. leaders push stricter measures.

Across the United States, leaders grappling with surging caseloads and a rising death toll have introduced new measures intended to curb the coronavirus outbreak’s severity, some in places where the virus had looked to be in retreat.

On Friday, for the second time, more than 70,000 coronavirus cases were announced in the United States, according to a New York Times database. A day earlier, the country set a record with 75,600 new cases, the 11th time in the past month that the daily record had been broken.

The outbreak is so widespread that 18 states have been placed in a so-called red zone because they have more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people per week, according to an unpublished report distributed this week by the White House coronavirus task force, which urged many states to take stricter steps to contain the spread.

The states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah — constitute more than a third of the country.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new rules 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. The state also announced a sweeping rollback this week of plans to reopen businesses.

More than 10,100 cases were announced on Friday in California, the state’s second-highest daily total yet.

In Florida, where more than 11,400 cases and more than 125 deaths were reported on Friday, some localities added curfews. With its hospitals reaching capacity, Broward County imposed a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Friday. Curfews were also imposed in the city of Miami Beach and the rest of Miami-Dade County.

Noting the rise in cases, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a House committee that he thought Congress should consider automatically forgiving all small loans that had been given to businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.

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

Some of the states in the red zone are not following the unpublished report’s recommendations for curbing the spread.

With cases rising across Georgia, the report had some clear recommendations, including: “Mandate statewide wearing of cloth face coverings outside the home.”

But while Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, a Republican, 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.

“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 report on the red zone was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington, and was later obtained by The New York Times.

The report called for mask mandates in Alabama and Arkansas, and those states’ governors, who are both Republicans, issued new orders this week. More than half of the United States now has some form of mask requirement in place.

National and local officials in China began organizing elaborate measures on Saturday for a potentially long fight against the pandemic in the country’s far western Xinjiang region while confirming 23 additional coronavirus infections there.

The government flew 21 lab technicians and their testing equipment on Saturday from three hospitals in Wuhan, where the virus emerged late last year, to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, state media reported. All of Xinjiang’s officially confirmed cases this month were in Urumqi.

Residential compounds across the city were put under lockdown by Friday morning. The authorities have now imposed strict price controls on food and other necessities, and they have taken precautions to prevent any breakdown in water and electricity supplies, measures seemingly designed to reassure residents that they would be safe in their homes.

China Central Television reported on Saturday evening that Urumqi residents would be allowed to leave the city only if they could prove the journey was necessary. Residents would be required to take a coronavirus test, and receive a negative result, before traveling.

The 23 cases confirmed on Saturday included 12 that were asymptomatic. The new infections followed 16 cases confirmed on Friday and one on Thursday.

Xinjiang is the center of China’s broad crackdown on predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, with as many as a million of them rounded up in barbed-wire camps with guard towers. The Chinese government has defended the camps as vocational training centers created to combat religious extremism, prevent terrorism and teach job skills.

In other news around the world:

  • Iran started enforcing new restrictions in Tehran on Saturday, banning large gatherings and closing cafes, gyms and some other facilities, as it sees a surge of coronavirus cases that health officials say is even worse than the first wave that hit the capital in March.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain outlined a road map on Friday to ease lockdown restrictions and to contain the spread of the virus in the coming months, but added that there wouldn’t be any “significant return to normality” until November at the earliest.

  • In Australia, the state of Victoria reported 217 new cases on Saturday, after a record 428 cases on Friday.

Early in the 20th century, tuberculosis ravaged American cities, taking a particular toll on the poor and the young.

In 1907, two Rhode Island doctors, Mary Packard and Ellen Stone, had an idea for mitigating transmission among children. Following education trends in Germany, they proposed the creation of an open-air schoolroom.

Their experiment was a success by nearly every measure — none of the children got sick. Within two years, there were 65 open-air schools around the country, either in buildings with large windows on every side or simply held outside.

Little of this sort of ingenuity has greeted the effort to reopen schools during the current public-health crisis. The Trump administration has insisted that schools fully open this fall, with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposing no plan for how to do that safely.

One of the few things we know about the coronavirus with any degree of certainty is that the risk of contracting it diminishes outside. A review of 7,000 cases in China recorded only one instance of fresh-air transmission. Yet there has been no concerted effort to move as much teaching as possible outdoors.

Almost daily, President Trump and leaders worldwide say they are racing to develop a coronavirus vaccine. But the repeated assurances of near-miraculous speed are exacerbating a problem that has largely been overlooked and one that public health experts say must be addressed now: persuading people to actually get the shot once it’s available.

A growing number of polls finds so many people saying they would not get a coronavirus vaccine that its potential to shut down the pandemic could be in jeopardy. Mistrust of vaccines has been on the rise in the United States in recent years, but the rapid push to develop a coronavirus vaccine has generated a different strain of wariness.

“The bottom line is I have absolutely no faith in the F.D.A. and in the Trump administration,” said Joanne Barnes, a retired fourth-grade teacher from Fairbanks, Alaska, who said she was otherwise scrupulously up-to-date on getting her shots. “I just feel like there’s a rush to get a vaccine out, so I’m very hesitant.”

A poll in May by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that only about half of Americans said they would be willing to get a coronavirus vaccine. One in five said they would refuse, and 31 percent were uncertain.

Terry Strada breathed a sigh of relief last summer when a military judge finally set a date to begin the death penalty trial of five men accused of planning the attacks that killed her husband and 2,975 other people on Sept. 11, 2001.

So did the family members of other victims who have attended the slow-moving pretrial proceedings at the war crimes court at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and were counting on the trial to begin early next year.

The pandemic has dashed those hopes. With the proceedings halted, there is a real possibility that the trial will not even have begun by the 20th anniversary of the attacks.

“The calamity of Covid is definitely disrupting our personal lives and our hopes for this trial to come to fruition,” said Mrs. Strada, whose husband, Tom Strada, a bond broker, was killed at the World Trade Center.

Jury trials across the country have been put on hold as courts struggle with how to safely assemble a judge, witnesses, victims, lawyers and defendant during a pandemic before a reliable vaccine is developed and distributed.

The challenge is especially great at Guantánamo because all the participants in the trial except the prisoners have to travel there from across the country, flying in together from Washington, D.C., aboard a military charter airplane.

No one knows exactly why Thailand has been spared the pandemic’s worst effects. Is it the social distancing embedded in Thai culture? The early adoption of face masks, combined with a robust health care system? Or perhaps the country’s relatively low rates of pre-existing conditions?

One thing is certain: Despite an influx of foreign visitors early in the year from countries badly hit by the coronavirus, Thailand has recorded fewer than 3,240 cases and 58 deaths. And as of Thursday, there had been no cases of local transmission for about seven weeks.

It didn’t always look so upbeat. In January, Thailand confirmed the world’s first case of the coronavirus outside China — in a tourist from Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the outbreak is believed to have begun.

Another wave of infections was set off by people arriving from Japan, Europe and the United States. But after a lockdown was enforced in March, shuttering businesses and schools, domestic transmissions subsided. All of Thailand’s recent cases have been among people who arrived from overseas.

The country’s tourism-dependent economy, though, has been battered.

In April, Thailand banned almost all incoming flights amid a tightening lockdown. Holidaymakers stopped coming to Bangkok, once the world’s most visited city. The Thai tourism and sports ministry estimates that 60 percent of hospitality businesses could close by the end of the year.

The country’s large population of migrant workers, many from neighboring Myanmar and Cambodia, is also hurting. While some people managed to make it home before the borders closed, others are stuck in Thailand with no wages from their jobs as hotel cleaners, kitchen hands and food stall operators.

“Now is when people want more help because it’s been so long and it’s not going to get better,” said Natalie Narkprasert, a founder of Covid Thailand Aid, a charity set up in the wake of the pandemic.

Ms. Natalie said she has been inundated by pleas from Thais with only a dollar or two left in their bank accounts.

How to plan a vacation in the midst of a pandemic.

Traveling these days requires lots of research, precision planning and a willingness to play by new and very stringent rules.

Reporting was contributed by Hannah Beech, Ginia Bellafante, Keith Bradsher, Farnaz Fassihi, Jan Hoffman, Elian Peltier, Carol Rosenberg, Muktita Suhartono and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Source link