State and local leaders issue grim warnings as U.S. cases shatter records and deaths rise.
State and local leaders issued dire warnings on Thursday as new case reports in the United States surged above 75,000 nationwide for the first time and as deaths continued to trend upward.
“If you do the math, it is easy to see why the alarm,” said Barbara Ferrer, the public health director in Los Angeles County, Calif. With community spread rampant, she warned that the more than 4,000 new cases the county registered on Thursday “could lead to over 18,000 infected people in a few weeks.”
“And this is just from one day of new cases,” Dr. Ferrer said. “Without aggressive action on the part of every person, we will not get back to slowing the spread.”
More than 75,600 cases were reported on Thursday, according to a New York Times database, the 11th time in the past month that the U.S. daily record was broken. The previous single-day record, 68,241 cases, was announced last Friday.
The number of daily cases has more than doubled since June 24, when the country registered 37,014 cases after a lull in the outbreak had kept the previous record, 36,738, standing for two months. Daily virus fatalities had decreased slightly until last week, when they began rising again.
Four states — Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Texas — set single-day case records on Thursday. And three states set single-day death records on Thursday — Florida, South Carolina and Texas — with Florida and Texas alone combining for more than 300.
Seven others reached death records this week: Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Utah. Many of the states that reopened early are the ones seeing the biggest increases, while New York, the country’s hardest-hit city, has seen a 64 percent drop since June 1.
Public health experts have pointed to a few factors that help explain why the death count was initially flat. Treatment has improved and young people, who are less likely to die from Covid-19, make up a larger share of new cases.
Additionally, more widespread testing means cases are caught sooner, on average. That means that the lag between diagnosis and death would be longer than in March, when tests were in critically short supply.
In Kentucky, where the daily case average reached its highest point earlier this week, Gov. Andy Beshear warned that the grim circumstances in Arizona, Florida and Texas could soon materialize there.
“We are seeing state after state not just facing escalating cases, but facing devastation,” said Mr. Beshear, whose state reported a record number of children under age 5 testing positive. He added: “When you put up record numbers of cases, while our hospitals are working really hard, we will see more death.”
Mask use is high in the Northeast and the West, and lower in the Plains and parts of the South.
Face coverings are widely worn in the District of Columbia, but there are sections of the suburbs in both Maryland and Virginia where norms seem to be different. In St. Louis and its western suburbs, mask use seems to be high. But across the Missouri River, it falls.
This information is charted in a New York Times map of the United States that shows the odds of whether, if you encountered five people in a given area, all of them would be wearing masks. The data comes from a large number of interviews conducted by the survey firm Dynata.
The variations reflect differences in disease risk and politics, but they also may reflect some local idiosyncrasies. Elizabeth Dorrance Hall, an assistant professor of communications at Michigan State University, said mask behavior can be subject to a kind of peer pressure: If most everyone is wearing one, reluctant people may go along. If few people are, that can influence behavior, too.
Despite these variations, and despite the flare-ups over the issue that pepper social media, the rates of self-reported mask use in the United States are high. Several national surveys in recent weeks have found that around 80 percent of Americans say they wear masks frequently or always when they expect to be within six feet of other people.
India hits a million cases in a surge that has forced a return to lockdowns.
In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was one of the first to impose a national lockdown to slow the pandemic. But that drove many migrant workers out of crowded cities and back to their home villages, where some of them spread the virus.
The lockdown came at a steep economic cost, and Mr. Modi lifted it last month. Now India is recording about 30,000 new cases a day, almost three times as many as a month ago, and with testing still sparse, the true figure is likely to be much higher.
Critics say that Mr. Modi imposed the lockdown before it was needed, then lifted it too soon. In his defense, he has pointed to wealthier countries where the official death toll has been 20 to 50 times as high, relative to the size of their populations, as in India.
Regardless, India now ranks third in the world — behind only the United States and Brazil — in both total infections and the number of new ones recorded each day.
The rate of new cases in India is on track to soon overtake Brazil, which surpassed two million cases on Thursday but where the spread of the virus has leveled off. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimate that by the end of next year, India will have the worst outbreak in the world.
“We have paid a price for laxity,” said K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, a nonprofit organization of public health experts and academics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not release its guidance for reopening schools this week as expected, the latest turn in a clash between President Trump and the disease control centers over how — and whether — students should return to the classroom in the fall as coronavirus pandemic rages.
“C.D.C.’s Reopening Schools Safely documents will not be released this week; instead the full set will be published before the end of the month,” an agency spokesman said in a statement. “These science- and evidence-based resources and tools will provide additional information for administrators, teachers and staff, parents, caregivers and guardians, as together we work towards the public health-oriented goal of safely opening schools this fall.”
News of the delay was first reported by N.P.R. Earlier this month, Mr. Trump — who has been insistent that schools reopen in the fall — clashed with the C.D.C. over its proposed guidelines as “very tough and expensive” and demanded that they be revised. A copy of the draft rules to which Mr. Trump apparently objected, outlined in a document obtained by The New York Times and marked “For Internal Use Only,” warned that fully reopening schools remained “the highest risk” for spreading coronavirus.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, on Thursday reiterated President Trump’s view that schools must open in the fall. “When he says open,” she said, “he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.”
Republicans will propose liability protection for businesses, schools and hospitals in the next aid bill.
Senate Republicans plan next week to propose sweeping liability protections for businesses, schools, hospitals, charities, government agencies and front-line medical workers trying to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan, which Republicans have said must be the centerpiece of the next round of coronavirus relief, would bar employees and patients who became infected with the virus at work or injured during treatment from suing employers or health care providers except in cases of “gross negligence or intentional misconduct.”
It would move the jurisdiction of negligence cases into the federal courts, cap potential damages and set a high burden of proof for those suing. Other changes would protect employers from agency investigations and liability for injuries caused by workplace coronavirus testing.
The New York Times obtained a copy of a summary of the plan, written with Senator John Cornyn of Texas. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has billed the protections as vital to reopening the economy and insisted he will not advance any additional relief legislation unless they are included.
“Nobody should have to face an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic that we already have related to the coronavirus,” Mr. McConnell told reporters this week.
Democrats have taken the opposite approach, proposing new protections for workers facing increased health and safety risks, rather than for employers. They are likely to oppose Mr. McConnell’s proposal outright, potentially snarling broader talks that begin in earnest next week over how to prop up the sputtering economy and the nation’s straining health care system.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that the Republicans’ proposal “just isn’t fair” to workers, and said Democrats would be insisting on increasing the standards for workplace protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Boris Johnson says Britain could reach a ‘significant return to normality’ by Christmas.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined a road map on Friday to ease lockdown restrictions in Britain and to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the coming months, as he warned that there won’t be any “significant return to normality” until November at the earliest, and “possibly in time for Christmas.”
All schools in England will reopen in September, Mr. Johnson said at a news conference from Downing Street, and concert halls and theaters might welcome visitors again in the fall, as well as stadiums. Indoor gyms and pools will also be allowed to reopen by the end of July.
Nightclubs and indoor playgrounds will remain closed, and wedding receptions will remain limited to 30 people, Mr. Johnson said, as the authorities toe the line between what may be possible, and what won’t be. Local authorities will also be granted extended powers to enforce local lockdowns when areas face an uptick in virus cases. Leicester, in central England, has seen one in recent weeks.
“I know some will say this plan is too optimistic, that the risks are too great and that we won’t overcome the virus in time,” said Mr. Johnson, who warned that all measures were optional and could be pulled back at any time.
With at least 45,000 deaths, Britain has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world, and the authorities have announced that masks will be required in shops and supermarkets starting next week. Pubs and restaurants reopened in England and Wales earlier this month, and Mr. Johnson said the authorities would gradually encourage employees to go back to offices, and may not warn against taking public transportation anymore.
Britain should “hope for the best,” Mr. Johnson said, but “plan for the worst.”
China is offering unproven vaccine candidates to workers at state-owned companies and the armed forces.
The offer to employees at the state-owned oil giant was compelling: Be among the first in China to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
The employees at PetroChina could use one of two vaccines “for emergency use” to protect themselves when working overseas as part of China’s ambitious infrastructure program, according to a copy of the notice, which was reviewed by The New York Times. They would effectively be guinea pigs for testing the unproven vaccines outside official clinical trials.
The offer was backed by the government. It stressed that data from clinical trials showed that the products, both made by Sinopharm, were safe. It did not mention the possible side effects or warn against the false sense of security from taking a vaccine that had not been approved by regulators.
“I don’t think this is right ethically,” said Joan Shen, the Shanghai-based chief executive of the pharmaceutical firm I-Mab Biopharma.
The unorthodox move, to test people separately from the normal regulatory approval process, reflects the formidable challenge facing China as it races to develop the world’s first coronavirus vaccine.
Eager to find a long-term solution to the outbreak and burnish their scientific credentials, Chinese companies are rushing to get as much data as possible on their vaccines to prove they are safe and effective. In China, they are selectively testing their vaccines on small pools of people like the PetroChina employees — an approach that does not count toward the regulatory process but that could bolster their own confidence in the vaccines.
Learn about 20 of the most talked-about possible coronavirus treatments with this new tracking tool.
Companies and researchers worldwide are rushing to test hundreds of possible treatments meant to prevent or quell coronavirus infections. Some they hope will block the virus itself, nipping a burgeoning infection in the bud, while others are aimed at mimicking the immune system or quieting an overactive immune response.
The New York Times is cataloging some of the most talked-about drugs, devices and therapies in a new tracker that summarizes the evidence for and against each proposed treatment. The tracker includes 20 treatments so far; five have strong evidence of efficacy, three are pseudoscience, and the rest fall somewhere in between.
The Israeli government announced new coronavirus restrictions on Friday as the number of cases in the country continued to swell and the government faced further criticism for its handling of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the Health Ministry said in a statement that gyms would be closed and almost all restaurants would be limited to takeout and delivery services, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Beaches, they said, would be inaccessible during most of the weekends, starting July 24.
The new restrictions come after Israel reimposed other measures to stem the spread of the virus last week.
Since late June, infections in Israel have soared. The nation is averaging more than 1,500 cases a day, up from 664 two weeks ago, and unemployment stands at more than 20 percent.
In the past several weeks, Mr. Netanyahu’s government has come under sharp criticism for its management of the virus crisis, especially its economic fallout. Last Saturday, thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv to protest the government’s handling of the pandemic’s economic fallout.
In other news around the world:
Japan has asked the U.S. military to quarantine all of its personnel arriving at American bases in Japan for two weeks and then test them for the coronavirus, the country’s defense minister, Taro Kono, said on Friday. There has been an outbreak of cases on U.S. military bases on the island of Okinawa.
As European Union leaders met to negotiate a massive economic aid package, the major sticking point was how much latitude to give those countries receiving the aid. The talks in Brussels on Friday were the first time that E.U. leaders had held an in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic.
The residents of Barcelona, Spain, were told on Friday to stay indoors in order to help contain a new coronavirus outbreak in the Catalonia region in the northeastern part of the country. The authorities also announced a ban on outdoor gatherings of 10 people or more in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia.
In Australia, the state of Victoria reported 428 new cases on Friday, another single-day record. “We are in the fight of our lives,” Victoria’s health minister, Jenny Mikakos, told reporters in Melbourne, the locked-down state capital.
The authorities in the Philippines said that foreigners with long-term visas could begin entering the country in August, for the first time since March. They will be quarantined, monitored and tested.
Queen Elizabeth II will confer a knighthood on Tom Moore, the 100-year-old British Army veteran who raised $40 million for Britain’s National Health Service by walking 100 laps of his garden in the spring. Friday’s ceremony, to be held outside Windsor Castle, will be only the second time the queen has emerged from seclusion since March 19, when she left Buckingham Palace as the coronavirus bore down on London.
A 27-year-old woman in Tunisia was found guilty of “inciting hatred between religions” and sentenced to six months in jail and a $700 fine after she shared another Facebook user’s post about the coronavirus that mimicked Quranic iconography.
Deluged by mail-in ballots because of the pandemic, New York State is swimming in uncounted votes.
More than three weeks after the New York State primaries, election officials have not counted an untold number of mail-in absentee ballots, leaving numerous closely watched races unresolved, including three key Democratic congressional contests.
The absentee ballot count — greatly inflated this year because the state expanded the vote-by-mail option because of the pandemic — has been painstakingly slow, and hard to track, with no running account of the vote totals available.
The delays in New York’s primaries raise huge concerns about how the state will handle the general election in November and may offer a cautionary note for other states as they weigh whether to embrace, and how to implement, a vote-by-mail system.
The primary reason for the delays is the sheer number of absentee ballots: In New York City, 403,203 ballots were mailed for the June primary; as a comparison, just 76,258 absentee and military ballots were counted in the 2008 general election, when Barack Obama was elected president.
But other factors also have played a part.
Election officials said they were left scrambling when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo decided in late April to send absentee ballot applications to every registered voter; a May court decision that reinstituted a June presidential primary also complicated matters.
Reporting was contributed by Lilia Blaise, Nicholas Fandos, Manny Fernandez, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Jeffrey Gettleman, Erin Griffith, Josh Katz, Mark Landler, Lauren Leatherby, Jesse McKinley, Sarah Mervosh, Jennifer Miller, Raphael Minder, Azi Paybarah, Elian Peltier, Kevin Quealy, Adam Rasgon, Motoko Rich, Campbell Robertson, Margot Sanger-Katz, Mariana Simões, Karan Deep Singh, Mitch Smith, Kaly Soto, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Eileen Sullivan and Sui-Lee Wee.