Ohio’s governor tests positive before a planned Trump meeting. Two days ago, he offered a stark virus warning.
Two days after he implored residents to avoid large gatherings because of the risk of spreading the virus to family and friends, Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio tested positive for the virus while being screened to greet President Trump in Cleveland on Thursday, his office said.
Mr. DeWine, a Republican who has stood out for his studious virus briefings and aggressive response, was tested as part of a standard protocol in order to greet Mr. Trump on the tarmac of Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.
Mr. DeWine did not meet with the president, who was scheduled to speak about rebuilding the economy during a stop in Cleveland and then tour a Whirlpool plant in Clyde.
Mr. DeWine was not experiencing symptoms, and was headed back to Columbus, where he will be tested again and plans to self-isolate for 14 days, his office said. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted was tested at the same time, the office said; his test was negative.
At a news conference earlier this week, Mr. DeWine cited several examples of how the virus spread insidiously among family, friends and neighbors in Ohio, warning that the people who are most at risk are often loved ones.
In one case, a churchgoer who attended a service while he was sick helped spread the virus to 91 other people spanning five counties. In another, a son brushed off symptoms while holding a vigil for his dying father, and five relatives later tested positive. In another case, at least 15 people were sickened after a man with symptoms attended his brother’s wedding. The bride and groom were among those who fell ill.
The cases go to the heart of a problem many Americans are grappling with: how to weigh being present at important life events against the danger of contagion.
“Just because it’s your family, just because it’s your friends, they could still be carrying the virus,” Mr. DeWine said Tuesday. “Choosing to not gather for parties or barbecues might feel like you’re not being friendly, but it really is a sign of friendship.”
At least 26 new coronavirus deaths and 1,199 new cases were reported in Ohio on Wednesday. Over the past week, there have been an average of 1,202 new cases per day, a decrease of 11 percent from the average two weeks earlier. The state has recorded 96,305 cases and 3,596 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.
Mr. DeWine is the second governor in the nation known to have tested positive. Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, a Republican, received a positive test result last month. Others whose infections have been detected by White House screenings ahead of scheduled meetings with the president include Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, and Mark Lamb, the sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz.
The shadow of a potentially disappointing new monthly jobs report hangs over leading Democrats and Trump administration officials Thursday as they plan to meet again to attempt to bridge a yawning divide over a new economic stimulus bill.
The Labor Department will report Friday morning on how many jobs the economy created in July, as America climbs back from the depths of the pandemic recession. Forecasters expect fewer new jobs than in May, when the nascent recovery added 2.7 million jobs, or June, when it added 4.8 million. That’s because the resurgence of the coronavirus has cooled growth in consumer spending and business activity for much of this summer.
The economy remains down more than 10 million jobs from its pre-pandemic peak in February. If Friday’s report shows a drastic slowdown in job creation, pressure will rise on Mr. Trump and congressional leaders to cut a deal to provide additional aid for struggling small businesses, laid-off workers and state and local governments that face large shortfalls in tax revenue amid the crisis. New claims for unemployment benefits have exceeded 1 million a week for 20 straight weeks, the Labor Department reported on Thursday, though the latest figure was not as dire as some weeks early in the pandemic.
A better-than-expected report on Friday could sway Mr. Trump — who has said repeatedly that the economy will rapidly return to its pre-crisis state — against agreeing to Democrats’ demands on issues like extending the now-expired $600-a-week federal supplement for unemployed workers.
Mr. Trump escalated his threat on Thursday to walk away from the negotiations and act unilaterally instead. He told reporters he was considering issuing executive orders to forestall evictions, suspend payroll tax collection and provide extra unemployment aid and student loan relief, perhaps as soon as Friday or Saturday.
It is not clear that he has the legal authority for some of those moves, given that spending power lies with Congress. But a White House official said lawyers there believe Mr. Trump would be on solid ground to use money provided in the last stimulus measure but not yet spent. Democrats rejected the idea, calling it illegal and insufficient.
“Congress has the power of the purse, and President Trump has no authority to deviate from spending decisions the House and Senate made in previous coronavirus relief bills,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee. “Executive actions to redirect funds that have not yet been spent are neither legal nor a substitute for legislative action to address this crisis.”
Earlier Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would welcome a presidential eviction moratorium, provided that it was accompanied by rental and housing assistance that Democrats have demanded.
“What’s the use of a moratorium if you’re going to have eight months of rent to pay at the end?” said Ms. Pelosi, speaking at her weekly news conference.
Trump is set to sign an executive order to encourage American manufacturing of critical health care supplies.
Mr. Trump is expected on Thursday to sign a long-awaited executive order that would require the federal government to purchase certain pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and equipment from American factories, in an effort to encourage more domestic manufacturing of critical health care products.
The move comes as politicians of both parties have begun criticizing the country’s dependence on China and other nations for drugs and medical supplies. The pandemic has strained supply chains and led to spiraling global demand and shortages of products like masks, testing equipment and certain pharmaceuticals.
The order, which was led by White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro and reported by The New York Times in March, has been on hold for months amid opposition from pharmaceutical lobbyists, business groups and economists, who argued that the rule change could further disrupt supply chains and result in higher drug prices.
It will require the federal government, including the departments of defense, veterans affairs and health and human services, to purchase drugs from American sources, though it also allows certain exemptions based on cost, availability and public interest.
“If we’ve learned anything from the China virus pandemic, it is simply that we’re dangerously overdependent on foreign nations for our essential medicines, for medical supplies like masks, gloves, goggles, and the like, and medical equipment like ventilators,” Mr. Navarro said Thursday. “We are dangerously dependent, at this point in time, for essential medicines.”
But it remains unclear just how broad its effects will be, since the order gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to decide which medicines and supplies will be subject to the new requirements, Mr. Navarro said in a call with reporters.
Counties across California have posted messages warning the public not to rely on their coronavirus data dashboards after the state said that the system used to collect and disseminate case data was broken.
A note on the website of Santa Clara County, in Silicon Valley, said that it was “impossible for State and local health officials to identify the extent to which Covid-19 is circulating in the community.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the seven-day average of cases had fallen by around 20 percent in the state, but officials now say the underreporting of cases puts that decline into question.
California is America’s hub for technology and a major center for biotech companies, but the state has struggled to track the progression of the virus in two key ways: the breakdown in the data sharing system — which Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said Wednesday may have begun months ago — and huge lags in providing testing results.
Contra Costa County, across the Bay from San Francisco, is taking at least 16 days to process tests at its drive-through centers, according to county officials. Other counties in the state are returning results after a week or more.
Dr. Bob Wachter, the chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said that a test that takes weeks to process is “a worthless piece of information.”
“In order to get back to work and open schools we have to have intimate knowledge of who’s got the virus and who’s been in contact with someone who’s got the virus,” Dr. Wachter said. “If you can’t do that within a day or two, the whole system falls apart very rapidly.”
Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, told reporters on Tuesday that “discrepancies” in the data dissemination system, known as CalREDIE, would “absolutely” affect the test positivity rates, but he did not say by how much.
Hospitalization rates, which are reported using a different system and have been falling, continue to be accurate, he said.
A spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health, Ali Bay, could not say when the data dissemination system would be fixed.
“Our team continues to work around the clock to address the underreporting issue,” she said.
‘We have to try something different’: Experts call for a large-scale rethinking of the U.S. testing strategy.
While most coronavirus tests to date have relied on an ultra-accurate procedure called PCR, severe supply shortages have slowed the turnaround of results, stretching to more than a week — or three — in some parts of the United States. That has complicated, if not crippled, efforts to detect and track the spread of the virus.
The best chance to rein in the sprawling outbreaks, experts said, requires widespread adoption of less accurate tests, as long as they are administered quickly and often enough.
“Even if you miss somebody on Day 1,” said Omai Garner, director of clinical microbiology in the U.C.L.A. Health System. “If you test them repeatedly, the argument is, you’ll catch them the next time around.”
This quantity-over-quality strategy has its downsides, and is contingent on an enormous supply of testing kits. Currently, only a handful of speedy tests have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use. But many experts now believe more rapid, frequent testing would be enough to identify those who need immediate medical care — and perhaps even pinpoint those at greatest risk of spreading the disease.
One such option includes antigen testing, which, at its simplest, could provide a fast answer in the same way as pregnancy tests. These tests could be done at a doctor’s office, or even at home — no fancy machines or specially trained personnel required — and cost just a few dollars each, perhaps even less. And there would be no delays of a week or longer.
The approach is unconventional for lab researchers, who have traditionally valued accuracy above all else.
Elsewhere in the U.S.:
Indiana on Thursday reported more than 1,050 new cases, a single-day record for the state.
After reports of large parties in recent weeks, the mayor of Los Angeles said on Wednesday that the city could cut off power to homes or businesses that host large gatherings in defiance of public health guidelines.
“The photo does not look good”: Images of a Georgia high school’s crowded halls go viral.
The widely circulated photo from North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., showed students crowded into a packed hallway on their first day back to classes since the coronavirus outbreak shuttered school buildings across the country in the spring. Few were wearing masks, and there was little sign of social distancing. Then on Day 2, there was another.
The photos, which were shared on social media and cited in news reports, have quickly come to symbolize a chaotic first week back in U.S. classrooms. Schools in states where students have returned, including Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana, have had to initiate quarantines and in some cases shut down classrooms and entire schools temporarily become positive cases emerged.
The superintendent of the Paulding County School District, Brian Otott, defended his system’s reopening plan after the hallway photos circulated, saying in a letter to the community that they were taken out of context. Students only remained in the hallways briefly while switching classes, he wrote, and the school was following recommendations issued by the Georgia Department of Education.
But he acknowledged, “There is no question that the photo does not look good.”
Masks are not required at the school, Mr. Otott said, but the administration strongly encourages them for students and staff members.
“Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” he wrote, adding that more than 2,000 students attend the high school.
The school district did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
The district’s guidelines say staff members will do their best to require students to maintain social distancing, but note that it would “not be possible to enforce social distancing in classrooms or on school buses unless it is a class or a bus with fewer students.”
The high school opened for the school year on Monday even though there had already been reports of a coronavirus outbreak among members of the football team.
As companies and researchers rush to develop a coronavirus vaccine — with some positive signs — there is growing concern that Mr. Trump’s continued efforts to tie the timing of a vaccine to the election could put undue pressure on the regulatory approval process. And in an interview with Geraldo Rivera on Thursday, the president made his most explicit remarks yet connecting the timing to the political calendar.
“Sooner than the end of the year, could be much sooner,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Rivera, a radio host, on his program on Thursday morning. When Mr. Rivera asked, “Sooner than November 3?” Mr. Trump replied, “I think in some cases, yes, possible before, but right around that time.”
Such an optimistic picture isn’t backed by public health experts. The most hopeful companies have said that if vaccine development is able to hit certain criteria, then the end of the year or the beginning of 2021 is the earliest likely time one could arrive.
Later on Thursday, as he left the White House for a trip to Ohio, Mr. Trump was asked if a vaccine before November 3 would help him in his re-election bid. “It wouldn’t hurt,” he replied.
In a worrying sign, France and Germany record higher daily totals of new cases than they’ve seen in months.
France and Germany have each recorded a higher number of daily new coronavirus cases this week than either country has seen in months. France reported 1,695 new cases on Wednesday, and Germany on Thursday reported more than 1,000.
The rise in cases for both countries come as other Western European countries, like Spain and Belgium, are also facing surges. And though the numbers are high, they are not on the level of the spikes being seen in the United States.
Germany’s public health authority, the Robert Koch Institute, said new cases were spread across the country, and were not concentrated in one region as more recent spikes have been.
In France, which had been seeing a slow resurgence of the pandemic, the 1,242 daily average of cases since the beginning of August has almost reached the level of infections in the first week of May, when the country was still under lockdown. And the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units, which had been steadily falling since early April, has risen very slightly in recent days.
As numbers began rising last week in Germany, Lothar Wieler, the president of the Robert Koch Institute, had warned that Germans were becoming too lax and failing to uphold the social-distancing and mask-wearing requirements that remain in place.
In France, the scientific council that advises President Emmanuel Macron warned that a second wave of infections by the fall was “highly possible” given current trends. The council called on large cities to prepare home-confinement strategies that could be tightened or loosened in step with the evolution of the pandemic.
Even asymptomatic people carry the virus in high amounts, a study finds.
A new study in South Korea, published Thursday in JAMA Internal Medicine, offers more definitive proof that people without symptoms carry just as much virus in their nose, throat and lungs as those with symptoms, and for almost as long.
Discussions about asymptomatic spread have been dogged by confusion about people who are “pre-symptomatic” — meaning they eventually become visibly ill — versus the truly asymptomatic, who appear healthy throughout the course of their infection.
The new study is among the first to clearly distinguish between these two groups. It measured the virus’s genetic material in the patients; the researchers did not follow the chain of transmission or grow live virus, which might have more directly confirmed active infections.
Still, experts said the results strongly suggest that asymptomatic people are unwitting broadcasters of the virus.
The South Korean team analyzed samples taken between March 6 and March 26 from 193 symptomatic and 110 asymptomatic people isolated at a community treatment center. Of the initially asymptomatic patients, 89 — roughly 30 percent of the total — appeared healthy throughout, while 21 developed symptoms.
The participants in the new study were all isolated when they tested positive for the virus and did not have the opportunity to infect others. Doctors and nurses tracked their temperatures and other symptoms, and tested their sputum — which indicates virus present in the lungs — as well as their noses and throats.
The participants were mostly young, with a median age of just 25. (A study last week found that children, who are mostly mildly infected, also harbor at least as much virus as adults do.)
The study’s estimate that 30 percent of infected people never develop symptoms is in line with findings from other studies. In an television interview on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tendered 40 percent as the figure.
More than half of Americans who flew in the past year are not ready to do so again, according to a new survey, underscoring the difficulty airlines face in convincing people it is safe for them to get back on planes.
Younger adults are more willing to travel; only a third of those between the ages of 18 and 34 expressed discomfort with the idea. But older adults, who tend to have more time and money to travel, are far more reluctant. Among those 55 or older, 69 percent said they would not be comfortable taking a flight.
Unsurprisingly, views on flying vary significantly by political identification. Nearly 60 percent of Democrats said they were uncomfortable flying, compared with 54 percent of independents and just 42 percent of Republicans.
Even those willing to fly have limits. Although 44 percent said they were comfortable getting on a flight that lasted less than two hours, only 21 percent said they were open to the idea of flying more than six hours, confirming the industry consensus that international travel will take much longer to recover than shorter, domestic trips.
Travelers are also divided in their willingness to pay to have an empty seat next to them. Just under half said they would not shell out any money for greater distance from others, while 47 percent said they would pay up to $100. That share shrinks as the price of an empty seat rises, though 18 percent said they would spend $250 or more.
The C.D.C. to Americans: Please do not drink hand sanitizer.
Federal health authorities issued a formal warning this week about the dangers of drinking hand sanitizer and alerted poison control centers across the United States to be on the lookout for cases of methanol toxicity after four people died and nearly a dozen became ill.
“Alcohol-based hand sanitizer products should never be ingested,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday in an advisory.
From May 1 to June 30, 15 people in Arizona and New Mexico were treated for poisoning after they swallowed alcohol-based hand sanitizer, the agency said, adding that it was not immediately clear if any of the people who were poisoned drank the hand sanitizer for its disinfectant properties. Some adults had consumed it for its alcohol content.
Similar warnings were issued in April after Mr. Trump suggested digesting disinfectants could help fight the virus.
Hand sanitizer has become an ubiquitous and often scarce substitute for hand washing during the pandemic. The C.D.C. has recommended the use of ethyl alcohol- or isopropyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates hand sanitizers, announced that it had placed methanol-based products manufactured in Mexico on an import alert because of their toxicity. It also said it was working with retailers to remove those products from marketplaces.
And with a round of new warnings, the agency’s list of hand sanitizers that consumers should avoid grew to 115 products. Some were cautioned against because of methanol content, others because of manufacturing processes or low levels of ethyl alcohol.
The British government will not use 50 million face masks because of safety concerns.
Fifty million face masks bought by the British government for the National Health Service in April will not be used because of safety concerns, the BBC reported on Thursday.
The masks, which were bought as part of a 252 million-pound contract, ($332 million), use ear loop fastenings instead of head loop fastenings. The government found that they did not fit tightly enough, according to legal documents seen by the BBC.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it was unable to comment on the specifics of the case because of continuing legal proceedings but said there was a “robust” process in place to ensure that all orders of personal protective equipment are of high quality and meet strict safety standards.
Ayanda Capital, the supplier of the masks, was not immediately available for comment but told the BBC that the equipment met all the specifications that the government had set out.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the government came under fierce criticism over shortages of personal protective equipment, particularly respirator masks that protect health workers from inhaling harmful materials.
“Throughout this global pandemic, we have been working tirelessly to deliver PPE to protect people on the front line,” a government spokesman said, adding, “Over 2.4 billion items have been delivered, and more than 30 billion have been ordered from U.K.-based manufacturers and international partners to provide a continuous supply, which meets the needs of health and social care staff both now and in the future.”
In other news from around the world:
Italy threatened to suspend Ryanair flights, saying the low-cost Irish carrier has repeatedly violated safety measures imposed by the government to contain the coronavirus. In an email, the company called the accusations by the Italian authority “factually incorrect,” and said it fully complied with the measures set out by the Italian government.
In Britain, more than nine million people have been furloughed, or 29 percent of the country’s work force, and 2.8 million have filed unemployment claims since the pandemic began. Some fields, such as hospitality or live entertainment, seem especially uncertain, leaving some people in a quandary: Wait for business and employment to pick up, or leave behind a job and career and try something new?
A Canadian pastor who contracted the virus in Myanmar after preaching that Christians were immune to it was sentenced to three months of prison with hard labor on Thursday for violating the country’s strict rule against large gatherings. The Myanmar-born preacher, David Lah, was found guilty of attending a 27-day Christian gathering in Yangon, the country’s largest city, that began in March and is blamed for spreading the virus to around 70 people.
Test results for North Korea’s first suspected case were “inconclusive,” a World Health Organization official said Thursday. The case has triggered quarantine orders for more than 3,600 people.
Reporting was contributed by Geneva Abdul, Emily Bobrow, Luke Broadwater, Emma Bubola, Julia Calderone, Niraj Chokshi, Emily Cochrane, Patricia Cohen, Melissa Eddy, Thomas Erdbrink, Jacey Fortin, Sheera Frenkel, Maggie Haberman, Cecilia Kang, Annie Karni, David Leonhardt, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Constant Méheut, Sarah Mervosh, Saw Nang, Richard C. Paddock, Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley, Neil Vigdor, Katherine J. Wu, Ceylan Yeginsu, Elaine Yu and Karen Zraick.