Coronavirus Updates: Newest Information and Evaluation

143 0
Coronavirus Live News and Updates

U.S. cases surge toward May’s high, with clusters among young people linked to bars and fraternity parties.

The United States reported more than 30,000 new infections on Friday, its highest total since May 1, with cases rising in 19 states across the South, West and Midwest.

Southern officials in particular are speaking out with increasing alarm about the large number of cases turning up in young adults.

At least 100 cases were linked on Friday to employees and customers of bars in the Tigerland nightlife district near the Louisiana State University campus. In South Carolina, cases among people who are 21 to 30 have grown 413 percent since April 4. And in Mississippi, state officials said several cases had been tied to fraternity rush parties in Oxford, home to the University of Mississippi. More than 80 percent of new cases in Oxford involved people 18 to 24.

“Early information suggests that they’re violating the law in the number of people who are at these parties,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi’s state health officer, who noted that indoor gatherings without social distancing were supposed to be limited to 20 people.

In South Carolina, which on Friday posted its largest single-day case increase, officials warned that some young people had become seriously ill from the virus and that those without serious symptoms could still infect family members and friends.

“The increases that we’re seeing serve as a warning that young adults and youth are not immune to Covid-19,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. “They also tell us that younger South Carolinians are not taking social distancing seriously.”

The clusters may be especially worrying to colleges and universities that plan to bring students back to campus in the fall, when both the coronavirus and the flu virus are expected to be circulating simultaneously.

While some — like Cal State, the nation’s largest four-year public university system — have already told students classes will be almost exclusively online, others are betting that careful planning, broad testing and social limits can keep students and faculty members safe and healthy.

Gradual reopenings are continuing across the United States and globally this weekend, including the lifting of a state of emergency that Spain imposed nearly three months ago. But a return to public life has also been accompanied by rises in coronavirus cases — and sometimes a reimposition of restrictions to curb the virus’s spread.

In Turkey, which has the world’s 12th largest known outbreak, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged losing ground against the virus two weeks after the country allowed businesses to reopen and people to travel.

The daily rate of infection has now rebounded from below 1,000 a day to about 1,500. The government announced new lockdown periods for this weekend and next while high school students take specially scheduled exams. Masks were made compulsory in three of the largest cities, Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa, which have been hit badly.

“The way to overcome the outbreak is, as I always say, through the principles of masks, distancing and hygiene,” Mr. Erdogan said in a televised address on Saturday for the inauguration of a new dam.

In the United States, where the world’s largest known outbreak has infected more than 2.2 million people, several states repeatedly set record daily highs for new cases, prompting some officials to called for greater vigilance, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Florida, among the hardest-hit states, reported 3,822 new cases on Friday, bringing its total to close to 90,000. Arizona recorded a new single-day high, and South Carolina reported a record of 1,081 new daily cases, the seventh time in 11 days that the state had broken its single-day case record.

In Italy, Pope Francis held one of his first audiences for a group since the country lifted its lockdown. In his comments on Saturday at the Vatican, the pope thanked the attendees, who included masked health care workers from the hard-hit Lombardy region, for their work. He also warned against reverting back to individualism once the crisis faded.

Here are other developments around the world:

  • More than 1,029 workers in one of Germany’s largest meatpacking plants have been infected, according to Sven-Georg Adenauer, a regional commissioner in North Rhine-Westphalia. The plant is closing for 14 days, and all 6,500 workers are in quarantine, while contact tracers try to identify chains of infection. Schools and day care centers in the area have been closed, angering families who had just begun to return to a cautious normalcy after more than two months in Germany’s lockdown.

  • In Australia, which has been widely praised for containing the virus, the state of Victoria said on Saturday that it was bringing back tighter restrictions on gatherings. The state, which includes Melbourne, on Wednesday recorded 21 new cases, its largest single-day increase in over a month. Premier Dan Andrews said in a statement that “the numbers are largely being driven by families — families having big get-togethers and not following the advice around social distancing and hygiene.” At least three cases also involved protesters who participated in recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

  • Beijing is scrambling to track and contain a new outbreak that has raised fears of broader contagion. While some limits were imposed, the authorities did not turn to the kind of widespread strict lockdowns introduced in January after the coronavirus emerged late last year in the city of Wuhan. The change is in part a recognition that it is not feasible to shut down societies for the duration of the pandemic, which shows no signs of disappearing.

  • In Afghanistan, which is grappling with a rapidly growing outbreak and a raging war, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said on Saturday that infections had spread among diplomats, contract workers and local employees. The spokesman offered no numbers, but The Associated Press reported up to 20 cases.

  • The removal of Spain’s state of emergency, which will officially take place at midnight, means that the country’s 47 million residents will be free to travel within the country, and international arrivals will no longer be required to quarantine. Other restrictions remain, including limits on the numbers of people allowed inside cafes and shops. Masks remains compulsory nationwide in public places, including on mass transit. Spain registered 40 coronavirus deaths and about 1,500 new infections in the past week, a huge drop from early April, when deaths rose by more than 900 a day.

  • Saudi Arabia is set to lift a nationwide curfew on Sunday morning, allowing “all economic and commercial activities” to restart, the state-run SPA news agency reported on Saturday, despite a resurgence in infections since the kingdom began reopening over the last several weeks. Nearly 4,000 new cases were reported on Saturday, bringing the total to 154,233. Large gatherings, international flights and land entries are banned.

Concerns that President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday night could spread the coronavirus were amplified hours before the event, when his campaign acknowledged that six staff members working on the rally had tested positive.

“Six members of the advance team tested positive out of hundreds of tests performed, and quarantine procedures were immediately implemented,” said a campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh. “No Covid-positive staffers or anyone in immediate contact will be at today’s rally or near attendees and elected officials.”

There have been at least 10,037 cases of the coronavirus in Oklahoma, according to a New York Times database. As of Saturday afternoon, at least 368 people had died.

Tulsa health officials have expressed concerns that the rally, in a large, indoor arena, has the potential to become a “superspreader” event. But Trump supporters gathered in Tulsa appeared less worried about the virus and more exuberant over the president’s return to the campaign trail. A few hundred gathered at Fourth and Cheyenne, the first rally checkpoint. Almost none wore masks.

“If it is God’s will that I get coronavirus, that is the will of the Almighty,” said Robert Montanelli, a resident of a Tulsa suburb. “I will not live in fear.”

“I don’t feel sick,” said Mike Pellerin of Austin, Texas, who wore a T-shirt saying “Are we dead yet?” and proudly noted his age, 68. “I don’t have the virus. I’m not going to give it to anyone.”

The campaign stressed that all rally attendees are receiving temperature checks before going through security, and are then given wristbands, face masks and hand sanitizer. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said on Friday that using the masks would be optional. Mr. Trump has eschewed masks in public, and Ms. McEnany said that she would not wear one at the rally.

In the afternoon, local black leaders held a news conference to plead with Mayor G. T. Bynum, a Republican who hascast himself as supportive of the black community, to cancel the rally.

In the city’s historic Greenwood neighborhood, the leaders stood in front of a memorial dedicated to the victims of the 1921 massacre of black Tulsans by a white mob and made a two-pronged argument: The rally would wound a city that has worked hard at creating a shared language of racial reconciliation, and the city’s black community may bear the brunt of any coronavirus surge the rally might create.

Some businesses and residents had also sued, in vain, to block the rally unless social distancing guidelines were followed. But the city itself has been accommodating. City officials rescinded a three-night curfew after Mr. Trump said on Twitter that he had spoken with Mr. Bynum, “who informed me there will be no curfew tonight or tomorrow for our many supporters.”

And Tulsa’s police chief said this week that his department was planning for “a mass amount of people that probably Tulsa has never seen before.”

The president, who has been determined to signal a return to normal as states reopen, announced on Friday that he would hold a Fourth of July celebration for a second consecutive year, including “music, military demonstrations and flyovers.”

The event, which is expected to culminate in a speech by Mr. Trump, comes as Democratic lawmakers in the area urged against such a gathering, saying it would “needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans.”

The National Institutes of Health said on Saturday that it had stopped a clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug that President Trump has promoted to treat the virus with scant evidence of its efficacy, because the drug was unlikely to benefit hospitalized patients.

The halting of the trial, which had aimed to enroll more than 500 patients, is the latest evidence that scientists are increasingly concluding that the promise of hydroxychloroquine has fallen far short of early expectations.

“In effect, the drug didn’t work,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He said the medical community had been closely watching the trial because it was federally funded, placebo-controlled and run by respected investigators. “I think we can put this drug aside and now devote our attention to other potential treatments.”

Mr. Trump had called the drug a “game changer” and said he had been taking it.

The N.I.H. said Saturday that an oversight board that monitors safety met Friday and “determined that while there was no harm, the study drug was very unlikely to be beneficial to hospitalized patients with Covid-19.”

The trial, which was being run by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the N.I.H., had enrolled more than 470 patients when the study was stopped. It was one of several placebo-controlled studies that had been organized to test the drug after a series of small, poorly controlled trials showed early signs of a benefit.

Since then, several other large trials have been halted or have not shown the drug to be effective against the virus.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration revoked the emergency authorization it had given hospitals to give hydroxychloroquine and a related drug, chloroquine, to hospitalized patients. The agency said that the drugs were “unlikely to be effective” and could carry potential risks.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it was stopping the hydroxychloroquine arm of a large clinical trial that was testing several treatments against the virus because evidence showed it did not reduce mortality rates of hospitalized patients.

Even as states like Texas and Florida have seen considerable spikes in new coronavirus cases in recent days, other corners of the United States where the virus has so far been mostly contained are planning to let patrons eat in restaurants again.

On Friday, the mayor of Baltimore said the city would join the rest of Maryland in allowing restaurants and bars to open for indoor dining with certain restrictions. Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., are enacting similar plans on Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers restaurants that allow indoor dining to be one of the riskier environments among those establishments that have opened so far. As scientists’ understanding of the virus has evolved, crowded indoor spaces with poor airflow have been identified as one of the likeliest situations in which the virus can spread, particularly as people laugh, talk and take off their masks to eat.

Businesses will still have to comply with restrictions. In both Massachusetts and Washington, dining establishments will have to keep tables six feet apart, and parties at any table cannot exceed six people. Washington will also limit restaurants to seating people at 50 percent capacity.

The C.D.C. has warned that even with these restrictions, indoor dining still brings together people who may not live with one another in tight spaces, and has urged individuals to take extra precautions.

Other cities are experimenting with novel ways to allow people to dine together more safely, such as encouraging them to stay in designated areas outside. This weekend, Grand Rapids, Mich., put in place four new “social zones,” where it planned to grant permits allowing people to congregate and eat outside on demarcated streets and sidewalks.

“The idea is simply to let restaurants serve more customers while allowing those who don’t want to go indoors yet to feel safe,” said Lou Canfield, the city’s acting assistant director of design, development and community engagement in a news release. “It’s a new concept for us and will be experimental in some ways.”

The Belmont Stakes will be run today, without spectators or horse owners.

The Belmont Stakes, traditionally the last leg of the Triple Crown, will instead kick off the series for the first time in history on Saturday. The race signals the return of big-time sports to New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., but in the most small-scale way allowed.

Instead of 150,000 fans filling the grandstands, there was only a skeleton crew of grooms, trainers and assistant starters — fewer than 100 in all, or just enough to get the horses and their jockeys through the day. The staff members wore masks or bandannas and gloves, making the paddock look like a cross between a medical center and a waiting room for desperadoes.

“If you do not have a shank or bucket in your hand, you can’t come in,” said Pat McKenna, a spokesman for the New York Racing Association. “Only essential personnel.”

Essential, included Sam “The Bugler” Grossman, who will sound the call to post before each of the 12 races. The post time for the Belmont is 5:42 p.m. Eastern.

There is no beer or hot dogs being sold; no buffets in the dining room to graze. No betting windows are open, either. But fans can still watch on NBC and bet online.

When the pandemic forced organizers to move both the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby to the fall, the Belmont Stakes was also delayed. And that is not the sole change it faced. The race was shortened, and the start was placed on the backstretch, which means the horses and riders will have to navigate only one turn.

Demonstrators in France on Saturday doused the entrance to the country’s Health Ministry with bright red paint symbolizing blood, in protest over inadequate resources and poor working conditions in the country’s public hospitals.

The group of about 30 protesters also placed a giant fake “Medal of Contempt” on the steps of the ministry, in central Paris.

“It’s been years, months that health workers have been mobilizing to denounce the lack of resources in terms of staffing, beds and equipment,” said Aurélie Trouvé, a spokeswoman for ATTAC, a left-wing activist group.

“This government, and the previous ones, are responsible for thousands of deaths during this crisis,” she said. “They have blood on their hands.”

Over 29,500 people have died from the coronavirus in France. President Emmanuel Macron has praised French doctors and nurses as heroes during the pandemic, and the government has given bonuses of 1,500 euros (about $1,680) to public health care workers. The government is also in talks with unions over an investment plan for hospitals.

But French health workers say the government has not made concrete promises on issues like pay raises, increased hiring and a moratorium on plans to downsize or close hospitals.

The protesters also expressed anger at the government’s handling of a much larger demonstration of health workers last week in Paris, where violence broke out and the police used tear gas.

Ines Pujol, a spokeswoman for L’Inter-Urgences, a group of emergency health care workers, said at Saturday’s protest that “it took a pandemic, a global health crisis for the government and its institutions to take a look at public hospitals” and “for our suffering to be heard.”

Worries over pro and college sports grow with new diagnoses and facility closings.

A number of new cases of the coronavirus among professional and college athletes have added to concerns about competitive sports.

On Friday, days after the PGA Tour restarted, the golfer Nick Watney withdrew from the RBC Heritage tournament in South Carolina after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Clemson University also confirmed on Friday that 28 people had tested positive across its athletics department, including 23 football team members.

Sports leagues across the country have already been wrestling with stubborn questions about how and when to resume games and practices without putting players at risk.

Two Major League Baseball clubs, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays, and a professional hockey team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, had said they would shut down their training facilities in Florida this week, after several players and staff members tested positive. Major League Baseball is now planning to temporarily close all spring training sites in Florida and Arizona for deep cleaning and will require players and staff members to be tested before they can re-enter the sites.

The Phillies said in a statement Friday that five players and three staff members working at the club’s facility in Clearwater had tested positive for the virus. The club said eight staff members tested negative and more than 30 others were awaiting results.

Both the N.H.L. and M.L.B. are hoping to start up in late July.

The shutdowns cast a shadow over the return of professional sports, which became a source of friction this week between President Trump and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Mr. Trump rebuked Dr. Fauci after Dr. Fauci said Thursday on CNN that the National Football League would need to replicate the kind of safety “bubble” planned by professional basketball and soccer leagues to safely resume play.

Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday that “Tony Fauci has nothing to do with N.F.L. Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening.”

As Latin America has emerged as an epicenter of the pandemic, with deaths and infections soaring, efforts to contain the virus have been undermined by several corruption scandals.

Investigations into fraud have reached the highest levels of government. The former Bolivian health minister is under house arrest awaiting trial on corruption charges after the ministry paid an intermediary millions more than the going rate for 170 ventilators — which did not even work properly.

Dozens of public officials and local entrepreneurs are accused of exploiting the crisis for personal enrichment by peddling influence to price-gouge hospitals and governments for medical supplies including masks, sanitizer and ventilators.

In Brazil, which has the second highest number of coronavirus deaths after the United States, government officials in at least seven states are under investigation over the misuse of more than $200 million in public funds during the crisis.

Peru’s police chief and interior minister resigned after their subordinates bought diluted sanitizer and flimsy face masks for police officers, who then began dying of infections from the virus at alarming rates.

In Colombia, the attorney general is investigating reports that more than 100 political campaign donors received lucrative contracts to provide emergency supplies during the pandemic.

“People are dying in the streets because the hospital system collapsed,” said Diana Salazar, Ecuador’s attorney general. “To profit from the pain of others, with all these people who are losing their loved ones, it’s immoral.”

When you enter a home in Moscow, it is customary to take off your shoes. When you attend a play, checking your coat is a must. And when you eat a burger, it is often done while wearing gloves.

Across hygiene-conscious Eastern Europe, many people consider it uncouth and unsanitary to eat a burger with bare hands. The answer used to be a knife and fork. But the pandemic has accelerated a years-old trend: Order a burger, and there is a fair chance it will come with a side of disposable gloves.

“Gloves, I think, are an unspoken, required attribute of any burger restaurant,” said Alina Volkolovskaya, the manager of Butterbro, a gastro pub in Minsk, Belarus. “I’m surprised that establishments in every country don’t offer them.”

Several American restaurant safety experts said they doubted that the practice would take off in the United States — the coronavirus, after all, is not even known to spread through food. But some said that gloves used properly could help protect people from a variety of germs.

“They could be potentially beneficial,” said Robert C. Williams, an associate professor of food microbiology at Virginia Tech, “in cases where the customer would not have washed their hands anyway.”

The many uses for food scraps.

Feeling crafty? Want to have less waste? There are many things that can be done with the bottoms of carrots, beets, egg shells and even meat waste. Or start a compost bin. We’ll show you how.

Reporting was contributed by Livia Albeck-Ripka, Aurelien Breeden, Nancy Coleman, Joe Drape, Melissa Eddy, Tess Felder, Ben Fenwick, Carlotta Gall, Matthew Haag, Maggie Haberman, Astead Herndon, Tyler Kepner, Natalie Kitroeff, Iliana Magra, Mujib Mashal, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Raphael Minder, Zach Montague, Mitch Smith, Mitra Taj, Katie Thomas, Anton Troianovski and Vivian Yee.

Leave a Reply